Today’s post starts with a question:
“How do you pray?”
I’ve been inspired to write this post and to ask the question on the back of a recent post by Michelle at ‘kitchen sink wisdom’ called ‘how i pray’. The post describes one individual’s experience and thoughts on prayer and ends with an invitation to reflect on one’s own practice.
As regular readers of this blog will know I’ve written a couple of posts specifically related to prayer: one called ‘Living on a prayer’ and the other called ‘Forget everything you think you know’. More recently I’ve been mulling over my own practice and wrestling with questions around prayer. Michelle’s post provided the catalyst for me to write about this.
The focus of my spiritual practice right now is on being fully present and in the moment. The idea is not new: Buddhists talk about it, Ancient philosophers talked about it, ‘new age’ spiritual leaders talk about it.
Be here now.
Accept what is.
Embrace the moment.
The moment is all there ever is. By being in the moment and not resisting it you can find real peace and serenity.
I’ve found this practice particularly helpful recently at work.
“So what’s the problem?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s like this: when I am in the moment and fully present, accepting what is, I have no wants or needs. Life is showing up perfectly.
The question is, in this moment, how to pray?
A history of prayer
I have a long and chequered history with prayer. From a very young age (I grew up in a very religious house) I was told to pray. Prayer way back then involved the usual, “thank you for my parents, thank you for food on the table and please keep my family safe”; you know the kind of thing. As I got older that turned into, “Please stop X from bullying me, and please can you help me pass the exam”. Once I reached adulthood it had evolved fully into, “If you get me out of this mess I promise I’ll never do it again”.
The consistent theme throughout was that I was praying for myself, either to maintain the status quo or to ‘get’ something. It was a one way street; a street paved with ego, and needs, and wants.
Having rediscovered the spiritual side to my being in more recent times I began to practice prayer again, but this time from a place of praying for others and talking to God (the Universe etc.) more generally as I moved through the day. Yep, there was still some ego based stuff in there but the direction and slant had changed.
It was certainly better, however as I began to discover the power of the moment, of the now, I realised that I had nothing left to pray for.
Praying for nothing
So here we are today, right now, and I no longer wish to pray for anything. Why would I if I am in the moment and everything is perfect therein?
So, I have asked myself the questions, “How can I pray, what should I pray for, does being in the moment negate prayer?”
Let’s break this down. In the moment, in all that is, in acceptance: I have no need to pray for anything for myself.
What about praying for others?
Again, if everything is perfect in the moment for me, then the moment is happening in someone else’s life exactly the way it is meant to, perfectly. This leads me on to ask the question, “Who am I to pray for anything different in anyone else’s life?”
So, I don’t pray for me, and I don’t pray for others: what’s left?
Well, I still believe that everything we think, say or do is an act of prayer (see the post ‘Living on a prayer’). More formally my current practice has simplified. I pray that I might be in the moment, that I might find acceptance for what is, that I might be useful. I pray for guidance and consciousness. I pray in gratitude.
I guess I am still praying for something however my practice is changing and evolving (I like it that way).
This brings me back neatly to the question I posed at the start of the post.
“How do you pray?”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below.