What is up with prayer anyway? Why do we do it? What purpose does it serve? Does it really work?
Prayer defined: “to address God or gods with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving.”
First off we must define the term “god.” This is something you can only do for yourself, despite what your preacher or guru insists is THE truth. There is work that comes along with knowing god, and that work begins with asking yourself what IT is. I fell for the old white man in the sky con for many many years, it is so pervasive in our society. One day I asked myself “what is god?” I thought of the character we are spoon-fed from day one. Then I asked, “how likely is this true?” In that moment it began to drop away. In order to pray, to address god, we must first know to whom or what we are addressing.
I take on the label “Agnostic” because I believe it is useless to argue with another person’s understanding of god. I certainly don’t know what’s true and anyone who tells you they KNOW the answer to the God question isn’t being truthful with themselves or with you…probably both. Either way, Agnosticism allows me to say “hey, you got an understanding of God, I got an understanding of God, let us play together now.” I like to refer to Life in the same manner a religious person would say God. Because God, to me, is everything, everywhere, without end and incapable of understanding through the senses. God is in every experience and is the force beyond movement.
So when I pray I like to call on Life. What is not included in this term? What is beyond Life? Nothing…therefore I pray to Life, which is to say I pray to you, and to myself, and to the earth, and the trees, and the stars, and the sun, and the dirt, and the rivers, and the breaths we take, and the spaces in between. I address all of it equally with no separation in mind.
But why would I pray to begin with? The definition says “to address with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving.”
You see, being Agnostic allows me to draw upon all of the faiths, all of the crazy spiritual ideas people have put out there over the centuries and make my own conclusions. One of those conclusions is the idea that those things we speak out loud become our reality. We are creatures of creation, our thoughts, vibrations, behaviors, and emotions can’t help but create similar experiences for and around us. So I believe that the more I speak adoration for Life and it’s perfection, the more I am able to perceive things to adore around me. The more I surrender myself to Life by verbally admitting “not my will, but yours be done,” the more I get into the flow of what IS and disregard the passions of the ever-wanting Ego. The more I give thanks and praise, the more I have to be thankful for. I am getting excited right now just writing about what prayer can do!
Which lets me know, in my own experience, that prayer does work. It motivates me, generates excitement within me, and gives me the courage to face difficult situations. I can do this because I know, and have affirmed through prayer, that I have submitted to Life’s plan for existence, that I am in line with perfection, and despite my situation I can never run out of reasons to give thanks.
I used to pray to the old white man in the sky who sometimes granted my wishes and there was nothing wrong with that. I simply discovered how limiting that could be. Why pray to one deity when all of life, everything that exists, is aching to interact with my spirit? Why focus on one aspect of Creation when I can expand my awareness to the largest stars in the galaxy or the smallest particles underneath my foot?
Finally, the bible says to “pray without ceasing.” I love this concept because it is a way of being I aspire to embody. My whole life can be a prayer; everything I do will be a function of giving thanks, allowing or just simply loving Life. I want to pray all day, not in some dark closet, but in the streets and at the store. I want to pray in the gym and sing my prayers loudly as I drive through town. May we all pray together as we watch silly movies, read mystery novels and swim in community pools.
The act of prayer is the blessing.