Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's the Problem with Prayer?

The Danger of Prayer

I grew up in prayer!

Everywhere, every moment and in every situation, speaking with "God" was at the core of my family's culture and way of life. Everything we did stressed the need to connect and relate to what we believed to be the source of life and hope.

And we prayed for everything!

If we were sad, we would pray for happiness. If we were happy, we would pray in gratitude. If in difficulty, we would ask for wisdom. If in distress, for healing.

And even after all these years, and countless, amazing experiences that came my way, prayer is still an important aspect of my life. My language, tools and ways of expressing myself have morphed to accompany the widening of perspectives I was lucky to get in life. But still, I continue to hold dear to me the peace, balance, hope, the moment of clarity, perspective and peace that comes from prayer.

However, before I go on, I think I need to stop for a moment and explain what I mean by "prayer".

No matter where in the world we come from or whatever is our cultural background, it seems we are all still so enveloped in our own religious heritage that inevitably, when we hear the word prayer, we immediately associate it with the traditional religious prayer we grew up with.

Here, I'm trying to use the term a bit more loosely and encompass all kinds of "prayer" - yes, meditation, yoga, kneeling by the bed side, in church; but also, walking through the woods, taking a breath of concentration before or after a particular task, reflecting on a particular memory, taking a shower to cool off frustrations, that crucial moment of the athlete before running or a musician before playing, paying attention to a special sunset, perhaps even getting a drink - who knows... Any particular process we do to reboot, concentrate, refocus our mind, reconnect and broaden our vision of the present moment, is somewhat prayer to me. And I think you would agree this to be an inevitable action we all participate in - religion and personal beliefs aside; consciously or not.

So today, whether if I close my eyes in church, or focus my mind during a yoga pose, clear my thoughts sitting on a pillow, breathe a little deeper when connecting with nature, or sip my Malbec, prayer reminds me that life is bigger, wider, deeper and forever higher than my thoughts will ever be able to grasp.

But just like any other powerful tool, prayer also comes with a big warning!

Looking back at my own experience growing up, I remember how many times we actually used prayer as a crutch. Problems were coming, difficulties would surround us at times, and we just prayed. We looked at the skies, we asked for an answer, we hoped for a miracle, but we did nothing else but pride in our "holiness".

As important as I continue to think prayer to be – in whatever form – I am also keenly aware of the easy tendency we sometimes have to utilize this sacred moment as an excuse for inaction. We hide behind a concept of omnipotence, we pride in our "spirituality" but we conveniently skip doing our part.

The fact is that no matter our religion – or lack thereafter; no matter the philosophy we base our lives in – or lack thereafter, we cannot hide from the fact that each one of us are solely responsible for the part of life that belongs to us. No one – not even the Gods – should, could or will ever do what is for us to do. That is a fact of life!

Our part belongs to us and us alone. Our days, our minds, our bodies, our time, our will, our strengths and weaknesses, our joys and sorrows are gifts for us to manage.

And this is not a burden, but a privilege! We were given the opportunity of life and of the experience of being in this world right now. Let's not forget of what is beyond and continue to actively connect with the energy, wisdom and insight that comes with prayer (of whatever kind), but let's also never forget and be conscious of our own responsibilities, live not under the spell of excuses, but take charge of what is in front of us to do.

What Is Your Experience with Prayer?
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  1. I think of prayer as quiet time shared between me and my higher power which I believe is God. I also agree that some people just pray and expect that to be the do all of the situation. Even the bible informs us that - James 2:14-26
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    Faith Without Works Is Dead

    1. Thanks for the quotation, Shantell. I guess the 2 come together, right! Good to connect here!