In this article, I will go over prayer as a powerful tool/way to bring about growth and change. I will discuss the approach that will yield greater and more personally fulfilling results through prayer.
Although the value or power of prayer is known to many and is presented as a way to commune with the Creator, I have not come across much in the way of how to use it accurately and purposefully.
I have spent a lifetime trying to figure this out, even after having been taught the value of prayer at a very early age. What I could not understand was why it worked well sometimes and not so well at other times. My questioning about this was often met with dismissal and avoidance.
Answers would be in the form of God does not want it for you, or even worse, I ask too many questions.
The pursuit of self-knowledge and learning about how we think and operate as human beings revealed to me the amount of stuff I had within me. This “stuff” was not in alignment with what I had come to believe God was.
To me, God is the unconditional love that expresses Divine Qualities in total perfection. Divine Qualities are the virtues that we all aspire to possess at a deep internal level.
It is my belief that the main purpose of our journey through life experience is to gain the understanding and mastery of these qualities in the best way possible. When we are able to do that we are able to know, understand and embody our True Self.
As an example, consider the Divine quality of Abundance. This word abundance has so many interpretations, many of them sounding valid and true. Each interpretation makes sense to an individual based on their current knowledge and understanding.
For me personally as I try to examine and relate to the word, not all interpretations make sense. I choose to adopt the interpretation that best fits my current level of awareness and understanding of life.
The truth is that Abundance is a Divine quality and is meant to be discovered and integrated within us, so it can be expressed through us in the most unlimited and unconditional way possible. This is just one example of a Divine Quality. There are hundreds and hundreds of others.
In the article, I list some of them. It has been my experience that we each focus on a few qualities within our lifetime.
We try to understand them and integrate them through our life experiences. Depending on a variety of factors we either do a good job of expressing them as closely as is possible to their true Divine expression or a poor job.
With Divine Qualities in mind, let us delve into what is meant by prayer. There is no easy definition of prayer. Prayer means different things for different people.
My definition or reference to prayer in this article is simply “Communication/Dialogue with a Higher Power by whichever name you prefer, God, Universe, Creator”.
This can be done in a variety of different ways. Some more common ways are through the recitation of prayers as prescribed by a religious organization, meditation, journaling, automatic writing, art, contemplation, walk-in nature, etc. I am not saying one way is better than another.
Each of us is unique in how we experience life, and this stands true for how we communicate with our Creator too. The important part is to recognize how we best connect and maintain that connection.
My preferred definition of prayer is “dialogue (a combination of self-inquiry, self-reflection, intuitive listening, and conversation) with my Creator”. I do this by writing or speaking from my heart and listening to what flows through in that process.
I don’t attribute a form or gender to God. God exists everywhere, at all times, in all things simultaneously.
Our perception of what God is is limited by how we have come to view God through religious teachings or spiritual practices to which we subscribe. Each of us has the right to hold a personal view.
The important thing is that we acknowledge the presence of Divinity as something that is available to us; to recognize that it is in our best interest to grow in alignment with it; to live within that alignment.
This is not a given.
We have to ask, seek, and reach out. One powerful way this can be done is through Prayer.
Application of Prayer
The power of prayer lies in its application, it must be intentional and focused on opening our mind, hearts, and will.
When prayer is directed to our shortcomings as expressed by our egotistical and egocentric personalities it produces a transformative change in our life.
But first, we must undertake the inner work.
We must take the time and effort to observe our behavior, our reactions, our limited thinking and understanding, and to identify clearly our challenges. When we direct our prayer to our findings, it draws in the graces needed to tackle what underlies our problems.
The remainder of this article discusses the proper attitude and mindset we must have in prayer. The attitudes of arrogance and pride will not yield the results we seek.
There is one caveat when it comes to prayers being met.
The results of our prayer might not be the ones that we think we want or deserve. They will be the ones that will help us overcome, transform, and reframe our current state of being in such a way that the challenges we face can be dealt with in the right way (for our greater good or the greater good of all concerned) even if it is not apparently clear.
The action might be demanded from us in response to our prayer. The individual must trust that the answer to their prayer even if it is not their desired outcome, has greater potential for individual and collective success and fulfillment.
The recommended prayerful approach is one that embodies the following attitudes and qualities:
Pray with Reverence – Reverence puts us in that space where we feel a deep sense of respect and awe for our Creator and our own life. This feeling comes from an open heart.
Pray with Faith – Faith has been described as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Faith in our own self and Faith in God is what we are expected to have.
Pray with Self-Awareness, Self Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom – Self-awareness from a place of objectivity, helps us understand ourselves, our limitedness, and the many factors that influence our life and our decisions.
Pray with a Sense of Personal Responsibility – When we pray with a sense of personal responsibility we get away from the role of “playing the victim” to our circumstances. We bring ourselves into the presence of God with ownership for our life however rotten and broken it might seem.
Pray with Intention – When we have spent time seeking to know ourselves we can see how our distorted views and perceptions are creating our reality. This self-knowledge allows us to become very clear and specific in our prayer. Our prayer is able to specifically target the problem. This is very powerful because we no longer make vague statements like: Make me a better person or Why are you doing this to me?
Pray with Detachment – The goal of any form of prayer is to communicate, retreat, and reflect. This allows our inner knowing to emerge. Detachment means to remain unattached to the outcome of prayer. Prayer is not about getting what we want but what will raise us up. We have to believe that there is a larger picture in play. When we are focused on ourselves and a specific outcome we do not allow a grander emergence to happen.
Pray with Deep Listening – Our prayer must involve deep listening that will guide us to greater awareness and understanding. Deep listening involves getting in touch with our intuition, to paying attention to it and being able to distinguish our own ego voice from the voice of Divine guidance.
Pray with Humility – Humility has to do with subduing the ego. The ego loves to be in complete control and knowing. It is not easy to subdue the ego. Our ego does not like to be seen as wrong or mistaken. In an egoic state, we will do everything to protect our internal fragility. This can come at the cost of holding onto inaccurate ideas, philosophies, and frameworks that are limited by nature and do not serve us in any productive way. Our ego can fill us with such useless pride that it will even counteract our attempts to change and shift our circumstances through the use of prayer. The only way around this is to live from a place of internal humility and to adopt a mode of persistent inquiry.
Pray with Openness and a Childlike Faith – A childlike spirit is curious and open. It helps if we assume a childlike faith without judgment and skepticism. It makes the whole experience of praying much more enjoyable.
I have explained the value of prayer in a manner that makes sense to me.
I value prayer, faith in God, and faith in myself. The use of prayer is like using a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets.
I have found that the more I use and apply prayer intentionally to my own internal misalignment with the Divine expression of Divine Qualities (which is my True Self), the more transformative are the results.