How do I pray? (For answers) - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-01-2010, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a complete spiritual misfit, considered myself an athiest all my life but realized a few years ago that I was always actually agnostic. I was raised in the Catholic church, baptized there and first communion though I declined confirmation because I didn't believe - and I respect religion too much to pretend. I was taught the Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary, but my experience with them was that they were chants. I never communed with God with these prayers.

A few years ago I came to the point where I realized I was spiritual but I honestly did not subscribe to any religion I studied (Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Wicca....).

I think I've only really prayed once, about a year ago, and it was so awkward. I felt like I was talking to myself. I gave it an honest try and kept my mind and heart open, but I just couldn't feel anything. My prayer was something like, "I feel you out there, I don't know anything about you or your ways but I want you to know that I am open to you and will try hard to listen for your voice." Except it was a lot less elegant than that, that was just the gist of it.

DH does not pray often (he is a religious misfit as well, but his faith in God is sure) but he has before. He says he feels like he gets a response, not silence - but the response is always confusing to him. He has never had the experience of praying and then feeling clearer after.

I know asking "how do you pray" is probably something like "how do you love your husband and children" but maybe someone has some ideas that might make sense to me.

Also, do you think it's wrong to pray for clarity, at least at this point? I mean, not clarity in God, but clarity in my life. So it's sort of selfish. On the other hand, maybe this clarity topic is kind of a conversation-starter of sorts. I don't believe God has a personality like people do; it's difficult for me to picture hurting God's feelings or requiring certain etiquitte. If the openness and honesty and respect is there, is it enough? I'm not praying for a million dollars or anything stupid like that; I am at a crossroads right now and I want to know which way is the best way to go in order to be a good person and to live the life I should live.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 08-01-2010, 02:26 PM
 
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"I was taught the Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary, but my experience with them was that they were chants. I never communed with God with these prayers."

I don't know anything about Catholicism, but I think they can be used as chants or as real prayers depending on the attitude of the person saying them. I find that the Lord's prayer is a nice starting point for prayer, but I don't begin there every time, just usually when I don't know what to say and yet feel a need to say something. Remembering that God is the God of the whole universe, that He is set apart, that His greatness (and goodness) is so great, that He has introduced Himself to us as a Father, that He supplies everything that we need, forgives us all our mistakes, and rescues us, etc, remembering again "for Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever." It is a very real prayer for me in this way.


Also, do you think it's wrong to pray for clarity, at least at this point? I mean, not clarity in God, but clarity in my life. So it's sort of selfish. On the other hand, maybe this clarity topic is kind of a conversation-starter of sorts. I don't believe God has a personality like people do; it's difficult for me to picture hurting God's feelings or requiring certain etiquitte. If the openness and honesty and respect is there, is it enough?

Yes, absolutely pray for clarity, both for your life and of this God whom you are praying to. Most prayers are selfish in a way, because we pray for a need for ourselves, but really, according the Bible, we are instructed to do so. "Cast all your cares and anxieties on the Lord, because He cares for you." You can talk to God about all the things that are concerning you, from little and petty, to significant decisions, to the things and people in the world. God is a friend; you can talk to Him about anything. And as you get to know friends, you appreciated them more, thank them for things, and notice the good things about them.

Openness, honesty, and respect is enough to get the conversation started, yes, but part of having a conversation is getting to know each other. It's kind of hard to have a conversation if you don't know who you are talking to. I think if God is able to have a conversation, then He must have a personality, but I agree with you that He is not hurt in the way people are regarding feelings. He is the God of the universe, He knows everything, and understands people completely. He forgives us all of our inadequacies and selfishness, whereas people don't tend to.

My prayer was something like, "I feel you out there, I don't know anything about you or your ways but I want you to know that I am open to you and will try hard to listen for your voice."

I'm not praying for a million dollars or anything stupid like that; I am at a crossroads right now and I want to know which way is the best way to go in order to be a good person and to live the life I should live.

These are certainly the prayers that my God, Jesus, answers.
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Old 08-01-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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I think the Our Father and Haily Mary can be used chant like (and in some cases, such as when you're praying the rosary and meditating on the mysteries, that's not necessarily a bad thing). But generally I try to say them slowly and delibarately and really feel and think about what I'm saying. They're both really beautiful prayers when you really look at them.

There's nothing wrong with praying for clarity. Actually, that's a great prayer that we all probably need to pray more!

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My prayer was something like, "I feel you out there, I don't know anything about you or your ways but I want you to know that I am open to you and will try hard to listen for your voice."
I think this is perfect for where you're at. Prayer doesn't always have to be formal. Really, anytime your heart is turned towards Him you're praying. He's calling to you, just keep your heart open.
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Old 08-01-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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There are so many different ways to pray, personal prayer is simply a case of finding what works for you. There are many devotional/meditative prayer books out there, which can be helpful. B writes his own prayers, specific to his own personal spiritual needs, then modifies/rewrites them as those needs evolve.

I like this site (administered by the Irish Jesuits), and use it often when I want to converse with God and I'm at a loss for prayer. It begins with a great spiritual reflection for each week.

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I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. 

 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 

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Old 08-02-2010, 01:06 AM
 
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I think you absolutely should pray for clarity! This is something we should probably all be praying for, and something I pray for quite often.

For me, I just pray as if I am talking to a friend. Sometimes I even start with, "Oh Lord, I don't know where to start." And then it will kind of come to me.

I think having some quiet time to reflect on things is essential. I think if you are journalling or keeping track of your thoughts in some way, sometimes God can point out things to us that way.

Each person is different though, and God may speak to you in different ways. Just listen and I do believe you will be led. FWIW, I will pray for you to gain some clarity, and to feel more comfortable praying.
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:04 PM
 
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I often wonder about praying as well. Thanks for the thread. I don't really have any advice though. I hope you find what you're looking for.

I have boys! My first baby boy was born 10/08 and my second baby boy was born 7/12

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Old 08-03-2010, 12:36 AM
 
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I often pray for wisdom, guidance and clarity, so I'm totally with you there. I tend to do more asking/telling in prayer, so I make it a point to also pray for the ability to be still, listen and 'hear' divine guidance, just like you are saying. Gratitude is always part of it for me as well.

I'm sure with practice you'll find it more comfortable. I don't think there's any right or wrong way to pray. I'm sure you're doing just fine.
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Old 08-03-2010, 02:48 PM
 
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God sees our heart. An honest, open prayer for wisdom will be seen/heard!

He gives wisdom generously to those who ask for it. Just be prepared for some hard responses. His ways are not our ways and sometimes really hard to hear.

But share your heart with God. Wait, pray, hope, be kind, seek wisdom, pray some more.
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Old 08-04-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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Just chiming in with an agreement there's isn't a right/wrong way to pray, I do think there is the sincere prayer or conversation vs. insincere prayer.

My time in meditating with the goddess I have "heard" but mostly felt responses and they are confusing to say the least.

For me - I appreciate the ritual, the lighting of the candles, the calling of the quarters to help the tone in my mind and heart to be open or focused on my request.

Sometimes though - I just take 5 minutes before bed to breathe, and focus on opening up and listening for any messages. That has helped too.

treehugger.gifAnd you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.treehugger.gif

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Old 08-08-2010, 12:05 AM
 
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I actually adore the Lord's Prayer and use it often. In fact I was in a very stressful situation recently. I attended a home visit for a very sick friend where several of us worked in shifts to monitor her and keep her safe. I spent hours praying the Lord's Prayer.

I have spent a good amount of time getting to know it in depth, the meanings and intentions around each part. For me, it's almost the only prayer I need. That said, I do have others that I use...but that's the biggie.

IN it I get connection. I find understanding. I get to give my worries over. I am reminded that I am not in control. I am reassured that we can create heaven NOW on earth. I receive abundance, forgiveness and compassion amongst other things. It's really just perfect. It's a great place to start.

Other than that, just have a dialogue. I find that prayer is a great time to just talk. I'm not one that "hears" things back. I just find peace in my soul as I give things over. I don't need to have the "right words" either. I really believe that the intent is the most important part.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:21 AM
 
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some say that in prayer, you talk to G-d, and in meditation, you listen to g-d.

I pray in so many different ways. Sometimes I pray in traditional prayers. Which sometimes is increadibly powerful and meaningful and sometimes is not so much, but I still find value in it. Sometimes I talk to g-d and say what's in my heart. Sometimes, I'll sing, or cry, to g-d. When I pray, I try to really completely open up to g-d. Which means showing G-d how happy or terrified or angry I am. Sometimes it means yelling at G-d. Sometimes it means crying and sobbing my fear. Sometimes it means singing g-d's praises.

I think it's not only fine, I think it's great to ask for clairity in any matter. I just wouldn't expect a concrete answer. That said, I find I get more "response" and clairity when I meditate on an issue than when I pray about it. For me, that praying is talking to g-d and meditating is listening definitely feels true.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotmamacita View Post
God sees our heart. An honest, open prayer for wisdom will be seen/heard!

He gives wisdom generously to those who ask for it. Just be prepared for some hard responses. His ways are not our ways and sometimes really hard to hear.

But share your heart with God. Wait, pray, hope, be kind, seek wisdom, pray some more.


You don't have to speak to pray, or even think the words. God hears you, sees you, experiences you - just as you are.
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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A reverend friend has this on her blog. I'm doing this from memory, so forgive me if it's a little off.

First, pick an opening. Spirit of Life, Name Unnamed, Beloved, Redeemer, God of Grace and Glory, whatever you like.

Then, decide why you have decided to pray. There are eight basic types of prayer - Yes! No! Please! Wow! Why? When? Please? How?

The questions are what you are seeking to obtain answers to (Why me? When will ___ happen? How will I handle ___? Please give me courage to do ___?"

Yes is what you are embracing! (My new cactus is blooming! My children didn't flood the bathroom when they took a bath!)

No is what you are resisting. (I'm having a really hard time seeing why having my car engine die is part of any kind of a larger plan.)

Thanks is how you are grateful. (A pay raise, a woman I love, and a nice house... awesome!)

Wow is how you've been amazed today. (I watched the sunset and it was spectacular)

And then you can close. "Amen" or "Peace, salaam, shalom" or "blessed be" or, again, whatever you want or feel comfortable with.

And it gets easier with time.
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