Prayer - please educate me - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-17-2003, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have recently been thinking about prayer. I can't quite figure out why people pray, but I know a lot of people who are not very spiritual or religious who do actually pray. What does it mean to pray? Is there anything you wouldn't pray about? Is it right to pray for something you want?

Please feel free to tell me anything you want about prayer and praying. I am fascinated but confused. Thanks!
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Old 04-17-2003, 05:19 PM
 
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In my opinion, prayer helps you to define what it is that you really want. ex: healing of an illness. Prayer sends your intentions out to the universe but also in to your heart. It helps me to really think about what is important to me, and that is what I pray about. It helps to calm me because I organize my thoughts and makes everything come into perspective. I also believe the bible verse "ask and ye shall receive". So I ask.
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Old 04-18-2003, 04:38 AM
 
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My answer is my beliefs...I am not posting this against anyone, just to answer your question.
Prayer is VERY important to me in my life and that of my family.
We are christians. We believe that we are to "pray without ceasing". To us prayer is speaking to God, through the Holy Spirit, and in Jesus' name. Prayer, to me, is talking to a close friend, or rather my Father. I go to Him in prayer when I am happy and when I am sad and especially when I am angry. I thank Him for all that He has done and for all that He has yet to do.
I used to ask for things when I prayed, "God, please help my dd to get better." "God, please bring us home safely." etc..
Due to some enlightenment some months ago, I now pray as if it has already happened, since I know it will. I have faith in my Lord. Now I say, "Thankyou, Lord, for healing my sick child," (when she is still ill) and "Thankyou for getting us home safely" as we are leaving to drive home.
I do not pray about just anything though. I would not pray for something that I believe he wouldn't want for me or my family. I can turn to His word to learn what those things might be. I do pray that His will be done in my life and that He use me as a tool.
I do not ever pray for something, without thanking Him first for what He has already done. I also daily ask for forgiveness for the times that I have not done what I should of or did want I shouldn't have.
I hope this hasn't confused you even more. It is hard to put into words what really is a heart matter.
I also believe that sometimes I don't have the words to say what I need to, but the Holy Spirit is there to interpret what is in my heart. God knows all about me, even the depths of my soul.
Tina
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Old 04-18-2003, 12:40 PM
 
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I pray "Mother, please help me find my patience." all too frequently.

It's not that I think some external Goddess is going to suddenly grant me all the patience I need for childrearing. It's reminding ME that I've got the internal resources I need already. I just need to remember that and use them.

"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 04-18-2003, 02:16 PM
 
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It's not that I think some external Goddess is going to suddenly grant me all the patience I need for childrearing. It's reminding ME that I've got the internal resources I need already. I just need to remember that and use them.
Oh, Meiri, I like that! Well said.

For me, prayer is not often a spoken thing, nor even a thought like "help me with this." So many times I find that something I didn't "pray" for came to pass.
That's a litle confusing, let me give an example:

I was thinking to myself "women have been making bread every day for years, there must be an easier way..." This was really important to me, and I longed for this with my soul! My essance cried out to the univers, and was ansered, with me ever saying "help me with this." Now, had I thought of praying about it, I certainly would have! Sometimes, though, your self prays without you even realizing it.

Did that make any sence at all?
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Old 04-18-2003, 02:24 PM
 
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Great thread!

My prayer has evolved greatly in recent years. I used to always say to people "I don't know how to pray" but now prayer is a central part of my life.

I was raised Catholic but several years ago I started exploring other forms of spirituality through a Unitarian Universalist church (of which I am now a member). I joined a drumming circle. I started practicing yoga. I began to experience prayer in many different forms and it was amazing.

To me prayer is the intentional alignment of my energy with the universal consciousness (which I call God). I believe prayer can happen anywhere, at any time, when we acknowledge the Divine in each other and the world around us.

I do pray for specific things, usually peace in all its forms...in my heart, in my home, in the world.

Thanks for starting this discussion.

~Erin
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Old 04-18-2003, 02:45 PM
 
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Oh, yes - yoga! An excelant way/time to pray!
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Old 04-18-2003, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the great replies. Keep them coming! They have given me a lot to think about. Any non-Christians who have thougths about prayer to share? Thanks!
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Old 04-18-2003, 05:38 PM
 
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I often use my form of prayer to center myself, to take time to look within. I'm a Unitarian Universalist, although I was raised Catholic and confirmed Methodist. I no longer consider myself a Christian and I do identify very strong with Goddess and earth-based spirituality.

In the mornings, I have a simple short prayer/meditation that thanks the goddess for the rest I was able to get and for the day ahead (which, to me, is much the way t-elaine uses her Christian prayers---to me, it's a form of optomism and trust in my own faith/spirit). Throughout the day, I may take moments here and there, especially when I'm feeling stressed or impatient, to thank the Great Mother for the gifts all around me. And, often at night, I will silently use prayer as a way to hand my worries over to the spirits. I pray and hope that they will mull them over and help me gain the perspective needed to deal with the larger problems and get over the minor ones.

I'm a morning person.  We actually do exist.
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Old 04-19-2003, 03:40 AM
 
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i think about what prayer means to different folks. my best friend is a christian, and she prays for me all the time. i align w/buddhism, and they may consider prayer differently, but it's still something outside oneself that connects you to yourself and everything in the universe. i think it's at the heart of sprituality, but not everyone feels comfortable with it. i don't think it's a red-line to santa or god for getting stuff. but i do think there's a lot of power in prayer. take the manifesting thread. that's basically a form of prayer. we all think about someone's issues and manifest blessings for them. and it's quite powerful.

it's been shown that people who are ill do better when someone prays for them than people who do not have someone praying for them. even if you don't know someone is praying for you - goosebumps.

i think you just need to come to terms with what it means to you and do waht feels comfortable.



Lori
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Old 04-21-2003, 03:40 AM
 
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I was raised without any formal religious or spiritual traditions, so I have come to prayer through my own seeking. When I pray I talk to the Goddess, and sometimes I sing or chant. It helps me to feel connected to spirit, it helps me to get clear about whatever it is that is going on for me, it brings me back to center. I like to pray out loud when I go for walks. It feels like talking to a friend.

I was taught at some point to begin every prayer by giving thanks, no matter how desperately I need help, which is a really nice way to keep things in perspective in life. I remember a quote that I heard through a friend, it is so simple, "The praise goes up and the blessings come down."
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Old 04-21-2003, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone have a book of prayers or meditations that they'd like to recommend, or a scholarly sort of a book about prayer that explains prayer traditions, philosophies, practices, and so on?

Many thanks for all the replies. It has given a lot of grist to my mill.
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Old 04-21-2003, 04:50 PM
 
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I like anything by Marianne Williamson. I just read "Everyday Grace" and I found it incredibly inspiring. I have a copy of one of her prayers posted near my bathroom so I can stop and read it every morning.

And another favorite of mine is Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance ~ it focuses on prayers of gratitude.

I also like "Earth Prayers" by Elizabeth Roberts (not a how to pray book...but a nice collection of Earth-based prayers).

~Erin
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Old 04-21-2003, 04:58 PM
 
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I second the recommendation of Earth Prayers. I keep it by "my" chair in the living room.

The Parent's Tao Te Ching by William Martin is excellent too.

"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 06-13-2003, 11:40 PM
 
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Hi - I use the terms "prayer, meditation, visualization, being present, centering, grounding, etc." I use this time to give thanks, to ask for clarity/guidance/assistance, AND to listen for answers/information. Sometimes prayer is associated with asking; listening/being receptive is where the magic occurs. And, of course, gratitude is the faith that it is done!

Blessings - Angela
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Old 06-15-2003, 02:32 AM
 
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I'm Jewish--I like to pray the traditional Jewish liturgy. It is resonant with meaning to me. I can hear the words I am reciting to myself in the mouths of other people before me, in other place and at other times. And the words are extremely beautiful. I've always liked to reread books, to read the same words again and again. Prayer is a supernal version of that experience.

(Just think of a toddler who keeps asking you to read Good Night Moon! then imagine that Good Night Moon is incredibly beautiful poetry in Hebrew that's thousands of years old...)

Some of the liturgy, like on the High Holidays, gets me into thinking about how I can be a better person.

Sometimes I also feel close to God when I pray. I wish it was always, but it's not.

I also like to pray for people to get well. I am not always as sure as some of the other people here about what that does, but I can't think of anywhere else to address such a petition. So I either do it in the context of a service (there are a couple of places to add prayers for healing) or I just sit where I am and ask God for that.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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Old 06-15-2003, 02:38 AM
 
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I've prayed for as long as I can remember. I used to consider myself a very strong Christian, but I stopped that when I realized that what I believe in is not Christianity, but rather the power of goodness and striving and change. I realized that I love nature and trust nature. And one of my biggest revelations is that my core beliefs had very little to do with the Christian bible or going to church. Throughout all of my self-introspection, I prayed and meditated as I had always done. It centers me and gives me peace and definitely brings clarity, as some of you have mentioned. I don't think I will ever stop praying, nor do I want to. It is beautiful.

Around the time that I was deeply questioning my beliefs, I came upon a book called Peace Is Every Step by a very simple, very marvelous human being, a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hahn. From Thich Nhat Hahn I learned about the concept of "mindfulness," or the act of being fully aware, awake and conscious. What a wonderful form of prayer that is! This concept revolutionized prayer for me simply by showing me that I could be in a state of prayer all day long simply by being mindful. That book really helped change my life, and I still use it today as my choice book of guidance.

My husband (a former, very devout, Lutheran and grandson of a very respected Tanzanian Lutheran pastor) and I often discuss prayer in the Christian sense. There are many aspects of it that confuse me/us, for example, to have to repeatedly pray for peace or healing. And mind you, I do this as well. I'm not sure if that is very clear, and I am also a bit intimidated to pursue it any further. (That said though, I do think activism combined with prayer is phenomenal!)

I also believe strongly in giving thanks and showing gratitude as a form of prayer because, really, I am awed by so much in the world. I am awed by nature. I am awed by my child. I am floored by the goodness of so many people.

Without prayer, I would feel lost and disconnected. I guess that is it for me: essentially, prayer connects me to me and to goodness.

peace,
nappyhair
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