Memories of all the different "forms" of prayer that I was taught ... rote prayer, memorized prayer, contemplative prayer, intercessory prayer, warfare prayer, petitionary, praise, speaking in tongues and healing prayer ...
I don't know about you, but prayer was always a bit of a mystery to me. As if others knew something that I didn't ... or had something that I was missing ... as if I were born without something vital, where effective prayer was concerned ... some folks are born without a pancreas ... perhaps I was born without the vital organ necessary for connecting with God ...? Perhaps I was spiritually diabetic?
I spent many years, no, make that decades, feeling utterly defective, spiritually speaking ... going through the motions, assuming the proper positions and facial expressions ... mimicking, and wondering if everyone else was faking, too ...
Such ponderings were dangerous, though ... far better to follow the crowd, and do what was expected of me ... far better to fit in, than to question and be ostracized.
So, I did that, until I just couldn't do it anymore ... I had to abandon ship.
One of the things that most bothered me about prayer was the notion, whether stated or implied, that I have a need, and God is somehow, for reasons I could never figure out, holding out on me. I'd be told contradictory things -- ask and receive (& you won't get unless you ask rightly!), and yet God knows what I need before I ask ... so why ask? And what's the deal about a bunch of us praying together, as if to gang up on a reluctant God..? What manner of God is this?
My notions of God, and therefore of prayer, have radically altered over time ... due to my changes in both perspective and experience. I no longer see God as "out there, somewhere" & separate from me. I see myself, in fact ALL things, as being primordially connected TO God -- or the Divine. Or Source of Life. Or the Universe. The labels don't matter ... the awareness of connectivity does.
I'm willing at this point to let my outmoded notions of prayer fall by the wayside, and to learn what prayer really is ... for what is life, if not an ongoing process of unlearning and relearning ... or of shedding what isn't, and realizing what IS...?
I now see God as the energy of all that IS. Divine energy. Filling and comprising all things, both seen and unseen. I no longer see this divine energy existing outside of me, doing my bidding, if I ask properly. I see that I am made up OF this divine energy ... it is me, it is everything. There is nothing which It is not.
And so, I see prayer as my own intentioned thinking and emotions, which bring me into alignment with what already is in existence ... that which is already most true IN me, and OF me, which then allows that reality to unfold into experience in the "outer" world around me.
In other words, what I pray for, I already have ... but most of the time, I am just not aware of it.
I don't have a need-deficiency... I have an awareness-deficiency.
My job, should I choose to see and accept it, is to realize that t6he spirit of the Divine is already in me, as me. I am to acknowledge its presence, and to ask that it manifest in me and through me ... and to give me the strength to do whatever it is that I need to do.
I even believe that Divine wisdom (which is also my truest identity!) already knows what I am to do -- I just need to see it, and to do it.
I see that for far too long, my prayers have been results-oriented ... I need, I lack, I want, gimme-gimme-gimme...! I thought I saw lack, I thought I needed XYZ in order to be happy/fulfilled/peaceful, and I clamored for it. And grew angry when it seemed that I was being deprived of what I needed.
I'm learning that prayer is actually an affirmation of what already exists. I'm daring to start to believe that I already have, and already am, all that I need. I just need eyes to see.
Prayer is an acknowledgment of my trust in the Divine to provide everything I need, when and as I need it. Because it's already there...!
Now, just as sure as I'm sitting here, typing this out, the Universe/Divine Mind will now conspire to bring about situations/relationships/circumstances that will teach me that this is indeed true ... all things must move from mere concept to experiential reality before I can own them. Concepts are fine on paper, and as flotsam/jetsam in the mind ... but in order to live them out, I have to first experience them.
So, I type these things, and I wince as I do ... knowing that I'm about to undergo something, or many things, that will make this reality for me.
Here's what spoke to me from my reading this morning, about prayer (from "One Day My Soul Just Opened Up" by Iyanla Vanzant):
When we do not understand who we truly are we generally miss the true meaning of prayer. Call forth the Divine within as the strength you need in order to do what you know you must do. If you must make a decision, all forth the Divine. If you must resolve a conflict, call forth the Divine. If you need healing, financial supply, strength, or wisdom, call forth the Divine. Know that what you need already exists within you, and perhaps you simply are not aware of its existence around you. Call forth the Divine within, not so that you can get something, rather so that you can realize something. Call forth the Divine, not by begging, or pleading, rather with trust that when you call, It will show up. Prayer is a calling forth of the Divine that results in your mind, body, and spirit being brought into alignment with exactly what you need in any given moment.
I know what the Divine knows.
I have what the Divine has.
I am what the Divine is.
I trust the One Life, One Mind, One Power, One Presence to manifest at its fullest potential and fulfill every desired good in my heart.
I am grateful for the awareness of this truth as it unfolds.
So be it...!
P.S. For those who may want to explore the inter-connectivity of all things from a more scientific perspective, I recommend watching this engaging and informative series on youtube, called, "What the BLEEP Do We Know?" (there are several parts - here is Part I):