Most formal definitions of prayer speak to petitions, a request to do something, that's how I use to view prayer. Now I view prayer more as my line of communication to God.
My pastor discussed prayer in a recent service. He said that prayer is just being with God. That prayer is practicing the presence of God. I like that a lot. I believe the presence of God to be that of love and I like the idea of practicing that presence. He also said that prayer casts/drives away worry and fear. I've mentioned fear in a number of my posts and I do believe in the power of casting aside fear and worry through prayer and surrender. I once heard someone say, "If you are going to pray then don't worry. And if you are going to worry then don't bother praying. You can't be doing both." My pastor also said that prayer causes change, so that we should put on our crash helmets when we pray :) He did not mean this in a negative way, he meant it in a very positive and powerful way.
Sue Monk Kidd, best known as the author of The Secret Life of Bees, says that prayer is the attention of the heart. What we give the attention of our heart to matters deeply. We become what we pay attention to. She also believes that anytime you are fully present you are in prayer. I found that to be an intriguing comment that I like to ponder.
In a previous post titled, Good Morning Soul, Who Am I?, I discussed my morning prayer routine. This routine is special to me and something that I do everyday. I always start out my prayer time with expressions of gratitude. Gratitude raises my vibration, gets me in a good frame of mind, and allows me to instantly feel connected to Spirit. Because gratitude raises my vibration I feel it also ramps up my energy source, which makes my prayer more powerful. As I've mentioned before, our intentions (thoughts, words, beliefs) are powerful. I believe that if my intention, my belief, is that this will expand my energy and makes the prayer more powerful, than that's what it will become. Similar concept to what Sue Monk Kidd refers to as the attention of your heart.
I believe that the secret to prayer is to forget what we think we need. To turn it over and ask for God to show us the way. Not to pray for a specific outcome, but to pray for the highest and best good for all concerned. I surrender this, I turn it over, I let it go and pray for the highest and best good for me and for everyone involved. This sets the intention, brings awareness to the situation and releases it, opening up to creative solutions through surrender and through prayer. As Gabrielle Bernstein says, "Even just saying 'I surrender' is a prayer. That's enough to open the invisible door. We surrender what we think we know. When we pray for what we think we need, we block our intuitive power."
Now, in particular if I am faced with a challenge, instead of praying for a particular outcome, I pray for understanding and to find the lesson, if there is one. It helps me to sit in meditation with whatever the issue or challenge is and pretend that I am looking at it from above. Looking at it from all different angles and perspectives with the intention to better understand the situation. I look at it with curiosity. If it's a challenge I am having with another person, I try to look at it from their perspective and wrap it in empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. Then I ask for the highest and best good for everyone and surrender it.
If a particular prayer is especially important to me, then I have a special technique that I like to use that gives my prayer some extra powerful oomph. Here's how I like to do it...I build up my energy and my vibration with gratitude and actually visualize it growing either around me or in a ball in my hands, that I grow larger and larger as my energy grows. Once I've grown my ball of energy, I set my prayer intention and then use the ball of energy through visualization and by physically moving the energy out toward the person(s) I'm praying for. Or, if the prayer is for me, I dump the prayer energy over my own head and body. I know, I know, it sounds a little weird, but give it a try! Grow your energy through gratitude, set you prayer intention, and then send out the energy or give it to yourself.
Pamela Ashlay McPherson, a spiritual teacher, says, "Ask once and ask no more - When you ask through prayer or meditation; ask once and ask no more; if you continue to ask repeatedly, you are merely saying that you doubt that you are being heard or that life will respond to you." This was another interesting concept for me to ponder. I always thought that it was important to hold a prayer over and over to give it more intention. I'm curious what you think about this concept. Please leave me a comment if you have thoughts regarding this idea.