Thursday, October 17, 2013

Prayer is more than Our Father Who Art in Heaven.

Prayer is more than hands folded and looking upward.

Prayer is a way of communicating with That-Which-is-not-Human.

Woman in the Water 
Many years ago when I was newly pagan the idea of prayer disturbed me intensely.  I hated the whole idea.  The way people would sit around with folded hands and beg for help from some power so remote that he barely managed to have gender bothered me.  This Being, who, if the story was correct, was so vast that he had created everything.  I seriously doubted the usefulness of such a tiny pinprick of emotion and need cast forth into the cosmos for something so large to notice.  Would it be anything but a drop in the bucket for something like that?

It seemed so self-serving anyway.  First world problems, if you know what I mean.  “Please let me just pass this test.”  Or “If only he would look at me.”

Fast-forward 15 years, and I get an email from a member of my grove. They are asking for prayers for their failing grandparent. Without hesitation I reply that I will get on that. I go to my altar and light my oil lamps.  I pour water into a stone well.  As I begin to speak the familiar words of cleansing and hallowing I light incense that wafts upward in delicate spirals.  I feel peace and calm descend upon me as I control my breath. My mind focuses on the task at hand and my worries about daily cares fade away for a time.

I give offerings of rice and hand spun yarn and speak words that feel meaningful to me.  These are no empty gestures. My hands tingle with energy and my mind is focused and calm.  I speak words with strength that I can feel resonate outward.  Long practice has built confidence in these patterns and in the Powers that I commune with. As I speak from my center I wait in stillness to see Who will come.

Sometimes I feel a heat rise within me radiating outward like a radio signal going toward the person in question.  Sometimes I see an image of a God or a Spirit in my minds eye.  Sometimes I recognize them.  Sometimes I don’t.  It doesn’t matter.  I am at a center of the world, and in that moment I am a channel for the sacred.  I allow myself to have faith in the process and in the relationships that I have built. Sacred Beings know more than I do.  I trust in the work, in my practice, and in the Gods and Spirits that I have built relationships with over the years to keep me safe and doing good work.

Prayer as petition is only the tip of the iceberg, or maybe in my case, the tip of the bonfire. We certainly communicate with the non-human in order to ask for things.  It’s a natural part of relationship.  Healthy relationships involve a take as well as a give. Which leads me rather naturally to another way to pray, the giving way.  Then there is the blessing way, the prayer of rapture and delight, the prayer of thanksgiving and probably lots I haven’t even thought of.  I believe there are a number of ways to pray, and I’m hoping to explore them in the coming months, particularly ways to use creativity in this idea of prayer as communication with the non-human.

Sun Woman Sees Their Pain

1 comment:

  1. Must be something in the air, that's 3 or 4 posts about prayer recently (including mine).

    I think for many that are just finding their way, prayer still carries a lot of baggage and unwanted memories. Eventually we move away from that, and come to realise that it's actually a wonderful way of focusing the mind, whether as a simple blessing to start the day, or as a deep drawing of energy for a specific purpose.



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