I have decided that prayer is not about getting what I want. Half the time, I don’t know what I really want. I’m not even sure that prayer is about getting what I seek. Too often, I’m like a hamster on a wheel chasing my tail; and then wondering why I’m coughing up fur balls. I’m sure that prayer is not about getting what I deserve. Desert may come at the end of a meal, but justice is the illusion of an end point in a circle. Nothing is final. So I don’t want to be distracted by my insatiable desire for answers and outcomes.
Prayer is something other than a list of needs, wants or pleas. Prayer is a process of making peace with what is and preparing myself to be the change I wish to see in my life and the world. Prayer is about attracting “like” to “like”. The more I grow to understand myself, the more I understand what I am attracting into my life. It becomes clear what is serving me, and filling my life with joy. I seek more of that by BEING more of that, and it finds me because it IS me. What I want, what I need, and who I am, become one.
Joan Borysenko puts it like this -
“The connection between what we hope for and our own self is a field of infinite power and potential that can open doors that seemed to be closed, or were invisible to start with. What we seek also seeks us.”
With this view of prayer, walls turn into doors, hurdles turn into spring boards and crises turn into opportunities. Roses still have thorns. Joints still age and creak. Jobs are still lost. Relationships still end in tears. Pain is deep. The challenges don’t rock your inner peace. You deal with the challenge, and keep moving towards the light.
I pray for strength and receive challenges that make me strong.
I pray for wisdom and receive experience that makes me wise.
I pray for freedom and receive perspective that makes me free.
I pray for outcomes and receive creativity that turns endings into new beginnings.
I pray for healing and receive peace to deal with pain.
Civil rights lead, Howard Thurman, described prayer as an inward journey across an interior sea to an island. In the center of the island stands a temple and inside the temple burns a flame. That’s where prayers go.
That makes sense to me. If my prayers go anywhere they go straight back into the flame of my own divine abundance. The answers are all there. Nothing was lacking to begin with. All prayers lead to peace. The tormented and often egoic dance with prayer has its purpose. It’s like a vision board. I put it all out there in whatever form I can manage and see what emerges.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about this in Eat Pray Love-
“Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well- considered intention. If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.”
I’m falling to my knees as I type. How liberating to surrender to the infinite power that opens doors that I hadn’t even seen. What I seek finds me. Here it is now swirling at my feet. From my knees, it’s all too clear to see.