I have a question for you. Well, actually I have several questions. What is prayer? How do you pray? What are you attempting to do? Are you doing it right? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you wasting your time? Does it do any good?
These are peculiar questions coming from one who used to pray in the traditional sense rather a good bit. During those times of prayer I was attempting to pray for someone or something, I had a goal and prayed for that goal. Because of my relationship with God at that time I would attempt to pray for the things that I believed God wished me to pray. This was a bit like attempting to know God’s mind. The easiest prayer time was when I was a young girl before I turned fifteen and left the Catholic Church. That act just happened to coincide with Vatican 2. As a young Catholic I just said my Hail Mary’s and whatever else was prescribed at confession and that was it. Job done. Of course everything in those days was in Latin. This did not create much of a sense of spiritual understanding or commitment within me. There was definitely something “missing.” And so my path began at quite a young age.
I have had two significant spiritual experiences each of which radically changed my life. After the second experience in 2005 I found myself online in a writing forum. This was a site where ideas were traded, stories told or politics discussed among other things. I saw that there were often two opposing sides especially during an election. The loudly professed Christians were a wild bunch. Truth be told I have never experienced or seen so much vitriol and pure hatred come from anyone towards others as I saw coming from them. I had spent many years working with those who had AIDS/HIV. This was the most rewarding work that I have ever done and I shared stories about the work. It was also something that these Christians did not like at all. These experiences had a very unsettling effect on me. I stopped referring to myself as Christian. At that time my prayer life radically changed. I am the sort of person who engages 150% and then I need a break, I am grateful God has always accepted that in me, understanding I guess, that I was tired and worn out.
I have been fascinated by the spiritual disciplines of the world for a long time. I have studied them much of my life. As a result I pretty much view religions as languages that God has given to different cultures as a means of communication between God and the culture. Meant to be languages of love they have too often become tools of war. The aspect of each discipline that held my attention was always about healing. Thus I have studied healing techniques from across the globe. I found shamanism to be the most interesting of these disciplines. It is the oldest system of healing in existence. I was prompted into formal studies of shamanism. It is a fifty thousand year old system of healing with the same techniques practiced in Lapland that are practiced within Amazonian indigenous cultures, North American indigenous cultures and around the world. They are techniques that work. Could they be a form of prayer? Is healing a form of prayer? Surely one is involved in healing because they care for others.
Many formal and scientific studies have been executed in medical settings measuring the effects of prayer upon patients. These studies can be fallible as the groups of patients who are not prayed for by study prayerists (my word) may be prayed for by family members oceans away when they were not to be receiving prayers. This is not something that could be controlled within the control group. There are studies that show prayer to be beneficial. But there are studies that show prayer not to be beneficial at all and found at times to appear to be detrimental.
I have come to believe that prayer is the channeling of love or loving energy from yourself to another or the channeling of Gods love through you to another. And I mean this literally. When in prayer I used to put my hands together. A bit later in my spiritual journey I held them upward, I think to receive energy from God. Today, I rub my hands together generating energy and then channel it to another.
Is this prayer? I don’t know. But for me at this time it is. So what is prayer to you and how do you do it?
As always linking with Soul Dipper’s Occupy Blogosphere Thursday