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How do children pray? Their simple words spoken softly with hands folded before them casts
the image of innocent supplication with
sincerity that reaches up into the realms of angels. In their hearts, they are asking for
help for themselves and for others from God, to
make everything safe before they lie down to sleep. Their simplicity and genuiness is
touching. Even if they only recite a mechanical
prayer taught to them by their elders, they do so without design. They simply pray.
It is the same for adults. When we pray, we ask. And the answer sometimes comes in
surprising ways, perhaps as words in our heads, or
a moment of clarity. Or it may be answered with events, or something that happens in some
way unconnected and unexpected. Or it
may be answered with nothing, with no apparent results from our prayers. In the mysterious
workings of our universe, the prayer may
have been registered in some realm but without apparent effect.
Prayers, like being, have their own presence in the existence that is the body of God. We
can express them in many ways, such as art
works, or labors for others, or gifts. When the ancients built their temples to their
gods, they were offering their prayers. The same for
when beautiful cathedrals were built in Medieval Europe, or the great temples of Buddhists
and Hindus, or fabulous Moorish mosques,
all expressed their reverence for God. For those prayers, there were no immediate
expectations, save the beatification of the glory of their
belief. Their prayers were more like gifts than demands. And to them no answer was sought,
except the confirmation of their love for
Creation expressed in the physical reality of their worship. By building beautiful
temples, they made real in the world what they felt in
Between prayer for demand and prayer for giving there is a fine line. In one, there is the
belief that somehow divine intervention will help
us resolve some wish or need; in the other, it is a trust that in our belief we will
somehow be delivered through our worship of the divine.
Both seek the same intercedence from a higher power. That this intercedence exists is
evident in the universality of this human behavior:
We all prayed and built temples all over the world throughout time. Even today, we pray
and worship, and build and write and create
music, for a greater glory than just material gain. We had then, as now, reached out for
something greater, something beyond the
tangible, beyond the complexities of this material world and into the divine of another
one. Through spoken and physical prayers, we had
reached into our hearts to communicate outwardly with earnestness and beauty for the
greater Being we call God.
The fine line between our prayers and our gifts is that both are powered by our faith.
Even if there is no answer from God, the faith
persists, as it should. In the mysterious structural web of our universe, we do not know
that in each prayer we are not rearranging, like
delicate patterns in the sand, the many ways of our reality. If the answer to prayer comes
from the greatest complexity of existence, from
that Being that is the interrelationship of all being, then such communication may perhaps
be too mysterious for our minds to understand.
In fact, the answers may be clearly before us, but we cannot see them. It could be that as
all reality rearranges itself in relation to our
needs, it is coming closer to us, to touch us in some divine way. All of Being may be in
on this except we who are still too ill equipped to
know it. We push out into reality with our demands, and expect that reality will push back
with an answer. But consider this, that by
pushing, we may also be pushing the answer away from us, and thus force it to rearrange
itself in some other way. If so, then the answer
to our prayers may come back to us in forms unintelligible, though beneficial in the end.
And this may very well be why at times we feel
abandoned in our prayers to God. We are not abandoned, however, ever. And when the answers
to our prayers do come, it is often in
the form of a beautiful gift.
This is why praying simply, like a child, may be the purest form of communication with the
Creator. If we pray without expectation,
without aggressive demand, but offer our souls more as if a gift, the communion is a more
direct link with all that is our greater Being.
We reach out into ourselves out there, at the greatest dimensions of our cosmic being, and
it comes back to us with answers structured in
their own way, in their own time. But this is done beyond the mere physical, since it is
also done out there, at the farthest levels of the
spiritual. We do, we act, we pray, and we solicit; and from all of Being comes action,
answers, and divine intervention. When we have
faith in this, it happens naturally, though not necessarily on the terms we dictate.
Through prayer, we cast ourselves into the elements of
existence and surrender in our will ourselves to the divine. Then, it works. But if we
approach this existence with expectations, then it
may or may not answer to our will. That is the mystery and the test of our prayers. And
when they are answered, it is an
acknowledgement from all of existence.
So is this not wonderful? To know that when our communion with God is within the context
of His Will, it works, easily and beautifully.
We grow with each spiritual breath we take. With each prayer or word uttered, even in
silent meditation, there is a link between our
higher spiritual selves and the order of all Creation. The answers may not always be what
we expect or wish for, but they are there
nevertheless. We can talk to God through prayer, and have God talk to us, and there is no
correct way to do this, save to do it simply,
with humility and earnest submission. If that is how the world works, then praying is
wonderful and no more difficult than breathing.
And like a magical mantle, it spreads its breath over us and carries us through our most
difficult times. To ease the pain and fear that
sometimes overtake us like a dark storm, when life gives us what appears to be so
hopeless, so broken; then those are the times when we
should turn to prayer. But we should also pray in a spirit of giving and cast a blessing
on all beings. Nothing is lost when it is given thus,
and much is gained, for the gift is from God.
So to simply pray is the answer. Whether we pray kneeling, or prostrate, or standing, or
spinning a wheel, it does not matter, if it comes
purely from the heart. In some cultures, prayer is rendered several times a day, and in
others, it is offered by circling the god three times;
and still others when three or more are assembled. All call to a holy Spirit. And in some
places, prayers are not allowed. The world
becomes a cold place if prayer is denied us. But we all do things in our own way, in our
own time, and prayers are answered, even if
they are only whispered in our heads. When we fold our hands before us and turn our minds
to the divine, or take the hand of another,
we displace being with out spiritual being. Whether we pray in congregation or alone,
nothing is lost, nor our spirituality denied. They are
all the ways we communicate with the highest Being in our universe. That we are spiritual
beings who through prayer are in touch with
our divinity is simply who we are. Even if only in our thoughts to give thanks, we pray.
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