As a nonbeliever, it may surprise you that I pray. However, I learned at a retreat that sometimes, saying prayers is good for everyone. At that retreat, I started practicing praying, and at first, it was very weird. But then I realized something: I had actually being saying prayers all my life! I just wasn’t thinking of them in those terms. |
I sometimes attend a church in Amsterdam. I love the energy in this old building, but I could never follow the prayers. I’ve tried a number of other churches, other religions, but most of the time, I just couldn’t follow the prayers. This retreat taught me how to say a prayer, and it helped me connect to these religious ceremonies.
The first thing I learned to do when praying is to say thank you. That’s where all prayers start.
Then you put your intentions out there. The intention of a prayer can be anything—it can be that the spirit moves through you, that your friend meets the goal they set, or that a bad situation is resolved. When I’m with someone who doesn’t know how to pray or don’t particularly want to pray, I try to tell them about prayer without using that term. For example, I say that they should think about what they’re grateful for every day. I might tell them that I hope that their son gets the grades he needs or that their daughter gets over her illness. That’s a type of prayer, even if I’m not using that word.
Thanks to what I learned and experienced at the retreat, I now really feel it when I say a prayer. I’m not necessarily talking to a specific deity, but it is like talking to someone—like Tom Hanks talks to the volleyball in the movie Castaway. In fact, his talking to the volleyball is a type of prayer, I think.
Praying can be done alone, but it can also be done with others. Families often pray together. Even before I started praying, I noted that the family on one of my favorite TV shows, Blue Blood, always said grace before every meal. Saying a prayer together creates a very strong group energy, and it can bring people together.
Outside of church, prayer is often done immediately. You don’t think about what you’re going to say—the words should come from your belly and your heart, not from your head. It should be a none interference prayer. You should feel a shifting in your body after saying the prayer as you connect to that deep spiritual energy. You should really feel connected to the prayer and truly give thanks for what you have. Others should also be able to really deeply feel your prayer. Most prayers should also serve someone or something else besides you. This makes the prayer much more powerful because you’re putting that good energy out there on behalf of someone else.
There is a structure I have for a prayer, and this helps to practice it. First, close your eyes and calm yourself. You may need to go to a space where you’re alone, at least at first. Then focus on the right side of your chest where your second open space heart is. Feel the energy and the love there. Start your prayer by addressing the person, deity, or concept you’re praying to. Many religious people start out prayers with “Dear God,” but you don’t have to. You can substitute any deity of your choice or use concepts like spirit, universe, or nature. Pray to whatever you’re comfortable with.
Next, give thanks for something. Say what you’re grateful for. It can be anything—the nice weather, the chance meeting with an old friend, etc.
Then you move on to the intention. What do you want or need? Why are you saying this prayer? Your intention can be for more than one thing, and it can be for anything from a relative finding their lost pet to world peace.
End the prayer with something like “If that’s thy will, Let thy be done. Amen.”
If you put in the gratitude and intention, if you truly connect with your energy, and if you put that energy out there for others, you will find that what you pray about starts to happen. Make your intentions pure and good, and you will find that the positive energy comes back to you. Once you’ve practiced prayer, it will become almost second-nature, and it will become much easier to do. I strongly encourage everyone to pray every day.
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