Richard Rohr in The Naked Now defines prayer as “…any interior journeys or practices that allow you to experience faith, hope and love within yourself.”
He affirms that prayer is not a transactional thing we do to get what we want, but rather a way of accessing a more easeful feeling-state through whatever means available to us (movement, communion, journaling, being in nature, etc).
If you don’t believe that a greater universal intelligence exists in the world, then I wonder why it is that you are here, leaning with curiosity into these teachings.
If you do believe in this great intelligence, then my question is: how intimately are you in relationship with it? A spiritual connection is only useful if we learn to call upon this spirit.
BUT DID YOU PRAY?!
The question that punctuates my days, particularly the ones when I’ve drifted away from this connection and things have become a little clunky, is “but did you pray?!”
As in, for all my efforting, trying to manage the tasks at hand, be the best version of myself, did I remember to cease my own striving for perfection for a moment to pray - to invite the hand of the unseen into my life to clear my path, weave miracles and bring ease? Ease is, after all, the aim for most of us when it comes to our spiritual curiosity. But, (regularly), when things become less than ease-full, I find myself being reminded of the fact that I have drifted from prayer.
Say for example, you did everything you could to plan for an event/test/opportunity and all the ‘doing’ that goes into it, but then when it comes to the day it feels like swimming upstream. You think, “why is this so hard? I wanted this so badly to go well”, and this is the moment when I ask: But did you pray?
We try so hard, but we forget to set the intention for it to be easy. We forget to invite spirit for support. In short, we forget to pray.
As my connection to spirit has deepened over time, prayer has become a more constant state of asking and receiving. Prayer is the antidote to the flooding of busy thoughts in the morning. It is my go-to when relationships become strained. It’s the trusting visualisation of a car park as you approach the restaurant, knowing that if the parking space is not waiting for you, you must need to take the walk. When I don’t know what to do, I pray.
If we entirely forget to be prayerful, we become very narrow in our understanding of the forces at play in our life. We perceive our Self to be the general manager of the universe. We see success in our life as being singularly dependent on luck and hard work. If we abide by this ideology for long enough, eventually the world becomes a heavy machine that weighs on us as we try to turn the cogs and avoid breakdowns. We see this playing out as a state of constant vigilance, being on the lookout for danger and afraid of pausing for fear of the machine coming to a fatal halt.
Discovering our capacity to be prayerful allows us to un-learn this single-mindedness. We remember our capacity to be receptive. In prayer, we stop trying to be the solution to every problem, and embody the question that we find ourselves in. In our open, trusting enquiry, we invite a natural arising of answers and new ways of operating. We can surprise ourselves as Spirit starts to move us differently, like a gentle hand has entered our lives and untied knots that seemed permanently braided.
Often, it’s what we want MOST in life that we forget to pray about it. We want it so much that we can’t imagine we could be receptive to it, rather than having to make it happen of our own doing. Desires such as:
- Weight loss and self-acceptance: You’ve tried every diet and exercise plan, BUT HAVE YOU PRAYED? Have you enquired earnestly for the origins of your weight issues to be revealed? Have you prayed for the support of Spirit as you shed what is not you and find new ways of living in your body?
- Breaking habits like nail biting, compulsive snacking, social media addiction: You’ve tried all the forceful and punishing avenues like locking yourself out of your phone, painting your nails with foul tasting ointments, padlocking the fridge, BUT HAVE YOUR PRAYED for the loving support of the unseen in breaking the cycle your compulsive habits? Pray for awareness, pray for peace that curbs compulsion, pray for the capacity to nurture yourself so thoroughly that you’re not chasing any compulsive quick fixes.
- Resolving conflicts and deepening relationships: A relationship has hit a hurdle, there’s been a conflict or you just want to increase the flow and intimacy in the relationship but it feels hard. You’ve tried everything you can think of to try to get what you want, BUT HAVE YOU PRAYED? Have you sat in the question of what’s happening? Have you invited new insights about what the other person may need? Have you invited Spirit into the relationship to untangle what your humanness can’t, and for your resentment to be taken away?
The fundamental nature of what prayer represents is embodied in our breath. We breathe in and we are given everything we need to live freely and easily, we breathe out and everything we don’t need is taken from us. And so it can be for every aspect of our life. We call in what we desire and trust that we will receive it as easily as a breath in. We offer up whatever is too much for us, and we ask Spirit to unburden us, to help us to transform.
A prompt for uplifting, prayerful journaling: an interior journey to allow you to experience faith, hope and love within yourself.
Prompt: When I wake up I feel….
What would your day look like today in a total state of flow?
Write it all out. From start to finish. You wake up and how do you feel, what do you do? What do you eat? How do you speak? To whom? Describe the whole flow of your day from start to end. How do you sleep? How do you take time for yourself? How are you of service? What impact do you have in the world? How do you feel? Consider, where in your day do you find yourself easefully rooted in purpose, in power, and in pleasure?
This is a prayerful dialogue. As you write, feel your desires being alchemised into reality. Trust that life is listening and it wants to co-create this reality with you. This practice may begin to look like broader future-planning – a way of feeling into a career change, a transition into motherhood, a new stage of life, a loss or an expansion.
Script yourself as you desire to be.
Feel intimacy with Spirit as you write.