Prayer means so many different things to different people. When I say, "I'll pray for you," what I really mean is, "I'll think about you with peace and send some kind of healing light your way, knowing that the universe will conspire together to guide you on the perfect path for you." But it's easier just to say, "Yeah, I'll pray for you."
Back when I was a Christian, if I said, "I'll pray for you," what I usually meant was, "I'll silently judge you for not being the way I think you should be, and ask my equally-judgemental God to fix and/or punish you until you submit to his guilt and change your ways."
(I'm not saying that is what all Christians mean by prayer, it's just what I meant at that time in my life.)
Eshe reminded me that one of our teachers at Tai Sophia says that prayer is simply turning your attention towards someone in a positive light. But prayer can also be a petition, and that's where things get tricky.
This took me all the way back to being in elementary school. I remember asking my mom one night, "How do I know what to pray for?"
"What do you mean?" she asked. "Pray for the things that are on your heart, and God will hear you."
"But isn't God much more powerful than me?"
"Yes," she answered.
"So, isn't God going to do whatever God is going to do anyway, whether or not I pray for it to happen? Like, hasn't He already figured out how he wants things to go? So how are my prayers making a difference?"
I don't remember how the conclusion to that conversation went, but as I was re-telling it to Eshe, it hit me. My prayers make a difference for ME, not "God." I AM THE ONE CHANGED BY PRAYER! Prayer changes me and my response to a situation, not the other way around.
Eshe shouted, "Yes!" and jumped in the air. Then she told me that Ghandi said something like "The only true thing to pray is that God's will be done." And I remembered that that's all Muslims pray for - God's will to be done. They are always saying, "Inshallah," which means "If it is the will of Allah."
So if God's will is going to be done regardless, and the Tao is going to continue to flow where it will flow, and the universe will continue exploding and creating in whatever ways its going to explode and create, then what is left for us to do?
ALIGN WITH IT.
We can "pray" that we will recognize the will of God, or the flow of the Tao, and align ourselves with it. We can even pray with no words. We can just hold someone in our minds and love them. I can never go wrong with love, and that person will be no worse off because I took a few moments to love them with intention.
As a result of this conversation, I plan to re-introduce prayer into my life. I'm going to play around with different ways of praying, and see what happens!
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