“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
Last month, I talked about appreciating life’s dandelion moments: tasks and actions that are all the richer when you’re fully present. I had a number of these lately, driving from Ontario to Vancouver Island, a trip I’d made the other way only a year previous. Whether it was the sheer expanse of sky in the prairie provinces or the prairie dog antics, or that moment when our car rolled off the ferry and touched the soil of the island and I felt an overwhelming sense of home, there were countless opportunities to be present and mindful, and I’m sure I could have found more if I tried.
Now I’m settling into my new home, a task that’s fun, but also slightly exhausting. I’m also figuring out how to incorporate aspects of my life into the one I envision: no small feat, as many twenty-somethings know! As this brings not only physical but emotional challenges, I’ve found myself looking for guidance not only with Pinterest but through prayer. This has taken two forms for me: silent appeals to the Goddess figure I’ve grown rather attached to, and stream of consciousness writing (inspired by Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages).
Prayer, however you choose to do it, is calming. The more I research, the more ways I find there are to do it: even among those who do a more traditional religious prayer, some do it out loud and others silently. Others find solace in writing, meditation, being in nature–anything that puts them in touch with the divine. As in other areas of our lives, it’s so important to be genuine. Anything less and the effect is lessened.
In researching for this article, I discovered that those of the Jewish faith have different terms for the act of prayer. The one that especially speaks to me is tefliah, the Hebrew word for prayer. It emphasizes looking deep inside yourself as well as forging a bond between you and the entity to which you pray. It’s worth remembering that it’s not just about what you’re asking for but what you give, what you create through that prayer. You’re opening yourself up to possibilities, to grace, to the world. It’s not just about visiting hospital chapels when a loved one is in need; it’s about being open to and grateful for the good things, too; for the dandelion moments.
In the end, my favourite quote came from this article, about how prayers can even consist of Tweets and Facebook status updates in the face of tragedy and unrest: “However small our gestures are – online and off – if our motives are pure, they are prayers.” Even if you are not religious, taking a moment to speak from your heart, whether it’s heard by others or solely by you and your chosen recipient, is a powerful thing to send into the world. What better way to both demonstrate and relinquish control over your everyday life?
Whatever your feelings are, whatever your spiritual leanings, today, let us pray. Perhaps it will be a whispered word for safe passage home when it’s late at night and the streets are sketchy; maybe it’s a thank you for the flowers someone left at your desk; or perhaps there’s no reason at all, other than to embrace that connection between you and the world. Let us pray.
“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”
(The Prophet, Khalil Gibran)