Those of us raised in Western culture, for the most part, grew up associating prayer with religion and would take part in this holy ritual when in a church, temple or a sanctuary. Or, we might have practiced an evening prayer before a meal or at bedtime as a way of giving thanks. Usually, our prayers or blessings involved thanking our God for bestowing goodness upon our life or asking for greater goodness.
This practice may have helped many of us to feel a greater sense of peace, security and gratitude in navigating throughout each day, and for some, it may have simply felt like going through the motions with little or no sense of connectivity.
What if prayer were seen and experienced as a way of being, rather than as something that we do? Being prayerful is a verb, always in motion, always activated in our awareness. Similar to love, to pray is to honor and bless the Divine presence and its perfect orchestration throughout our life experience. The act of being prayerful allows us to see and feel the sacred throughout each passing moment.
Imagine witnessing a child’s birth. As the baby takes their first breath and enters into this world, there is an undeniable sense of wonder, joy and honor present. Or, picture yourself on the peak of a majestic snow-capped mountain with white billowing clouds as a bald eagle soars directly above you and gracefully rides the currents in a perfect flowing pattern. In this moment, you cannot help feeling a profound sense of awe and interconnection with life.
These are examples of feeling prayerful. Now, imagine waking up each morning and experiencing each day with these same feelings being ignited within. Why not? After all, it is a miracle that we are all here living and functioning in these amazing, complex bodies. It is a blessing that we have the perfect mixture of air to breathe and the ability to give thanks for the smallest, most precious things around us. In being prayerful, we see perfection in the people and things around us. Not in a complacent way, but from a purview of understanding the greater picture and knowing that we always have a choice to contribute to a greater good through our actions, thoughts or way of being.
When we are deeply prayerful, we live in a state of compassion and recognize that everyone, at their core desires to fully give and receive love. From this state, we are able to fully open our hearts and forgive others for their blindness. As we cultivate a richer, moment-to-moment state of prayerfulness, every thought, feeling and activity is heightened in flavor and we experience a truer sense of oneness, purpose and vision. We see that we are part of this rich, interconnected web and all of life is truly a blessing.
Prayer is a verb…..feel it now.
(c) Photography by Carl Studna