There was a point in my life while growing up in a very strict Christian household that I took prayer for granted. It seemed that my parents were immobilized by some odd fear that if they didn't pray before they ate, got into the car, or settled in for the night before sleep something horrible would happen and there would be consequences.
I tolerated them and their presumably bizarre prayer hobby until I left home. Freed from the bonds of "Have you said your prayers?" on a daily basis and the accompanying guilt that went along with it; the prayer habit was shoved under the proverbial carpet in my mind until one day I was in a crisis and suddenly I needed to talk to God. Not some remarkable light in the universe called "The Source" or a hierarchy of angelic entities sitting with some "creator" model of The Great Spirit, no -- I needed the God that I'd grown up with and the God that my parents seemed to be quite intimate and friendly with.
As I struggled with the uncomfortable sensation of beginning my prayer, I had a marvelous epiphany that has changed my life and the lives of thousands. I learned in an instant that regardless of who we are or what we've done, when we pray we are absolutely having a conversation with God. Plain and simple. Humanizing deity is foolish at best, however for the sake of this analogy, imagine the joy in the heart of a parent when a long lost child connects saying, "Hey, I know I've been gone, but I need you."
When I had my first real conversation with God I hadn't felt loved, needed or cherished by anyone for quite awhile. I had emptiness around me and inside of me that no amount of meditation, stillness, or breath-work would change. Finally surrendering to what my heart wanted me to say vs. what my head dictated was reasonable led me to a few new understandings.
There is a difference between a mantra and prayer.
Mantras or "mantrams" as they are called in India are a form of meditation. They are typically used to assist in meditation as well as to form the foundation of a group meditative process such as when monks chant. There are specific mantras used to open chakra centers in your body as well as mantras for healing and inspiration. Repeating a sound that is regarded as sacred, such as "Om" will promote well being in the center of your soul and allow yourself to become open to a creative moment with God.
Popular does not always mean appropriate.
Repeating a beloved prayer is wonderful. There are dozens of reasons to quote The Lord's Prayer* even if you're not a bible toting Christian, and The Serenity Prayer is available to all whether you're in recovery or not. For Buddhists there are the Sutta's and even Native Americans have specific prose. What should be kept in mind is that these prayers are simply guides. There is no right way or wrong way to pray.
When you begin to speak with your heart, when you are able to define what you are feeling to a presence outside of your body and mind, it is in those moments you draw closer to God. It is in those moments your soul connects with a source greater than words and you form a bridge to that place where miracles happen.
Reserving time for prayer.
When circumstances arrive in our lives that cause us stress, we all need to have developed the habit of spending time in meditation. It's also extraordinarily important to have an ongoing conversation with God. Gandhi said, "Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement, properly understood and applied it is the most potent instrument of action."
As the Co-founder of the worldwide prayer group "White Light Express" I have experienced the power of focused intention and the energy behind prayer in a somewhat formal setting that I have facilitated for over ten years. I've witnessed miracles, so I urge everyone to remain faithful in your moments alone with God in prayer. Will you experience a miracle each time you ask for one? Statistically, probably not. However, in conclusion, I have faith enough for us both. Keep praying, it can't hurt!
As a side note, please join us for an incredible weekend in Port Townsend, WA this August 16, 17 & 18, 2013 for the second annual White Light Express Conference & Gathering.
The intensely authentic mystic healer Sonja Grace is featured all day on Saturday with her cutting edge presentation "The Future You" followed by a special guest appearance from the host of Coast To Coast AM and Gaiam TV interviewer George Noory.
Sunday you've got a choice of workshops with Peter Messerschmidt who is presenting "The Highly Sensitive Man" or Sarah Nash who will help you find closure and relief from emotional pain with a program from her ground breaking series "Cosmic Triage™".
Friday night is open to the public with a beautiful Sound Sanctuary offered by the ineffable Shannon Ryan.
Please follow the links for more information about each presenter and sign up for the Conference HERE.