A prayer is defined as: a reverent petition made to God, while a petition asks for something, beseeches or implores. Prayers offer communion, a connection with spirit, which brings to mind the presence of something higher. Here’s an exert from the well-known Christian prayer, “The Lord’s Prayer,” which demonstrates this higher spiritual connection to a well-known being,
“Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done in Earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses….”
Yet, why demand our daily bread? If God is omniscient or all knowing, then He is already aware of what each person needs for sustenance. This prayer goes on to ask forgiveness for our trespasses, or sins. It recognizes that we may have behaved in a less-than-divine manner. By turning to God, coming into His holy presence, we may sense peace and ease. Yet, ultimately, we’re the ones who take responsibility for change. Perhaps the point of the prayer is as a vehicle to come into divine presence, offering a sense of communion with God.
This theme is echoed in a Jewish prayer:
“Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy holy spirit from me.”
Such prayers imagine a distant, unknowable God, perhaps judgmental, one that must be pleased and worshipped. They superimpose a view of God that is not accurate, but is a starting point for communion with spirit. As a person comes closer to source, he realizes that there’s no need to demand anything of God. A heart filled with thanksgiving understands that all is well, and that God surely knows what He is doing. We’re in good hands, always.
Here’s a Muslim prayer:
“We have awoken, and all of creation has awoken, for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds.
Allah, I ask You for the best the day has to offer: victory, support, light, blessings and guidance;
and I seek refuge in You from the evil in it, and the evil to come after it.”
Once more, there’s a sense of communion with what is higher, a touching into the divine, with humility and noble aspirations.
Finally, this Buddhist prayer (different words, yet we see a fine, giving spirit):
“May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wildernesses—the children, the aged, the unprotected—be guarded by beneficent celestials,and may they quickly attain Buddhahood.” It is less about the language used or the name given to what is higher, it is the spirit and intent that is important. Spirit may be approached from many points on the compass, so the first steps vary considerably. No need to judge in the matter. Coming into alignment or attunement with the Creator, a person may experience a new sense of perspective and begin to see with God’s eyes.
Some prayers are impromptu requests for special dispensation for oneself, for a relative or for a cause. Sometimes petitioners seek to give back to God, making promises of one sort or another if God will only come through for them. At one time in history it was common to make sacrifices to the supernatural, burnt offerings, and so on, even human sacrifice at times. But God does not want nor need anything from us, other than to reveal Him though our living. From that pure radiation, incense arises to Him and a cycle is complete. That is enough.
We provide an earthly focus for divine action and communion. The world would be less without any of us. Each person brings something unique. What comes to our hands for creative use is for His glory. We proclaim our divine birthright in each moment as part of the cosmic whole. The world and all in it are holy and sacred. So we are the answers to God’s prayer. We are the means by which He acts on Earth. Let the New Earth emerge from the dust of the old, that Divine Man and Woman may walk the Earth, awake and aware, in communion with God.
by Larry Krantz
image: Image Stock: Creative Commons (BY-ND-SA)