Prayer is such a loaded concept for so many people. It is steeped in preconceived notions and some of our oldest or most traditional thoughts. However, I think we can explore it more deeply whether we have a healthy active prayer life or if prayer is a concept we struggle with. We can all do with shining some light on and maybe sparkling up our prayerful practice. Let’s get back to the basics of prayer.
What are your thoughts about prayer?
Many of us learned to pray as children. Perhaps the way we pray serves us well or perhaps it needs to grow with us.
Where did you learn to pray?
Where you taught?
What does your faith say about prayer?
How did your ancestors pray?
Are there any other ways of prayer in the world that you are drawn to?
What do you feel about them?
You can answer these questions in your head or grab your journal or some paper and a nice sharp pencil and take the time to explore these more fully and maybe create some deeper soul prayers of your own.
Something to think about:
What is the wildest way you have ever prayed?
When have you prayed your hardest?
Felt the most connection?
What way would you never ever pray?
What is the silliest place you have ever prayed?
Are you embarrassed to pray?
Is it ‘cool’ or ‘uncool’ for you and your circle?
Explore these answers further, these are our boundaries, our comfort zones, we can decide to stay within them or we can choose to gently nudge and stretch them into break-wide-open-freedom-infinity.
We have such stuck ideas of prayer; say the word ‘prayer’ and many people imagine being on bended knee, hands together before our hearts, eyes uplifted to heaven. This is a lovely way to pray but it is far from the only way and far from the oldest.
The Celts would not have recognised this form of prayer at all. They prayed outside! They threw their prayers into the rivers along with their offerings of jewellery or other precious items.To them prayer was making a wish, intention, request, thanks or praise and tying it to a tree by a sacred well or stream. They buried their prayers in the earth and danced them into being. Their temples were the sacred Groves, natural tree circles in the woods. Some of the oldest sacred trees still exist. Yews can live up to 1000 years and they were the sacred trees of the Celts. Some still live now.
I know all the stuff about Yew/Voldemort’s wand in Harry Potter; Yews are not evil, they are powerful. Power can be dangerous and they are steeped in magic and mystery. A Harry Potter reference, I know, but I went to the Harry Potter studio tour yesterday so more are coming. Consider yourselves fairly warned.
These Groves were where the Druids worshipped formally. We can see that there are more ways to pray and traditions about prayer than there are stars.
What is prayer for? What counts as prayer? Explore your feelings and we will explore this more here very soon. Where do we find the time to pray? Is prayer only spending hours on our knees reciting? Can we spend this time if we want to? Will you take time out of your life to connect to your Creator? How about 10 minutes in the morning and evening? Will you join me? You can spend more but not less, if 10 minutes is not possible for you for some reason then lets work around it. If you are stretched so busy you don’t think you can do this, perhaps this is something you need in your life even more than most. What will you give up for it? 20 minutes of TV? Two cups of coffee?
So we are taking some time to pray, we are exploring our current beliefs about prayer and expanding them to vitalise and diversify our prayers. So how do we spice up our altar time?
Ways to Pray:
Shout it from a mountain or in the woods
Hold a pebble or shell and fill it with your prayer, throw it into a river or the sea.
See the Divine in the beauty of the landscape and cast your prayer into it.
Draw it in the sand and watch the sea take it away wave by wave into God and being
Scrawl it across the biggest canvas you can afford in bright paint
Whisper it to your friend as you hug
Walk it, take a sacred walk and pray with each step
Breathe it, sent your intention for a prayer with every breathe
Pilgrimage, visit a sacred place or a place sacred to you, make your journey joyful, spiritual and an offering, leave your prayer there
Grow it, plant your prayer with flowers and watch it grow into physical beauty
Make a Turas, a spiralling prayer, spiral around and move your prayer into being, if you can’t walk, draw a spiral on paper and trace the spiral with your fingers, eyes or mind
Spend your day with your God – whatever happens, news, hopes, worries, pray on it
Translate it, how did your grandparents pray, your ancestors? Translate it into your traditional language and enjoy the delicious words to carry your prayers home
Turn scripture into prayer
Pray with a friend
Write it on your wall
Pray with music – the Divine might enjoy show tunes
Pray in silence and connect to the sacred, honour and respect it within and without
Add your own to this list
This article was originally published on BasicMissions.com, if you would like to read more of my writings on faith head here.