UNDERSTANDING PRAYER: “Say Your Prayers”
Editor’s Note: Spokane FāVS is publishing a series of columns on the subject of prayer. Prayer is a common religious concept and is used in secular, colloquial speech and circumstances. Early humans may have used a version of prayer, even before the advent of formal religious observances.
But what does prayer mean? What is it? Who does it? Can you pray if it isn’t to a Divine Being? How do you do it? Is it a solitary and/or communal activity? Why do it at all? What motivates a person to pray? What are the expectations on the part of the pray-er? Should there be some type of tangible outcome or after effects? These and other questions will be addressed over the next few weeks.
“Brush your teeth and say your prayers,” my father used to always say at bedtime when I was a child. I often pondered this, wondering what I was supposed to be praying to the Lord about and why.
When I felt like my life was running smoothly and nothing tumultuous was going on, I often steered away from prayer. Many times, I found myself not listening to the messages that our Savior knew I needed to hear.
Getting older, my father’s words took on more meaning. Naturally, I began to experience adult life and became a mother, went through heartbreak and other wonderful and raw feelings we experience as adults.
The Goal of Prayer
Prayer for some is a solitary experience. For others, group prayer seems to bring families and friends closer. There doesn’t seem to be a one size fits all when it comes to the subject matter. I think the goal is to get closer to your creator, whatever that means for you. To be in line more spiritually with one’s self brings peace and harmony into your life when everything around you is full of chaos.
Sometimes the questions we ask in prayer lead us closer to the answers without even realizing it. We’re taught to have faith and trust in the process, even when that process seems like there’s no end in sight. Instant gratification seems to be the high-ticket item that the majority of people are after these days.
Prayer helps us align our thoughts, feelings and actions. It’s a gentle suggestion to what could be and or already is. Whether we kneel at bedtime, bow our heads or take a journey into nature, we all need prayer in some form or another.
As L.M. Montgomery once said, “Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into the sky — up — up — up — into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”
The Prayer Experience
Would I be so bold as to say that prayer can even be an experience? The very questions that plague us as a species can be more closely examined when we use meditation and prayer to be more in tune to what’s around us.
It’s not a question of instant gratification when it comes to this sort of thing. Prayer is a means to seek what you already know is inside of you. We reach, triumph and struggle for the way.
I am merely a human in this world trying to figure things out as I go along, just like the rest of us. I do know for sure that prayer has helped guide my decisions, through both the dark and light seasons of my journey. My alignment is more on point when I speak to my creator and have a heart to heart.
Prayer Brings Peace
When I veer, my heart always begs the question of when I will return. Prayer brings us peace in times when our world has been rocked with uncertainty and fear. It brings communities closer when we need to lean on each other for support. It brings love and hope when it feels like there is nothing left.
For all the reasons there is to pray, there are so many to count. Whether in a mosque, temple or in nature, bringing yourself closer to clarity is a win.
So tonight I will continue to brush my teeth and say my prayers.