Prayer as a sacred practice
Prayer is part of our human experience, and has been from the most ancient times. Before we knew of prayer as such, it was referred to as words like communion in the oldest records available of Christian and Gnostic traditions, and described as the ability to speak with the unseen forces of the universe. I think we all pray in some form or another. Regardless of whether we call ourselves religious, spiritual or neither, we utter prayers of varying levels as we go about our days, from the superficial to the deeply felt.
Author Gregg Braden, in his book Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer, writes that modern prayer researchers have identified four broad categories and that when we pray, we use one mode or a combination of modes. They are:
1. Informal or colloquial prayers - these are our casual everyday prayers, like, “Dear God, please let me get a parking space at the office as I’m really late and will be in so much trouble with my boss!”
2. Petitionary prayers - these are requests to God (or other source) such as, “Dear God, please let me be healed of all illness and dis-ease so that I may take care of my family.”
3. Ritualistic prayers - these are prayers performed at a certain time of the day of a certain time of the year, like bedtimes prayers or prayers on a specific holiday.
4. Meditative prayers - many spiritual teachers differentiate prayer and meditation as prayer when we are speaking to God, and meditation as when we are listening. In any case, during meditation we are often aware of a sacred presence, no matter what we call it.
These are helpful definitions for helping to articulate prayer as a form of sacred practice. Braden believes though that there is another mode of prayer, the fifth “lost mode”, which is a prayer based solely on feeling.
“Rather than the sense of helplessness that often leads us to ask for assistance from a higher power, feeling-based prayer acknowledges our ability to communicate with the intelligent force that 95 percent of us believe in, and participate in the outcome. Without any words, without our hands held in a certain position or any outward physical expression, this mode of prayer simply invites us to feel a clear and powerful feeling as if our prayers have already been answered.
Through this intangible “language,” we participate in the healing of our bodies, the abundance that comes to our friends and families, and the peace between nations.We are always feeling in each moment of every day of our lives. While we may not always be aware of just what we’re feeling, we are feeling nonetheless. If feeling is the prayer and we’re always feeling, then that means we’re always in a state of prayer. Each moment is a prayer. Life is a prayer.”
No matter how you pray or who you pray to, the sense of sacredness we can feel, as we connect to something greater than us, can be comforting and supportive in all the times of our lives. It is a practice worth cultivating.
My prayers are a form of connection to all that is sacred.
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Photo Credit : Keem Ibarra