Prayers are, as I may have mentioned before, not exactly my forte. I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of praying for something specific, like getting a job, clear skies, or some other particular outcome. It seems to me like prayer is not supposed to be about asking God for something specific to happen or not happen. That sounds simple enough, until you realize… What exactly do you pray for?
For instance, my personal qualms at the moment stem from my dad’s health. As much as I would love for my dad to not be going through what he is, and as much as I don’t want his life to be shortened, I can’t bring myself to pray for those things. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t see God as a master planner who can change the course of events at will. And, as counter-religious as it may sound, I don’t think of God as a ‘he’ who ‘answers prayers.’ Results-oriented prayer doesn’t seem too logical if you don’t think the force you’re praying to has direct control over results. So who am I asking? And what do I really expect to get from my asking?
Well, the best way I can explain it, I think, is in terms of the Spirit. I pray to the spirit, or the force, or God, that exists in and around all of us. So, in a way, when I’m at my most prayerful, I’m really asking myself for help–my innermost, intuitive, inherently natural and good self. When I ask for peace, I somehow know that I already have that peace within me. When I ask for love, I am tapping into the deep capacity I have for love as a spiritual being. And when I pray for other people… I suppose most of all I am hoping that they will be able to find the peace and love inside themselves that will make them happier and healthier individuals.
I believe prayer is really about being a better person and cultivating peace and love. That may sound hokey. But I do believe that energy is a powerful force and that the Spirit (or God) thrives on positive energy. And since I want to feed the good of the world and the good in me, I pray.
I don’t know what most people do. I am actually very curious about it, since most people don’t say their most personal prayers out loud. Plus, most people at the monastery have been praying their whole lives. It’s kind of assumed that everyone already does it. Admittedly, I don’t know how much my prayer style has in common with the Sisters’. Maybe soon I’ll pluck up the nerve to ask.