I don’t know about you, but for nearly my entire life, whenever I found myself praying, it was always when I was in need of something. Maybe it was for a job I was hoping to get or for a family member who was sick. I would pray for all things…big and small, as if praying was the avenue in which God decided who got what. I had ideas that if you prayed more or for longer, than somehow those prayers would be answered. This philosophy treads a little close to superstition. If God is counting how many prayers I make and for how long, what else is He counting on? Will it please Him if I burn candles, light incense or sit on my head upside down? The idea that we are rewarded for our spiritual practice is not only absurd but also a little bit pitiful. Pleading, bartering and demanding things of God is not prayer but the ego feeling out of control. The ego thinks that God is rational like itself, only 1000 times more. The ego wishes to relate to the mind of God…as if God had a mind. This antiquated idea of God as human – but only greater, needs to be relinquished. We have all heard that we are made in the likeness of God. And as fools, we believed that God looked and acted just like us. We are loving, but God is all loving. We are vengeful, but God is all vengeful. How egotistical of us to assume that the likeness of God that we all are – or have the potential to be- has anything to do with our physical form? I am beginning to understand that the mind and the ego cannot know God because God is a mystical experience that is saved for the soul.
So back to praying. If we cannot beg, plead and barter with God through our prayers, what good are they? What happens when two people, praying to the same God (the only God) are praying for two different outcomes? Surely, one will be disappointed. Is this because one person did not pray enough? Long enough? Light the right candles? Burn the sweetest incense? No. God does not reward or punish for our spiritual practice. The purpose of prayer, as I see it, is to connect with God, ask for guidance, listen and follow that guidance and to be assisted through the chaos that most likely brought us to pray in the first place. Not to remove the chaos, but to be able to endure it. Trust me, when your world gets turned upside down through any kind of loss, pain or suffering, no human can be responsible for such a shift in your life. Chaos is God re-ordering your life. Chaos is divinity in action. Chaos is life rebirthing itself. Destruction is necessary for creation to start fresh.
Now when I pray, I think it is absurd to ask for anything at all. God knows exactly what I need. And I always get exactly that…what I need and not necessary want. Instead, I pray to be illuminated in the areas of my life that I cannot see clearly. Places where I think I have been abandoned or where I have lost my gratitude. I pray to hold my centre. I pray to hold my centre when I am spinning and chaos is all around. In those moments, never am I closer with God.