Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Way We Pray

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved
There are many ways of praying: formal prayers, conversations with the Divine One (think Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof), and the sweet mantra of the rosary to name a few.
In this post, I want to start a conversation about prayer—how you do it and how it works for you. I’ll start by sharing what works for my friends and me.
I belong to several spiritual circles. One is a small--five women who have been gathering monthly for over a decade to share what’s going on in our lives and to support each other’s inner growth. It’s an amazing gift we’ve given to ourselves to make this time for deep and sustaining, spiritually-centered friendship. Spirit is the unseen member of our group, along with another member who is “late.” I love this beautiful expression from Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels set in Botswana. To be “late” still honors the full imprint of a person’s energy and simply acknowledges they are in a different dimension. We have pictures of each member, and when one is absent—or in case of the one who’s late—we put her picture by her place at the table. The connection we feel from that simple act is palpable.
We always say grace (one of my favorite forms of prayer) and we often do a spiritual activity such as watching a metaphysically oriented film or TED talk. But we always—no matter how late we’re running or how tired we are—end in prayer.
I suspect I started it, being Catholic to the core in my spiritual root structure, but our method is lighting candles. We have a plate of tea lights and our custom is to say the name of someone for whom we want to pray, share the reason—what’s going on with that person. Then we repeat the person’s name three times while his or her candle is being lit on the plate.
Example: My husband was recently hospitalized. So I might say, “I want to pray for Tim’s health and complete recovery from his latest challenges.” Then we’d all say, together: “Tim, Tim, Tim.”
These prayers crescendo as the 15-30  minutes pass for us to complete the process. We usually go from the specific (people) to the general (countries, issues or causes). We often pray for President Obama, other political leaders, world peace, or the people involved in the latest tragedy in the news. We seem to pray endlessly for the USA and California, which have needed our help a lot over the past few years. I think my perennial favorite is "Peace on Earth." We even do this prayer ritual in e-mails when a need comes up between meetings. We'll write, Joyce x 3! (Or whoever needs the prayer.) We pray for good outcomes to projects and concerns, and to nugget our visions into a few words we can repeat three times is a bit of a craft. The wording is often a group process till we're all comfortable that the intention "sounds right."
When there are no more prayer requests left at our gathering, we each grab a crystal to ground and focus our energy while we envision the prayers swirling from the center of the table and plate full of candles—spiraling upward toward the heavens, carrying these desires of our hearts. At some point, one of us tunes into when the energy has peaked. (We take turns) That woman says, “Release!” That’s when we envision the building prayer energy having lift-off, while lifting our crystals upward to help release them. As our prayers ascend, we say a special prayer written by one of our members that speaks to the safe landing of our good intentions, where and how they are needed most.
What’s wonderful about this method is the opportunity for “instant replay.” Whenever I think of one of the people in our spiritual sisterhood or someone dear to her, I can say the individual’s name, such as “Susan, Susan, Susan” at any time that person needing prayer comes to mind again. I get a sense of syncing with our original candle lighting and all the energy behind the first group prayer.
Many of our prayed-for people make miraculous recoveries from illness and strife. Others do not, because physical healing isn’t the only game in town. Somehow, I always know we help at the level of soul. There's a sense of peace and communion that comes out of this ritual. Sometimes we remember to have the wisdom to light candles of thanksgiving, not just for people when “something’s wrong.” It’s a time of joining our creativity, compassion and seeing a world of best possibilities for the people in it.
“Whenever two or more are gathered” brings high potency to prayer. It magnifies joined intention and always leaves me feeling closer to my prayer circle, the human race--more whole and more full of hope.
How do you pray? I’d love to hear …
Photo Credit: © duncanandison -

This is a Prayer and Thanksgiving Month post. 

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