There is no right or wrong way to pray. Prayer is unique and idiosyncratic because prayer is predicated on our very human, one-to-one relationship with the divine. And, as we all well know, relationships may have similar patterns but they are forever individual.
Prayer is certainly a common phenomenon. From the beginning of time, humankind has sought to make and maintain connection with the divine. At a young age, children are taught prayers. We pray formally in houses, temples, and churches of worship. We pray informally in our conversations with God. Prayer can be part of daily devotional acts, a spiritual discipline, a weekly routine, intermittent ritual as well as a spontaneous reaction to wonder or horror. Prayer can also be reserved for those “foxhole” moments when nothing else seems to work.
Once upon time long ago, very early in my private practice career, I found myself beseeching the Gods for help. I was working with a new client. I had obtained all of the initial history and assessment information. I had asked every question I could think of, and if you know me, you know I can be a regular quiz-master and ask many, many questions.
I found myself stymied. I couldn’t think of another question. I asked for clarification and amplification, but this new, and still rather shy, client was no longer forthcoming. Talk therapy without the talk? Yikes! I was in trouble.
So, I did what I normally do when I am in a jam, I started to pray. “Please God, help me with this client. I don’t what else to ask or what to do. Please, please, please help me now,” I begged. No guidance was forthcoming; no insight was lobbed into my cerebellum. I was still blank and stalling for some inroad into my new client’s psyche.
I was asking my new client repetitive questions from another angle. Panic was just beneath the surface of my supposedly calm and professional exterior. I prayed harder and faster. Here I was, a brand new therapist in private practice without the safety net of the clinic, and I had already hit a wall. I was beginning to sweat. And I noticed that my right arm was beginning to hurt for no real reason.
I kept praying, and my right arm kept aching. On and on this prayer-ache-dismiss-the-ache cycle went until I finally understood. I, then, said to my client that I had a strange question for her. “Was there anything about her right arm?” As the Gods well knew, there was certainly something about her right arm. That question opened up Pandora’s Box and, happily, a good run of therapy and resolution followed.
Over the years, I have heard — and come to believe — that our every prayer is heard and that our every prayer is answered, but not necessarily in the manner we envision. Often, the responses to our prayers are for the highest good and serve the Big Picture.
The Gods had answered my prayers, but not in the manner I expected or anticipated. I had placed myself conceptually in a small, tight box. My answer would come, I thought, as a new idea piped directly into my brain waves, instead the Gods gave me a response in my body. The new sentient-based question opened the door for my client, and the manner in which I was given the information opened the door for me into a whole new way of working with my clients. Clearly, the Gods knew best.
Being human, we can forget the power of prayer. The results are often invisible and ineffable. With that in mind, here is my very favorite prayer story courtesy of higher consciousness teacher, Caroline Myss and transmitted via my memory:
One weekday morning in Chicago, there is a very serious car accident on one of the major highways. The other drivers and witnesses to this accident all know this will take a very long time to clear. This was bad accident that will require many rescue vehicles.
The trauma of the car accident forces the woman injured to leave her body, and she floats above her mangled car. She could hear the disgruntled words of the nearby drivers forced to a stop behind the accident. The injured woman hears comments like, “Geez, how long will this take?” and “Damn it, I will be late for work.” Everyone around her appears to be angry, frustrated and furious at this unexpected delay to their morning commute.
Well, almost everyone …. The out-of-body woman notices all of this light radiating from the fifth car behind her accident. In her body-less state, the woman travels to the fifth car and hears the woman driver of that car praying for whoever was hurt in the accident. The injured woman is profoundly touched and maneuvers to see the license plate number of this car with the praying woman. Then, abruptly, the injured woman is pulled back into her body and taken by ambulance to the hospital. (The injured woman had experienced a near death experience (NDE), but it was not her time to die.)
The injured woman endures surgeries and rehabilitation. It takes her a good year to get back on her feet. And however it is possible, the once-injured woman, via the license plate number, procures the name and address of the woman who prayed for her.
The recovered woman goes to the florist and buys a huge bouquet of flowers. She goes to the home of the woman who prayed for her and knocks on the door. When the praying woman answers the door, the once-injured woman hands her the flowers and says, “Thanks for your prayers.”
Every time I remember this story, I well up with tears. Every time, I hear an ambulance or witness an accident, I say a prayer.
Prayer not only connects us with the divine; prayer connects us with one another’s soul. Prayer is a fast way to communicate; it’s a form of high-level energy. Prayer illuminates the oneness of us all. Prayer is a light path on the grid of the matrix.
Have you considered a prayer today?