There are a million kinds of prayers.
There are foxhole prayers, “Please get me out of this, don’t let me die.”
There are prayers for others, “Please heal them, make them better, don’t let him die.”
Prayers that bargain, “I swear if you help me now, I’ll never drink again.”
Prayers that supplicate, “Please make me an instrument…..”
Prayers that celebrate, “Thank you for the blessings….”
Since the dawn of time, man has been looking up, and out, and calling upon whatever exists in the stars, the sky – above us – that might be having an effect on us down here, below.
Reaching out to that “thing” that might possibly be in control. Of us. Back then it might have been meteor storms, or lightening, or the phases of the moon.
Today – we are in control of our weather, our environment. But there are aspects of our lives over which we have not control.
Random acts of Life.
Cancer. Mental Illness. Accidents. Disease. Addiction. Betrayal. Divorce. Terrorism. Death.
It is then that some of us turn to prayer.
For some of us – this is a way to connect back to the most sacred part of our selves – in order to touch the most sacred part of our consciousness.
I happen to love prayer. I am not a religious person, not by a long shot. But I am a spiritual person, and prayer has always resonated with me as a way to connect to that “something“.
When I was young I used to speak to someone upstairs. That’s how I thought of God back then. I wasn’t sure what God was, and wasn’t sure how to pray, but knew that prayer was a powerful practice.
Years later – after studying, meditating, engaging in a spiritual practice – prayer has become the most fundamental part of my being and my day.
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
For Buddhists, there is no differentiation between “us” and the deities. “God” is not out there – he/she is within us. The Higher Power is not outside, but inside.
From the Buddhist standpoint, prayer, like Mindfulness Meditation, is energy. It creates energy, – it gives out energy – and it receives energy.
Over the years I have come to understand that I am not separate from “God” or whatever I choose to call my Higher Power. That source is within me.
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
If meditation is food for our minds, then prayer is food for our soul.
But what if we are Agnostic or Atheist? Here is a beautiful quote from Ann of Green Gables:
“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”
My most profound prayer was the night I admitted to being an alcoholic and needing help. I was literally clinging to the grass beneath me, my soul breaking open during a moment of clarity.
Sitting on my haunches, my forehead on the ground, the smell of the earth filling my nostrils, I felt the words formulating in my mind and burst through my lips, now smeared with tears, “Oh, God, please help me, please.”
This wasn’t a foxhole prayer. This was the moment of opening myself up to the truth of who I was, and what I was. In between the tears and the sobs, I heard a still voice speak to me. I felt an ethereal embrace and began to relax into it. What happened next is another story for another day – but from that day on, I have known that prayer works.
For me – my experience – prayer is the touching within that is the holiest and most sacred of energies. I began to read many kinds of prayers, and memorized some others. I began to write my own prayers.
Prayer has since been the cornerstone of my recovery, but also the foundation of my daily existence. Prayer got me through Cancer. Prayer got me through a hurricane in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Prayer helped me get through almost losing my husband to an illness. Prayer helped to center me as I was studying for exams, for licenses. Prayer got me through the worst days of my life – and prayer helped me to celebrate the happiest days I have ever known.
It’s a big topic – prayer. Not one I can do justice to here in a blog – or an article – it’s book sized. And many have written beautiful books on the subject.
But this I know: Prayers have been my lifeline to sanity. They have helped me to center, to become quiet inside – to be still – and listen. Really listen. Which is when the quiet voice of that “something” arises, and prayers form on my lips.
I leave you with this prayer….
May we support each other in what we do here,
May we serve each other in our practice,
May our practice inform our daily lives,
And in our daily lives, may we bring grace and mercy to those we meet.
Kimberley L. Berlin, LCSW, CSAC, SAP is an Integrated Addiction Therapist in private practice in Leesburg, Virginia. She is the owner and operator of Compassionate Beginnings, LLC. Kimberley is currently working on the manuscript “Rising Recovery©.”