Livin On A Prayer

When I was a child, I thought as a child, and I prayed as a child. Every night I closed my eyes tightly and said the words my mother taught me:

"Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take."

I didn't have the faintest idea what it meant, or why I was supposed to say it every night before I went to sleep, but I did it religiously, because that's what my mother taught me to do. It never occurred to me to ask her about it; it was just an accepted part of my life.

When I was a little older, I learned a more mature prayer. I said it religiously every single Sunday in church:

"Our Father, who art in Heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

On earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our debts

As we forgive our debtors,

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the power, and the glory,

And the kingdom, forever.

Amen."

I didn't really understand what that meant, either, but I said it religiously.

I've learned a lot of prayers on my life's journey. My interest in spirituality and personal truth exposed to me prayers of all kinds, written and recited by all kinds of people. Each was sincere in it's efforts to honor God, and I've respected every prayer I've ever heard.

There was a period in my life when I stopped praying religious prayers. I was of the opinion, then, that religious prayer (defined as prayers that everybody says by rote all of the time) were meaningless. It took me a while to understand that religious prayer is a sincere expression of religious belief. When we pray in church, we are using prayer as part of the confirmation that we are part of the given group of believers we're attending church with, and that's a good thing. Being in spirit with other thinking, feeling human beings who think and feel the same way we do is one of the best parts of being alive.

As I came to appreciate the difference between religion (which is how we choose to express our spiritual truth) and spirituality (which is our spiritual truth in action) I came to appreciate the difference between religious prayer and personal communication with God. I also came to appreciate that prayer means different things to different people, and fills a different role in everyone's spiritual journey.

It was when I discovered that my world was not the whole world that I truly began to understand what prayer is and why people do it, and began doing it again myself. As I explored other religions and other cultures, I was amazed at the myriads of ways in which Man communicates with the higher power in his life. There's not a religion in the world that doesn't teach us that connecting to God - sometimes through prayer - is what God asks of us.

I've never believed that God is a stickler for doctrine. I don't think He cares how we pray, as long as we pray. I don't think that the way we say things is important to God at all. He is a part of us; He knows what we think and what we feel. Our prayers are just us choosing to share our thoughts and feelings with Him by expressing them in words. Neither our thoughts nor our feelings become real until we express them; it is in talking to God, verbally, that we create our own reality about who He is and the role He plays in our lives.

If we choose 'rote' - if the only prayers we ever pray are religious prayers in someone else's words - then we're not really sharing with God, although we are showing respect through the very act of praying. It's when we feel we know God well enough to start up a conversation that we're on the way to having the spiritual relationship with Him that He intended us to have when He gave us separate life.

The more I talked to God, the better I got to know Him, and the better I got to know Him, the more I wanted to talk to Him. I'm pleased to say that, over the years, we've gotten to know each other really well, and talk to each other all the time. The more I pray, the more confident I am that God is with me, always. Maybe that's why they call it "livin' on a prayer."

Lois Grant-Holland is a Life Path Focus Counselor offering Life Path Focus Sessions, Karmic Astrology Charts, Channeled Guidance, Intuitive Readings and Classes and Workshops to spiritual seekers on all positive paths, and is the site facilitator at The A.N.S.W.E.R. - (The Seeker's Resource Guide to Alternative, New Thought, Spiritual Growth, Wellness and Enlightenment Resources.) You can visit her website at http://www.loisgrantholland.com

In The News:

Spirituality, a mirror  Daily Pioneer
Spirituality: Give God a wink  Norwich Bulletin
Spirituality and Faith Formation  Misericordia University
Nigel Hall gets spiritual  OffBeat Magazine
Spiritual synchronization - CSMonitor.com  The Christian Science Monitor
A culture of spirituality  The New Indian Express

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