This question is more important than most think. The answer will color all you experience. Those who answer that they do not pray are mistaken, for they do not realize what prayer is and the extent and power of it in their lives.
Classically, prayer is, in essence, an act of communication. One communicates one’s desires to, presumably, some source-deity who has power over his life or power to help him. Prayer is also an act of communion with the Source for expression of gratitude and reverence, deemed necessary or recommended by the Source, and for the reception of guidance or other sorts of upliftment and inspiration.
Continuing to define prayer by associated meanings, the word “communicate” means to connect, to join, in effect to become one. In prayer there is always a desire to be aligned with the Source to which we pray. To align with one’s deity is deemed ultimately desirable and eventually if not immediately beneficial. In this age of spiritual renewal we are constantly working to align and attune ourselves with an ideal or an energy or some sort of Great Spirit that will bless our lives, and which many consider to be our True Self. Yet without realizing the real nature and extent of the act of prayer many are sabotaging just that goal.
In the many books and workshops available on spiritual practices and techniques, prayer is one that is often highly recommended. There are many related practices that are defined as forms of prayer, such as dancing, drumming, singing, artworks, rituals, even writing a prayer on a piece of paper or cloth and hanging it in the breeze. There is also a practice described involving what is called “constant prayer”, which sounds like quite a challenge considering the requirements of everyday life. Yet it is precisely this form of prayer that is the subject of this article. Surprise, surprise: whether you realize it or not, you are always in constant prayer!
As I said above, prayer is essentially communication, and in this soup of consciousness we live in, our every thought communicates to everyone and everything around us. It communicates our beliefs and desires and fears and loves and hates. Nothing is private and nothing is hidden. It is widely accepted in our age of renewal that the state of your consciousness affects every element of your life. Yet more to my point is the fact that just whom we are trying to communicate our desires to, consciously or unconsciously, moment by moment, is not fully realized.
What I am getting at is the fact that whenever you try to please someone, and are for some ego-based reason not being true to yourself, you are literally praying to them, attuning to them, and trying to become like them in order to please them and get their blessing – or at least be left in relative peace. The moment to moment content of our minds and hearts, and the acts that result, are this prayer. It never ends. What we are is a constant song of prayer, alignment and attunement to someone, and usually it is to someone who can neither hear nor help.
Why do people neglect this true Source within? Because of the persisting idea of there being powers outside of them. One has to decide that false is false and that there is no separation: that all power is united within, and all that appears around one is an extension of one’s being. We have held back out of fear. The idea of guilt and self-denial is founded on this fear, and the source of fear is the idea of separation, of some other power being able to affect us in a way we don’t prefer. Yet if you decide your consciousness is the source and generator of your existence, and that your aligned consciousness is the Divine source, you will know you have all the power that can ever affect your experience.
Involved in the confusion are the illogic and conflicts of our egos, all based on the idea of separation. If attunement means oneness with the Source we can say that prayer is an act of becoming one. Then why do we pray to those we steadfastly hold separate from us? We pray for approval, for validation, for permission, for forgiveness – all from outside “sources” that have no real power over us or to help. Prayer must recognize oneness as a fact, for to perceive separation is to create it, and power to create is always projected in the idea of separation. Teachings such as “Seek ye the kingdom of Heaven within” speak to us of the Source being the Divine light of our own true self. Attunement to our limitless inner truth cannot but bring us all the happiness for which we have been praying. “To thine own self be true, for it must follow as the night the day that thou can’st not then be false to any man.” The ultimate of prayer is the therefore recognition of our oneness with Divine Will and with all love and power, and via this route, with all those we perceived as separate. You can’t have it both ways.
You can’t be a victim and a master – and you can’t be a victim at all. This is the key to freedom through constant aligned prayer.