Michael A. Michail
Copyright @ 2013
All Rights Reserved
What is Prayer?
Prayer is communication with Divinity.
For the mystic, prayer is aimed at the divinity within us – the Divine aspect of ourselves that links us to the ultimate form and power of the universe. This divinity that we recognize within us and around us is the Divinity of our own realization and understanding. Each person might have a different conception of the Divine based on their own experience, education, upbringing, culture, attitudes, mind-set and so on; yet each person recognizes some force other than their own conscious awareness that they call upon. For many, the call only goes out in times of trouble or inner conflict. Other people make a regular habit of talking to the Divine.
Divinity, in its ultimate sense, encompasses the entire universe all the time – and the divine part within each of us, the Divinity of our own realization and understanding, is aware of each of our thoughts and needs at all times.It should, therefore, be easy to communicate with Divinity. But, as usual, people try to complicate basic, mystical principles.
People usually, and erroneously, think prayer is all about asking Divinity for stuff. The Master Jesus said, “Your Father in heaven knows what you want before you ask.” So, if Jesus is correct in saying that God knows what we want, and yet isn’t giving it to us, what’s the point of praying?
Well prayer isn’t about asking for things. Capital “G” God, is not an all-powerful, wish granting genie in the sky.
I’ll be a little controversial and tell you that there are actually a lot of entities and spirit beings roaming the universe and you might inadvertently contact them. If you do, they might choose to fulfill your wishes: but, be warned, they will expect something from you in return – there will be a PRICE for their services.
Leaving that aside, mystically speaking, you already have everything you need to live a great life. Sure, you might want other things – but that doesn’t mean you should have them – or that they are the best things for you. The Buddha said that suffering in life is the result of desire. By limiting desire you limit suffering. Prayer is more important than mere petitioning. Prayer is a method for sustaining a personal relationship with Higher Power.
As I said, for many people, Divinity is seen as a kind of wish granting genie. What pass for prayers are basically requests or demands for specific things. “Oh God give me more money,” “Oh God heal my broken toe,” “Oh God make my spouse love me.” Often these prayers end with some offer of service, as though a contract is being made – “God, if you do this I promise to be good, quit smoking, give to charity, be nice to my mother-in-law, or whatever.” Mostly God is offered something the person should be doing anyway, but isn’t – and isn’t likely to do despite the promise. These so-called prayers rightly go unfulfilled.
(BE ON GUARD! If this type of prayer is being regularly answered you may have contacted something OTHER than the Divinity within. I can’t stress enough that there are many other intelligences in the universe besides ourselves and some of them have no qualms about impersonating Divinity for their own warped purposes – usually resulting in harm to the humans who contact them).
The Master Jesus said, “What parent would give their child a snake when asked for a fish? Therefore, if you who are wicked know how to give good things to your children how much more good will your heavenly Father give to you, His children?” The Divine Intelligence of the Universe, of which you are a part, understands that humans have needs. We have incarnated in material bodies, born upon the earth in a physical manifestation. Of course we all need things to live. The renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow, generated a whole hierarchy of needs that include food, shelter, sex, sleep, safety, love, belongingness, and self-esteem, values for growth such as meaningfulness and self-sufficiency and the need for self-actualization. For the normal human, these needs can be satisfied only by getting the things of concern. The Universe knows this; it is a fact of nature and biology. Without food, we die. Without shelter and safety, we suffer pain and hardship. Without sex and human contact, we become emotionally disturbed and despondent. The needs must be satisfied if we are to live any kind of life. We are not machines and we should not be slaves. The satisfaction of these needs is a fundamental right.
Prayer helps us get into rapport with our own inner power and spirit. Problems, conflicts, struggles and stress of all kinds are the result of a fragmentation of our own sense of self. Just as we might say that there is a breach between humans and Universal Intelligence so we might also say that there is a breach between our higher mind and lower mind – between our unconscious and our conscious selves. Healing this breach is one of the greatest benefits of mystical studies. Prayer helps us center ourselves – makes our energy more united, more in tune, more functional. Prayer focuses us on the things that are truly important.
If you should take the time to study some of the most highly evolved mystics in history, from any country or culture, you would find that none of them actually want anything. At times they have accepted help and comfort from the people around them – but, in the purest sense, they wanted nothing. And all their prayers were aimed at developing a stronger bond with Divinity.
Truly, many of these great mystics of old had a mission in life – such as building a temple or a community or liberating a nation. They may have had a distinctive message that needed to be shared with the world. Yet, if they were free of the burden of their mission, they would all have doubtless chosen to live a simple life of prayer and contemplation. You and I, however, are probably not so evolved. I, for one, still derive pleasure from many things of the world other than prayer and meditation. But I know I hope to one day leave all other pleasures behind and find my bliss completely in my relationship with Divinity. How, then, does one go about rallying the inner forces and aligning with the natural flow that leads to the achievement of personal bliss? How else but with meditation and prayer?
One Common Type of Prayer
A frequently used prayer is the PRAYER OF PETITION. This is a prayer in which you ask/beg/bargain with God to satisfy some wish. On a personal level, I believe this type of prayer is fundamentally useless since the Divine Essence knows your needs before you ask for them and already longs to provide you with satisfaction. Prayers of petition, for the most part, are only of value in a public context – as a reassurance to the people that a Parental Deity is aware of the need. The prayer of petition is done so that people might respond by giving glory to the Divinity of their hearts. Unfortunately, people have misunderstood the nature of prayer and think they must petition the Divine Essence in private.
Five Valid Types of Prayer
There are five main ways we can think about the Divine and communicate with Divine Essence.
1. The prayer of ADORATION.
In this, we contemplate and affirm the holiness and splendor of the God of our hearts.
2. The prayer of CONTRITION.
In this, we formally acknowledge (again, only to ourselves or other people we choose to share this with, since the Divine already knows about it) any errors or missed opportunities we have experienced and consider the impact this has on our lives. We ask forgiveness KNOWING the Divine Mind has ALREADY forgiven us. Yet, we also must forgive ourselves and understand the consequences of our actions and attitudes. This self-forgiveness is far more important than any other kind, since ultimately any judgment that befalls us is the result of our own self-image.
3. The prayer of THANKSGIVING.
Perhaps the most important prayer for daily use, here we acknowledge all the good things we already have. No matter what your present circumstances this prayer can help ATTUNE YOUR MIND to receive more of life’s good things.
4. The prayer of SUPPLICATION.
This is the proper form of the prayer of petition. We do not ask for good things in our lives, we recognize and expect that good things are always coming to us and we prepare ourselves to ACCEPT them all with confidence and humility.
5. The prayer of INTERCESSION.
Another good prayer for every day, here we acknowledge and accept that good things will flow to other people – whether they are friends or strangers.