Learning to Pray

What is prayer?  Does it come easily or naturally to you?  For me it seems enormously difficult and conflicted.

How do we commune with God?  Or suppose you’re an atheist – is prayer then meaningless for you?

I think prayer is an expression of our longing to be connected with God, with Nature, and the Cosmos.  The connection is feeling a part of, a participant in our experience of reality.  We want to feel like our lives matter, that those we care about matter.

My first recollections of prayer were a kind of litany against fear: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  And if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”  Or, “All night, all day, angels are watching over me my Lord.  All night, all day, angels are watching over me.”

Then as I got older they became a list of requests, generally in terms of wanting something for myself or another, whether health, prosperity, wisdom, etc.

But imagine talking to a friend this way, everyday presenting them with a list of petitions.  Such a relationship probably wouldn’t last long, and generally neither do such prayers, at least not for me.

But still I have this longing to be in relationship with God, with nature, with my friends and family, and acquaintance.  The older I get the more I realize that I am always in God’s presence.  I am part of nature and in nature.

I can hold my friends and family before God in my mind’s eye, and appreciate them, bless them from my heart, and imagine them finding their place and purpose in the world, imagine them blessing the world in their own special way.  I can imagine us connected and full of God’s presence, full of God’s grace, and blessing others and one another, blessing God in our own way.

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