Prayer to the Unknowable
Having grown up Catholic I’ve been exposed to the rudiments of prayer since a young age. From the prescribed, formal memorization of The Lord’s Prayer to a more spontaneous prayer that voices the soul’s supplication, there seems to be a power in prayer to relieve anxiety in one’s heart. This relief, this power of prayer is a subjective experience, but when one is in the grip of fear, this subjective sense of relief is an experience with great validity to the individual experiencing it.
Prescribed Prayer VS Spontaneous Prayer
I believe that the value of a memorized, prescribed prayer lies in its almost mantra-like quality. If one has memorized the prayer, and can speak it vocally, sub-vocally, or internally with confidence then one can savour the lilt and assonance of each word or phrase while contemplating its’ meaning and allowing the positive feeling that the prayer invokes to imbue one’s being.
Perhaps also the ritual elements of prescribed prayer give it its’ power to comfort and calm a troubled spirit. The importance and efficacy of ritual will be addressed in a separate post.
Desire as a Key Component of Prayer
It seems that desire for a certain outcome is a key component of prayer. Whether it is an outcome for oneself, another, or humankind in general, prayer is imbued with this desire for a result, or change, however specific or generalized (such as ‘Happiness’). In this regard, prayer has something in common with the practice of Magick (also coming up in another blog).
Importance of Faith
And what of faith? What role does it play in prayer? And how important is it in order to experience the benefits of prayer? Would one even attempt the act of prayer without a modicum of faith? In the eventual manifestation of what one had prayed for? How does prayer relate to the law of attraction for that matter: (another blog post)
It seems to me that faith is a very important component of prayer, even if just a spark of it – a spark that could eventually ignite a fire of faith?
Who to Pray to?
And who or what exactly should we be praying to? Ultimately the name you give to that certain something that inspires within you certain feelings of: Faith? Love? Creature-feeling? Humility coupled with expansiveness? Etc?… matters not.
Does it Actually Work?
In terms of intercessory prayer the results of scientific study seem inconclusive. However, the study of personal prayer, wherein someone practices the ritual of prayer seem to show that a personal prayer practice has similar benefits for the individual as a Tai Chi, Yoga, or meditation practice. Thus, many of the positive benefits of Tai Chi, Yoga and meditation practice such as: a greater sense of peace, a feeling of gratitude, an increase in loving-kindness, etc., can also be attributed to a practice of prayer, including the physical benefits that any practice that relaxes the mind/body entity can instill, such as lowered blood pressure, a lessening of nervous tension, and a general feeling of well-being.
Are affirmations a form of prayer?
After some thought one can’t help but wonder if the repetition of affirmations (vocal, or internally) could be akin to prescribed prayer and its mantra-like quality. Perhaps that is something to explore in a separate post.