The presence of prayer

The only way for human beings to change is for them to conquer their inner darkness and rediscover the eternal dignity within their own lives. Cultivating the noble spirit with which all people are endowed will directly lead to a change in the destiny of humankind. -Daisaku Ikeda (www.sharingbuddhism.com)

In reading God Has No Religion (by Frances Sheridan Goulart), I came across this passage about how one can become the prayer that is prayed. By making the prayer a mantra that is repeated several times a day, a person eventually becomes “transformed into the prayer itself and begins to reflect to others the compassion, love, and nonviolence of Jesus, Buddha, or the spirit who is invoked.” Goulart is obviously indicating that the prayer translates into compassion, love, and nonviolence (as opposed to “please, God, let me win the lottery!” I am not sure how that prayer would be translated into personhood).

This is the same idea as the notion that our thoughts create our lives (which is not really a notion, but becoming more of an irrefutable fact). Self-awareness can be a real beast sometimes. I am painfully aware that I am not living the prayers I pray.

It could be that I don’t have a good working definition of what a prayer is. It could be that I don’t pray long enough or often enough. It could be I am not praying the right words. It could be that I am not pointing my prayers in the right direction.

I was taught early in my Catholicism that we could pray to God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and an array of saints, all of whom have a specific function in prayer world, such as St. Jude being the Patron Saint of Lost Causes. A prayer to St. Jude is a prayer of desperation and, in my view, there are a lot of desperate people so he must be overloaded with requests. Mostly, my prayers go to the nebulous God who I define as the universal consciousness – the energy that we are all a part of.

I had always thought that a prayer is an asking, a desire for something specific – an outcome, an item, a direction. I have prayed for strength and wisdom. It has never occurred to me to pray in seeking my noble spirit. If I pray to “rediscover the eternal dignity within” my life, exactly how will that prayer be answered? Does it matter if I fulfill my own prayer or must that gift be bestowed upon me? Will God swoop down and suddenly gift me with eternal insight? Probably not. God’s swooping and bestowing days of a Biblical nature are the products of fairy tales and wishful thinking. I think what will probably happen is that God (i.e., life) will place opportunities for me to witness my eternal dignity.

The answer to every prayer is its intent. It is simply up to me to open my eyes, my heart, my soul, my mind to the presence of God in everyone and everything I encounter.

What right do I have to pray for someone else? Is it right for me to wish for an outcome that might not be the one that person desires? What if someone wants me to pray for something that I know is not good for that person? Like everyone else, I view the world from my own need to survive. I project my hopes, passions, desires, needs, wants believing that my way is the right way, the best way for me, and if it is good for me, isn’t it good for everyone else?

Maybe. Maybe not. I might never know. But I believe that prayer is a powerful way to move the universe.

My friend, Laurie, at Speaking from the Heart sent me a wonderful prayer for this New Year: that my every dream comes true; that I find myself surrounded by friends, laughter, and good times; that my every cup runneth over financially, romantically, spiritually, and creatively; that good health be my faithful companion, peace my guarded ally, and love my perpetual guide. My noble spirit stirs at the thought that I can become the living transformation of this prayer.

How can I go wrong with that?

©2012 Barbara L. Kass

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12 Responses to “The presence of prayer”

  1. jeffstroud Says:

    Barbara,

    The wise woman has spoken (Laurie) ! May your find yourself surrounded with all that is good and kind, productive and expanding.

    I found this blog a gift of the New Year in my Laptop, and I even took time to read it, and to respond.

    Like you Barbara, I was raised in a Catholic tradition of prayers, of words dedicated to create a stir and a longing in my heart but usually came from my mind. Early in sobriety I took a class in prayer at the Seminary, I learned that they where all types of forms of prayer. Many of which you mention. Yet I really did not get it until I read Conversations with God in which it states “The Correct prayer is therefore never a prayer of supplication, but a prayer of gratitude.” The book later states, “God knows what you know, and what you know is what appears in your reality.”

    Do I forget this of course, yet I am ever mindful to be conscious of what I am looking for, even that I sometimes forget to be clear about. Therefore I end up with an unclear response.

    I am forever grateful for your questing, your sharing of your blog and process. May the New Year, each moment bring you the gifts you so wish to receive, gratefully !!

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Jeff — I love the part that God knows what I know. God knows my heart, my thoughts, and my soul’s desire. Sometimes, I think that God might know all these things before I realize them. I have had my share of unclear responses, too.

      I am so very grateful for your photos, your constant reinforcement of living the life you choose. Namaste.

  2. Sandi White Says:

    I feel blessed to have come upon such a wise and intuitive look at prayer. I fall into the habit of repeating the same words over and over every day as if by repetition the words will gain more weight. In striving to become closer to the Source, it seems that I have widened the distance. A soul shouldn’t try to force themselves upon the Creator, maybe it’s better to just be still and quiet enough to recognize that the mighty Force that moves the universes is also small enough to take root in your heart.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      You and Jeff are full of quotes for me to steal, Sandi. “The mighty Force that moves the universe is also small enough to take root in your heart.” I am going to use that someday in my book and credit you. See? The prayer Laurie sent me is already manifesting. 🙂

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Barbara –

    Like you, I “pray” (TALK to) Source Energy (which I refer to as Divine Love).

    I meditate (LISTEN to) Source Energy as well.

    I invest time in both throughout the day.

    I ever-so-much like the statement: “… one can become the prayer that is prayed.” That, my friend, is awesome!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      It is this sharing, Laurie, that I think is one of the most supportive things we can do for our prayers. Just letting someone know of what my daily prayer/mantra is will get that person to thinking, and they, too, might possibly hold those words for themselves. The investment of daily moments is the key to realizing our prayers. We are more powerful than we believe, and we are not alone with that power.

  4. Kimberly Grady Says:

    Oh yes…..I guess I am living the prayer Laurie mentions…more and more….
    My friend, Laurie, at sent me a wonderful prayer for this New Year: that my every dream comes true; that I find myself surrounded by friends, laughter, and good times; that my every cup runneth over financially, romantically, spiritually, and creatively; that good health be my faithful companion, peace my guarded ally, and love my perpetual guide.

    Amen……

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim — I am so happy for you to be living your prayer. I don’t know the whole story behind our being in this world, but I bet we had a great deal to say in creating it. I hope you keep creating the prayer you want to live.

  5. The presence of ashes « Eternal Presence Says:

    […] Eternal Presence Bringing true presence to life « The presence of prayer […]

  6. passionatepresence Says:

    Very nice post Barbara! Loved this line…

    “Mostly, my prayers go to the nebulous God who I define as the universal consciousness – the energy that we are all a part of.”

    Difficult to describe most definitely, and you do as good a job as anyone with your nebulousness.

    This quote caught my eye.

    “It is simply up to me to open my eyes, my heart, my soul, my mind to the presence of God in everyone and everything I encounter.”

    My question: Is it up to you?

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Well, Ben . . . that is a nebulous question. Is it up to me? If spirit/God/Source/all-that-is lives through me as Barbara, then perhaps it is up to “us.” On the other hand, perhaps it is not even a choice. Can any of us make it through life with eyes closed? We learn even in spite of ourselves. We see, we know, we become regardless of our intentions. How can I be “Barbara” in this life and NOT open my eyes, heart, soul, and mind to presence? Isn’t that what I set in motion when I chose to be human?

      These questions and many more may or may not be answered in this lifetime, but they sure are worth asking.

  7. Ben Says:

    Yes, I suppose you are right that it is a nebulous question Barbara. I was interested to see who it is you think you are not so much if the question was important or not.

    You did say something very interesting in your reply to that regard, so let me get more specific. Is their a spirit/God/Source/all that is that lives through you?

    So when you open your eyes to presence, what does that mean experientially? Again, just wondering since the thread seems to be going this direction.

    Please don’t feel obligated to answer. I am just curious.

    Thanks!
    Ben

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