The following may shock you, and I hope it comes as just that.
Everyone practices prayer twenty-four hours a day . . . only neither do they know they’re praying, nor do they know (and this is the real problem) what it is they’re praying for! And this fact of life includes those people who say, “But I don’t believe in prayer. I don’t have a spiritual practice.” A moment’s consideration of the following insight proves the truth of this claim.
Expectation is a form of prayer.
Let’s look at a few simple examples to prove the point. Don’t you walk around hoping that what you’ve hoped for will happen? “Of course,” you would have to reply. “But what’s that to do with prayer?”
Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that your hope that money’s going to come is a kind of prayer to the god of money? Certainly no one deliberately, consciously, sits there and says, “Oh please, lord of dollar bill signs, pour yourself down on me.” Then again, most likely, some do. Hopefully you don’t say to yourself, “Oh god of Mars, strike down this person who said that evil thing about me.” But you may be hoping for some harm to befall someone who hurt you. It’s possible the wish for revenge may be the momentary point of your life, as it becomes for many when they feel betrayed. So, in case this isn’t yet clear to you, realized or not, these hopes or wishes — all such expectations — are a form of prayer.
When beset by troubles, how many of us have ever thought: “Why is this happening to someone as nice as me?” We’re forever telling ourselves, “I don’t deserve this kind of pain! My life is not supposed to be spinning out of control!” So we pray — in one form or another — for something that we think is either connected to what we want or to something that’s greater than the condition we perceive is punishing us. What we don’t yet understand is that within these prayers, whatever form they may take, we’re praying for something that we don’t understand. And this is why life continues to bring us the very things we say we don’t want.