I grew up in a religiously, culturally and gastronomically Jewish home in Willingboro, NJ which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Our family went to synagogue weekly, practiced holiday rituals, lit the candles on Friday night, but kept kosher only when my paternal grandmother lived with us. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16. […]
When we consider prayer, most folks think about petitioning, asking, begging, pleading, cajoling for something we believe we don’t have. Instead, I prefer to think of prayer in terms of gratitude for what is already in my life and what I am inviting into my life.
When I was in attending The New Seminary, I wrote something called Prayer Is Portable with the idea that it is something that need not be done in an edifice such as church, synagogue, temple or mosque. It is not necessary to have an intermediary such as priest, minister, rabbi or imam. There is a direct line between our hearts and that of the “God of our understanding.” (to use a 12 step recovery term)
Gregg Braden shares a story called Pray Rain in his book Secrets of The Lost Mode of Prayer. I had heard him tell it during a presentation he offered in Philadelphia a few years ago and have heard it many times since then. It never fails to amaze me.
Gregg tells about a time of drought in northern New Mexico, when a Native American friend asked him to join him for an early-morning hike to a medicine wheel so he could pray rain. They walked for a couple hours to a circle of stones on the ground divided by an X or stones within the circle. Gregg’s friend explained that the wheel itself had not power, but was a place of focus for the one invoking the prayer. His friend then took off his shoes, stepped into the circle, honored the four directions and his ancestors,. placed his hands in prayer position, closed his eyes and stood soon motionless.
After a few moments, he said he had finished and was ready to leave. Gregg said “Already? I thought you were going to pray for rain!”
“‘No,’ he replied. ‘I said that I would pray rain. If I had prayed for rain, it could never happen.'”
“He began by describing how the elders of his village had shared the secrets of prayer with him when he was young boy. The key, he said, is that when we ask for something to happen, we give power to what we do not have. Prayers for healing empower the sickness. Prayers for rain empower the drought. ‘Continuing to ask for these things only gives more power to the things that we would like to change,’ he said.”
Gregg’s friend explained: “I began to have the feeling of what rain feels like. I felt the feeling of rain on my body, and what it feels like to stand with my naked feet in the mud of our village plaza because there has been so much rain. I smelled the smells of rain on the earthen walls in our village, and felt what it feels like to walk through fields of corn chest deep high because there has been so much rain.”
It started to rain the next day and continued on for many days. That is the way of things. When we live AS IF something is already so, then we can live into it more fully and freely.