A friend of mine is going through a tough time and I told her to pray in and out of her day to steady her nerves and find direction. She sighed and said, “I don’t even know how to pray. What do people mean when they say that? Do I just say an Our Father every day?”
She has a point. The idea of praying is bandied about as loosely as the idea of falling in love. “I’ll pray for you!” we tell friends. “Please say a prayer for me” we ask our loved ones. But what does that really mean?
The word “prayer” comes from the Latin word “precari” which means to ask. But as I often remind my children, God is not a wishing well. Prayer is about taking a time out of your day to tune in and check in with yourself and your higher power. Praying establishes an intimate relationship with our God. Imagine being married to someone and never once speaking to them. Wouldn’t be much of a marriage, would it? Yet, that’s how many people go through their lives – wanting a deeper connection with God but never talking to him.
When you make prayer a daily part of your life – as much as brushing your teeth and checking email – you will find yourself feeling calmer, less stressed, more guided and connected. Miracles will occur in your life.
There are four steps to keep in mind when practicing daily prayer which are easy to remember with this acronym:
P – Prepare
R – Request
A – Affirm
Y – Yeild
In order to pray into our day, we need to prepare. This involves taking time out to check within. How are you feeling about the different situations in your life? Is something nagging at you? Are you feeling guilty? Has someone hurt your feelings? Take an inventory of your emotions and confess and share these with God. Center yourself by taking deep, calming breaths. Fill your body with the light of God’s love while reflecting on the divine energy that is a part of you. When you pray, you are entering sacred space. Prepare your heart and soul for this.
Tell God what you would like to occur in your life this day. Include friends, family members and co-workers that you’d like to pray for as well. Prayer is simply energy. It is thought directed energy, so when you pray for someone else you are sending them good energy.
God has given us all free will. This is a beautiful gift but one that comes with a price. We have to make our own choices. Sometimes on this journey, it can feel as though we are all alone, but we’re not. God is always with us. But first, we must ask. “Ask and you shall receive” is specifically written in the bible for a reason.
Try to make your prayer petition as specific as possible. Don’t put the change you’re asking for on others but rather on yourself. If, for example, you’re dealing with a difficult boss instead of praying for the boss to change, pray that God works through your heart so that you’re able to understand and work well with this person.
Prayer is energy. When we repeat a prayer or affirmation over and over, it reinforces a chemical pathway in the brain. Pagans will knot string nine times to lock in energy of a prayer request while Catholics say Novenas for nine days – a tradition that began before Christ ascended and asked his apostles to pray for nine days until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended. So throughout many religions and beliefs, repeating and affirming our prayer has been shown to help significantly.
Affirming our prayer repeatedly also helps us to focus our energy and attract that which we’re seeking. While you’re affirming your prayer, be open to any insights or coincidences that occurs. God speaks to us in hidden ways. But if you’re open, you’ll see the guidance. Catherine Ponder (author of Dynamic Laws of Prosperity) writes how she was repeatedly praying for her son to find guidance in his career choice. Every time she would stop to pray for her son, an Air Force plane would fly low over her house. This never happened except when she was praying for her son. Therefore, it came as no surprise when her son announced that he was joining the Air Force. Be open to God’s language. You’ll receive messages through synchronicity, repetitive thoughts, dreams, sudden inspirations, and “chance” encounters.
This is probably the most important and hardest part of the praying process. We must yield to God’s answer and be ready to receive a no. God always answers our prayers. Always. It’s just that sometimes the answer is “yes” but quite often it’s “no” or “not now.” Being ready to yield to God’s answer takes an attitude of trust and surrender. We have to believe in God’s infinite wisdom and the mystery of his reasoning.
My friend Lucy had just come out of a tough divorce and met her old boyfriend at a high school reunion. They quickly rekindled their relationship, but something was missing. He didn’t always return her phone calls. He wasn’t forthcoming with his emotions, and they didn’t have a lot of interests in common. She kept praying and praying for God to make this relationship work but they broke up a year later. Three months after the breakup, she met a wonderful man who was everything and more that she’d ever prayed for. Had God abandoned her when she was praying for the relationship with the high school boyfriend to work? No, of course not. He just knew that someone better was waiting and would be there when Lucy was ready.
When you’re praying, prepare your heart to be in God’s presence. Reflect on the magnificence of creation and the divine power that lights up this world. Share your worries, regrets and fears with God. State your prayer and affirm it to yourself and God throughout the week. Ask for what you want but be confident that God knows what’s best for you. Surrender to his will rather than your own knowing that you’ll be guided by a light greater than you can imagine.