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Power of Prayer With Emotions

Women Praying

The Power of Prayer has been known and experienced by billions of people for thousands of years. Through prayers, people have been seeking the guidance of a higher power for many reasons: World Peace, Health, Happiness, Wealth, Power, Success, Forgiveness etc. Prayer is the heart of the spiritual path.

When you contemplate why this universe exists, you might wonder that the Creator needs beings who can pray, that in prayer a necessary exchange of energies and will flows between the created and the Creator. Prayer engenders a dialogue of emotion between an individual or a group and the Divine, ultimately transforming into a monologue of God praying to God. The quality of this dialogue ranges extremely from the automatic blessing over food to the utter surrender of the saint in mystical union. Four factors determine the power of our prayer: the degrees of our faith, humility, awareness, and intention.

Devoid of faith we would never pray or practice at all. For many of us, faith begins in childhood as a set of beliefs learned from our family and community. As we grow older our spiritual beliefs may be based either in the intellect or in the emotions. Intellectual belief constitutes a reasoned orientation toward the Divine, while emotional belief springs from a heartfelt orientation. But our beliefs typically do not rise to the level of spurring us on to transformative spiritual practice. There comes a time, however, when we are drawn beyond ordinary belief to discover a quiet confidence in the Divine and a silent but insistent yearning to fill our spiritual need. That yearning can grow into a flame that lights our way and draws us ever closer to the sacred. Proximity adds fuel to that flame.

So does realization of our distance from the Divine, our separation from what matters so deeply. More and more, our disparate, competing drives align themselves toward the higher. What was once a cacophony of urges and desires unifies into a vibrant, living faith. Then we cross the chasm. The fortunate few attain to the all-consuming faith that emerges from direct and ongoing contact with Divinity. But if you look for the source of faith, you cannot see it. Neither thought nor emotion, faith springs from deep within the will.

Humbleness, the one essential quality for entering the revered, arises naturally through sincere prayer and also enables it. But by the time we reach adolescence, nearly all of us see ourselves as the center of the universe; we live at the opposite pole from true humility. Eventually the hard knocks of life show us our actual position as only one of many, and the path toward humility begins. The pure-hearted among us possess enough feeling for people and for all of life to be naturally humble, naturally harmless. The rest of us instinctively gravitate toward that unassuming person, out of respect and trust. Our road toward humility accelerates with an element of fear and trembling before our dim but growing intuition of the Greatness behind the universe. Understanding that thorough humility is a precondition for contact with the higher worlds, we examine our own self-centeredness and search for ways to let go of our egoism. Finally, in moments of true emptiness, we drop our separateness from the Divine, with none of our self left to be afraid for, humility momentarily perfected. The truly humble person remains all too rare, but a treasure for us all.

Our level of responsiveness during the time of prayer can range from the dimmest automatism to the brightest love. At the low end we stay distant, praying in a habitual, superficial manner, in rote ritual, perhaps lost in thoughts unrelated to the prayer, adding nothing to the sacred economy. Slightly more awareness brings contact with our thoughts, emotions, body, and surroundings, imbuing the ritual with feeling. Still our prayer remains largely self-centered. Another notch of awareness and the stillness of consciousness itself unfold before us, opening the field to a more universal prayer. We pray from the whole of ourselves and with full awareness of the significance of prayer. We pray not only as ourselves, but also as one unit of the whole of humanity. Moving further into the depths of awareness, we approach what lies veiled behind the stillness: the realm of the Divine. Then we pray, touched by the Divine Spirit before Whom we stand in awe and love, and to whom we address our prayers.

The excellence of supplicant prayer depends on the intention it embodies. We might ask for satisfaction of some personal vanity or other desire. Deeper and we ask for fulfillment of a real personal need, such as restoration of health in times of illness. A higher form of petitioner prayer regards the needs of others, such as health for the other person, or peace on Earth.

Beyond supplicant prayer, we pray without a specific or personal result in mind: praying to glorify the Most High, praying to pave our path toward God, praying for help on our path, praying for guidance in our service of Life, praying as an act of service to God, returning our love and intelligence, our energy and will, our selves to God. Our prayer becomes a true act of reverent worship as we pour out our love, awe, respect, and gratitude for God’s largesse in creating this universe and endowing us with freedom.

At the level of heedful prayer, we empty, open, and surrender ourselves to a connection with the higher worlds. We reach inward, outward, beyond space and time, beyond consciousness itself. We reach with the whole of ourselves, with body, heart, and mind, with all of our attention and intention, and perhaps with words calling out to God. Utterly given over to the act of communing with the Divine, we open ourselves to become a two-way channel that sends our hope, gratitude, and love upstream, while enabling an influx of higher energy to descend into us. This higher energy can blend with the sensitive energy in our body, refining it and helping build our soul.

All of this applies both to individual and communal prayer. While all prayer springs from individual acts, praying in community may wonderfully enhance the efficacy of prayer. The key factor is the degree to which the participants share the same intention and pray in unison. Disorganized communal prayer, where people merely mill about and chat inside a house of worship, has little real value. The deeper the shared intention and the more unified the awareness, words, and actions, the more powerful the communal worship.

When prayers end in a silent devotional craving for union, without words, without thoughts, we have reached the highest form of prayer, which is meditation. When we sit still and keep our mind still, we have discovered the key to meditation. In that state of meditation and passion, all prayers are answered.