This article really spoke to me.
When people hear the word “prayer”, the knee jerk reaction is the rote poems written in their respective organized doctrines. Boy was raised Jewish. I was raised Catholic. If you were raised in any kind of organized religion, I’m sure you can recite the most common prayers without thinking twice about it. I think that’s why people find the word “pray” so offputting. The words of a pre-fab prayer don’t ring true. They aren’t capturing the emotion or the idea behind laying it all on the table in the face of a world in which we are specks.
When my dad almost died, I found myself praying frequently. By praying, I mean lying on the bed, sobbing my eyes out, begging the greater world to let me do something. I heard nothing back. I squeezed every bit of feeling out of myself in those moments. It did more for me than any number of Our Fathers, Hail Marys, or Prayers to St. Francis could ever do. Ironically, those are also doled out as punishment when you go to confession. That’s why, at least in my head, they don’t do anything. How can something that’s supposed to make you connect more with a greater power also be used as a weapon?
I don’t believe in a god or goddess. I don’t believe in a literal heaven or hell. Yet, I still pray. I still have something I need to communicate in the face of helplessness and fear. That’s also where AA failed. For all their huffing about praying to a higher power of your choice, they were referring to the traditional God of Christianity. They said all the prewritten prayers and went through the same motions that happened in a church service. It didn’t fit. Just like in school, I was expected to pray at certain times of the day, confess my sins, and be duly punished for them with the promise to go and sin no more. Not helpful. If anything, it made me far more likely to fight the system. When Emily & I would go to meetings together, we’d sit in the car for the first few minutes because we didn’t want to sit through the whole opening prayer bit. Quite the rebels, we were.
At one point or another, we’ve all yelled at the sky asking why something didn’t work out or we couldn’t do anything more to change a situation. We’ve prayed. When someone dies and we say “My thoughts are with your family” or “I’m sending you good vibes”, we’re praying for them. I see plenty of my friends on Facebook asking for prayers without even realizing it. They may even think they’re going out of their way to not ask for others to pray by suggesting “good vibes” or “positive thoughts”. I also know a lot of them would insist that’s not what they’re asking for at all. Regardless, we all have our way and call it by its own name. Ramen 😉
Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Say a little prayer