Friday, August 13, 2010

What is Prayer?

Prayer can take many forms: kneeling, face down on the floor, in lotus position, with a home alter, at a church, in the privacy of your own mind, and in your daily actions. All religions are variations of one another. Extremists in every religion struggle to understand that fact and will fight to keep their religion on top. Although some forms of prayer and worship are much different than others, all prayers are to worship, give thanks, and to ask for something. Sounds simple right? Well, let's compare...
Christians tend to pray in churches. Prayer is infrequent outside of church unless something is wanted, lol. When they do pray, it is typically vocally with their hands together and their heads bowed or silently within their minds and hearts. Church groupings can be large, small, formal and ritualistic, or like a rock concert. All Christians pray to the son of God, Jesus. Protestants tend to pray to angels for protection; Catholics tend to pray to saints or Jesus' mother Mary so that they may pray for them as well.
Muslims tend to pray often and on a daily basis. Devout Muslims pray 5 times a day, or more if needed. Muslims pray at home or in community Mosques. Muslims pray with their knees, heads, and hands on the floor, in a manner similar to bowing to a king. The position is similar to the yoga position called Downward Facing Dog. Although the stories of Jesus and his teachings can be found in the Qur'an, the Prophet Muhammad is the founder of Islam and is thus more significant to the Muslims. They pray directly to God, although they do ask for help from the Prophet Muhammad as well.
Jews are very similar to Muslims in that their messiah has not yet arrived on Earth. The Torah is the Jews' holy book. Jews are very diverse and have many ways in which they pray. Some orthodox Jews are very ritualistic, like Catholics. Other, less formal Jews use Numerology and Kabbalah to predict and understand their paths. The Jewish word for prayer is tefilah. Tefilahs are done in honor of God. The reasoning behind their prayers are exactly the same as the above mentioned faiths.
Buddhists are considered very different from the Judeo-Christian traditions in that Buddhists believe that God is everywhere and in everyone. The typical prayer position is called Lotus position. In Lotus position, one's body is grounded from the top of one's head, through the spine, and out through the floor. Prayer for a Buddhist is about achieving a higher self through enlightenment and self-improvement. Instead of asking some distant God for help, they seek it from within.
Hindus are very similar, although they tend to have more mythology and rituals behind their prayers. Hinduism is more polytheistic than Buddhism and is the foundation for Buddhism. Through meditation, self-reflection, and good deeds, Hindus hope to reach enlightenment and good karma so that they may be reborn as a better person or achieve ultimate enlightenment.
Satanism is a collective term. Some do not worship Satan while others are loyal followers. Satanists follow the teachings and rituals of Anton LaVey and Aleister Crowley. Satanic rituals are very complex and are generally not changed. Satanists are not pagans and use spellcrafting to conjure or invoke angels/guardians and demons. The enlightenment sought after in these rituals is power and knowledge.
Wiccan tradition of "an ye harm none, do as ye wilt" is derived from Crowley's "love is the whole of the law... do as ye wilt". Wiccans, like Hindus, believe in reincarnation and use meditation in their practices. Wiccans are polytheists, or pagans, and use the Earth as their place of worship and for tools for spellcrafting. Wiccan spellcrafting is typically in prayer for better things within their lives or the lives of those around them. Even Wiccan rituals are meant to call for something into their lives. Wiccan prayer is free-flowing and highly personal. Wiccan spellcrafting is simply prayer with the use of tools to better visualize the changes they want to see. Wiccans believe that through visualization, they can call what they want into existence.
All forms of prayer, regardless of the traditions behind them, have the power of intention. Intention is the key similarity in all these forms of prayer. Everyone is seeking something and by pleading to God/the Universe/insert name here with all his or her effort, they are hoping to attract what they want into their lives. There is a reason prayer persists in every religion for thousands of years... it works. Recent studies have shown that positive affirmations and prayer help in healing patients. The Cancer Society of America actually uses prayer and positive affirmations in their patients' cancer treatments. There are organizations dedicated to prayer that are praying for those affected by the oil spill that are made up of people from each of these religions and many others who have decided to coexist so that we can have a better, more blessed planet. I personally know Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Satanists, and Wiccans who are all trying to help others in their community through prayer lists/groups and community outreach. Good intention goes a long way. So put down the boxing gloves and see all of us as one. If you wish, hope/meditate on/affirm/pray for a better life for yourself, you will attract it to you. Understanding this fact can help you begin to hope for better things, and through that prayer, achieve better things for everyone.
Wishing you the best!


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"An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous." -Henry Ford

"All that we are is a product of what we have thought." -Buddha
So make sure you are worthy of what you create with your thoughts!