Over the past few years, as I learn and grow in my spirituality, my thoughts on what prayers are, have been shifting. I used to think of prayers as either a way to give thanks or a way to ask for what I wanted. It felt somewhat removed and like I didn’t have much control over the outcome. As I really began to understand that everything in the universe is energy, I started to realize that for me prayer could be a way to tap into the vibration of the universe that I want to attract back to me. For example if I want to bring more love into my life, then in my prayers it would help me to really FEEL and BE love as much as possible.
Recently I read a newsletter from the spiritual teacher Caroline Myss. She quoted a passage from the theologian, Thomas Aquinas. The quote, as well as what she said, both really spoke to me, so I want to share them here. (The Thomas Aquinas quote is in blue and the rest is what Caroline Myss says. I also added the paragraph breaks, the italics and the bold.)
“Prayer is but the unfolding of our desires. But our desires are holy in proportion as they are confined to one thing, in accordance with those words of the Psalmist: One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after. Whence it would seem to follow that our prayers are acceptable to God just in proportion to their brevity.
(Caroline Myss adds: In other words, length of time is not the important factor but clear intent and focus of heart.)
But to prolong our prayer does not mean that we ask for many things, but that our hearts are continuously set upon one object for which we yearn.”
(C.M. adds: And therein lay the jewel of his teachings – you must live in harmony and in union with your prayers.)
Caroline Myss follow with: “That is, it is foolish to pray for health and then sabotage your health by your choice to eat what you know does harm to your body or by avoiding exercise. Prayer and the intervention of heaven will not compensate for conscious choices that counteract what your prayers are seeking.
It is foolish to pray for the healing of a relationship while being unforgiving in your heart. Prayer and the grace of heaven will not compensate for actions generated by a wrathful heart. You must live, think, act, and dwell in harmony with that for which you are praying and in that way, become a congruent vessel to receive the grace you are requesting.”
I believe that there is wisdom in this, whether or not you pray or believe in God. If our goal is to be healthy and we do things that go against that goal, then it is very unlikely that we will achieve the goal.
It is challenging to always stay in alignment with our prayers or goals. It takes consciously making the best choice that I can possibly make, in each and every moment. AND for me it is also key to be very gentle with myself when I don’t always manage to do this, as it does no good to beat myself up about it. Instead I try to simply acknowledge, “oh, I lost focus” and simply get back on track as best I can.