Friday, September 4, 2015

The Many Avenues of Prayer

As we all well know, there are many avenues of prayer in the world.  Every religion and denominations within those religions may have their own prayers or their own ways of praying.  None are right or wrong; they’re just different.

Most in the Christian religions are familiar with “The Lord’s Prayer,” but what most people don’t know is that there are countless variations of this prayer depending upon who did the translating from the original Aramaic language or those languages thereafter, when it was translated, what version of the Bible it was translated for, and who added their own thoughts and beliefs to the prayer as time went on.

The one most familiar is (with some variations):  “Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.”

One of the earliest versions of the Lord’s Prayer translated from the Aramaic version to English is quite different (and again, there are numerous variations):  “Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light, and vibration.  May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.  Your Heavenly Domain approaches.  Let Your will come true in the universe (all that vibrates) just as on earth (that is material and dense).  Give us wisdom (understanding, assistance) for our daily need, detach the fetters of faults that bind us, (karma) like we let go the guilt of others.  Let us not be lost in superficial things (materialism, common temptations), but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.  From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act, the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.  Sealed in trust, faith, and truth. (I confirm with my entire being).”

You can do your own research on all the diverse translations since the original version that Jesus spoke according to the Bible.  Again, none are right or wrong; it just depends on which version of the prayer you prefer. 

Many people believe in speaking a prayer that was already written and all they have to do is repeat it.  Some will say these prayers before meals for instance.  Some are repeated word for word in church services.  There are those who say that in order to get prayers answered, you have to pray a certain way or it won’t work.  I don’t think it matters as long as it comes from your heart.

Personally, I prefer affirmative prayers.  This is a process that involves connecting with the spirit of God (by whatever name you call it) and declaring positive beliefs about the desired outcome.  It is not a begging or pleading prayer or praying to someone or something outside of ourselves.  Saying an affirmative prayer means we know and believe that the answered prayer is for our highest good no matter the outcome.  Affirmative prayers reflect that we are certain that we are each being led to our highest good, despite any perceived appearances.  Sometimes I will even add “this or something better.”  

For many of us, we know the power of our thoughts, and many believe that each thought we think is a prayer to God/Universe; therefore, it is very important to watch our thoughts carefully.  Even though it is almost impossible to keep negative thoughts from entering our minds, we can be mindful of them when they do occur, honor them, and then change them into something positive.

Usually when I pray for someone, instead of using the term “prayer,” I tell them I am holding them in loving consciousness.  I rarely affirm a particular outcome because humanly, I don’t know what is best for that person’s highest good.   Consequently, my prayer could be praying against what would be best for that person.  I also surround the person with love and light knowing the prayers will be answered for that person’s best interests.

Sometimes the best prayer we can pray is just to say “Thank you!”  Count our blessings!  Feel appreciation for the good we do have in our lives. 

At Unity, we have a prayer that says, “The Light of God surrounds me.  The Love of God enfolds me.  The Power of God protects me.  The Presence of God watches over me.  Wherever I am, God is, and all is well.”  And as Gandhi stated, “It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September  4, 2015.

1 comment:

Sharon Warren said...

It is lovely that there are various translations and verses/interpretations of the Lord' Prayer, which you have beautifully outlined here. I particularly like Prayers of the Cosmos, which are meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz.