I feel like a dork sometimes, admitting the things I don’t know how to do. Like, for example, praying. I am learning to pray. Last night I went to Bible study at my church for the first time (the first time I have been to a Bible study since college) because I was drawn to the topic — “Purpose, Power and Practice of Prayer.” It was described as being for anyone who wants to improve and deepen their prayer life in any way. When I saw that, I thought, Cool. That’s me. I want to improve and deepen my communication with Spirit.
Last night’s study was a beginner’s lesson in praying, addressing common fears and hangups that tend to block people’s growth and risk-taking in that area (which I never would have even thought about). The study leader (the pastor of the church) talked a lot about the ways that some people make prayer out to be very difficult, tricky, or complicated, with specific skills required for the prayer to count, and he emphasized instead simplicity and the need to find the right way for you personally to talk to and with God. I would say that over the past few months I’ve been becoming more comfortable talking to God in a heartfelt, sincere, and conversational way, spontaneously, with words coming from my heart.
Something I have not really understood, though, is how to pray in a group, as they do in the church I go to — what is the attitude, the intention one should have, how do I align myself with the person who is praying aloud? Do I silently repeat the words they say, in my head? Do I mentally and with my heart respond, “Yes, yes, yes, yes…”? Sometimes I felt like I was pretty much saying to God, “What she said,” and I felt like I just wasn’t getting it. I wasn’t feeling satisfied with the experience I was having, wasn’t feeling linked up.
Tonight, after choir practice ended (with closing prayer), I was pondering this question and something came into my mind which helped me to connect with the practice. When praying as part of a group, being led in prayer, the person can join with the circle — truly become part of it. Become no longer the individual self. Then the circle or the gathering becomes as one body, praying with the voice of the person leading as the voice of the body itself. It came to me that the more I can feel the reality of being part of one body, united on a deep level in the act of prayer, the more I (or anyone) can touch the edge of the experience of the elimination of the illusion of separate selves. It is an opportunity to communicate with God as a larger, many- souled being. That kind of blew my mind when I stopped to think about it — the idea of a many-souled being, and being a part of that.
So that’s the way I found in to group prayer, and it resonated with me as a way to express myself in prayer with God in a way that is right for me. I offer it in case it resonates with anyone else in a helpful way — just a different take that turned my head as it was passing through!
Blessings and love to all, and may you all have an ever-deepening and ever-evolving relationship with Spirit!