Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Power of Prayer|
Posted: February 19th. 2000
Times Viewed: 5,799
I have been thinking a lot about prayer lately. What it means, how it works, is there "good" and "bad" prayer, anddo Pagans pray?
This topic has been on my mind due to having recently started and left a job, one of the reasonsamong many more serious oneswas my new boss's daily comment as he left for noonday mass that he would be "pray for you heathens". No, he was not aware of my personal beliefs, and yes, it was said in jest (everyday for two weeks), I was ready to scream after a week, his insensitivity to the fact that his employees may hold non-Christian beliefs and that his joking mocked them was amazing. And it lead me to consider prayer.
What is prayer? Webster's dictionary says "1)a) (1) an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought (2) a set order of words used in praying b) an earnest request or wish. 2) the act or practice of praying to God or a god"
My understanding of prayer fits this definition and goes beyond it. There is that wonderful moment when a breath taking vista of undiscovered beauty opens before you on a hike when thoughts of praise and thanks fly out to the Goddess even before I am conscious of doing so. There is the discipline of focusing my mind and spirit as I write new rituals for our coven, silently seeking guidance as I work. Then there is the not so silent prayer for patience as I negoiate rush hour traffic. And the sharing of energy as the coven raises power in ritual and celebration. As you can see, for me, there are many types of prayer, many moments of prayerfullness, ranging from serious to humor filled, all of them a means of connecting with the God and the Goddess in my daily life.
So, do Pagans pray? I do, all of my coven does, but do we all think of it as prayer? The word pray and the concept of "I'll pray for you" have become so connected to Christianity for many of us that we shy away from using the term. Instead we speak of meditating, channeling energy, focusing our thoughts, celebrating. I believe it is all prayer. And I find myself needing to be reminded that my own prejudices against Christianity often color my idea of prayer. I need to remind myself that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses are one Goddesses and God and Goddess are one. Each person finds their own path to the same center.
Does prayer work? This question is the same as "do spells work?" Perhaps the answer we seek isn't the one we get, but the one we need to learn and grow. The literal answer may seem to be no, however, connecting with the God and the Goddess in whatever aspect works for you is empowering, revitalizing, and grounding. The positive here says "yes, prayer works" at least to me. The ways and means of the God and the Goddess are mysteries, the wheel of life turns in ways that we can not anticipate or control. Prayer helps me to be actively in tune with the energy of life, it helps me ground when the unexpected happens, it aids me in making decisions like - should I quit a job I just started because the boss makes me so uncomfortable. I don't always find patience when facing that rush hour traffic but I focus on my need to develop patience and I am moving forward (at least spiritually).
Finally - is there "good" and "bad" prayer? Yes. Just as there are good and bad spells. I have many friends of many different religous backgrounds, some who know of my beliefs, some who don't. Most likely this is typical of many Pagans and Wiccans. One of the priests at the University where I was doing my Masters told me he would pray for me as I faced the final deadline and the oral defense for my thesis. This is an example of a "good" prayer. He was sending me much needed energy in a time of stress. We may disagree about the aspect of the God we worship, but the caring and compassion of that act made my day and helped lift some of the stress off my shoulders.
The same is true when friends told me I was in their prayers as I went home to help my mother pack up my uncle's apartment after his death. These acts of prayer for me were ways these people expressed their love and support. Some where Christian, one Buddist friend flew a prayer flag for me at her temple, some of these prayers were pagan, all of them were based on an act of love. This is much the same as when I sent energy to one of my coven as she lead us in ritual for the first time. These are good prayers.
So what is bad prayer? You can probably guess where I am heading with this.
To me bad prayer is when the intent is to change or fix the person being prayed for. When fundamentalists tell me they will pray for my soul it feels like an attack on my soul. These kinds of prayers aren't honoring me as a human being, they are not offered in love (at least not in what I consider a reasonable definition of love). They are manipulative and controling. I relate prayer like this to casting a spell without someone's consent. Trying to force an individual to behave differently. This kind of prayer is often used as a threat - "I will pray that you find the light and be saved from the torments of hell to which you are surely headed." My translation - "I want you to abandon your uniqueness and connection with the divine because it does not match mine and I feel it is a threat to my world and therefore evil, not just different. If you don't change you will suffer" also can be translated as "I'll have my god beat up your god!" This is the type of prayer that makes Pagans reluctant to use the word prayer. This is the kind of prayer I could do without.
As I search for a new job I will pray for guidance and success. I will focus my energy on clarifying my goals and working toward achieving them. I will acknowledge that what the Goddess and the God may bring into my life may not be exactly what I ask for but I will search to find what I can learn from it. I will pray thanks for the beauty of the world, the love of my husband, the power of my coven, and I will continue to pray for patience in traffic.
(Note: I wrote this in the fall, much has happened since - I found a new job, that, while it is not the final goal, is a good place where I can work and be appreciated, even be open about my beliefs. We just concluded our Yule celebration which was filled with a lot of joyful prayer and laughter and are all ready to plunge into the new year. The sun is shining (a fabulous event for Oregon at this time of year!) and it has helped make this Yule a real experience around the return of light. Oh, I am still searching for patience with rush hour traffic - which will be solved when my office moves to within biking distance of my house next month!
Location: , USA
Bio: I have been a solitary eclectic for a number of years and last Beltane with my husband and two good friends formed a small coven. Since that time my focus and beliefs have grown and my studies of Wicca have helped me evaluate how I live in this world. I am a theatre director and just finished my Masters in Fine Arts. My husband Kian and I live in Portland with our three cats, Mabel, Azure and Mephisto.
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