I used to have a hard time with the word "prayer." It always seemed that you had to pray to something - a God on High, generally. Indeed, everything about the word confirms my impression.
Prayer stems from the Latin word precor, meaning to ask, beg, entreat, supplicate, request, call upon, beseech, or sue. Looking to more contemporary references, prayer is defined as "a devout petition to God or an object of worship." Wikipedia says, "Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication." In biblical terms, to pray is "to converse with God; not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to him."
Even though I don't believe in a God on High (He, She or otherwise), nor any one deity or "object of worship," I've made my peace with the word. Why?
The other day, in a post about Reiki healing, I wrote about the quantum physics theory of non-locality: that time and space are intertwined and matter and energy are but two sides of one coin. Though the idea of fundamental interconnectedness may be breaking news in the modern world, mystics and shamans have known this truth for ages. It reminds me of this beautiful line by the 13th century poet Rumi:
Every forest branch moves differently
in the breeze, but as they sway,
they connect at the roots.
As humans, we do a pretty good job of maintaining our separateness, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Why is it easier to chalk things up to serendipity, coincidence or chance than to believe we might all be in this together, more deeply connected that we can even imagine?
When we greet one another with the Namaste gesture, our hands together in front of our heart as we bow, we acknowledge our connection; the same essence dwelling in each and every one of us. Whether it's mysticism or quantum physics, I pray with the assumption that separateness is the illusion.
Prayers are intentions (energy) with the power to manifest (matter) in the physical world. So when I pray, I don't have to ask, supplicate, beseech or petition to something outside myself. I simply pray to the place where you and I, are One.
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.