“Praying hands” | Photo by Esther Gibbons via Creative Commons
What you are about to read is not a “doctrine” or a prescription of how to pray or a critique of which prayer is effective. It’s a non-sectarian, layman’s perspective on the subject. Although prayer is universal and an important part of all major world religions, one does not have to be religious or belong to a religion to pray. In my opinion, any prayer is good because it elevates human consciousness towards the divine or to God or to whatever name you call the Higher Power.
My Uncle Ando was the first person who showed me how one can live a life of prayer. He was not a religious man in a conventional sense like someone who would go to church regularly. He was a spiritual man in his own way. He was also a man of physical prowess, good looks, compassion, and kindness. A recluse, he chose not to marry, lived alone, fished, and cultivated the land for food. For him prayer was a way of life; it permeated his work, relationships, and daily routine. He fashioned simple things of practical use out of scraps, and always did it with patience and focused attention. If he weren’t busy with mundane things, he spent his time praying and reading his prayer books, which he guarded closely from prying eyes.
“Prayers come in the form of hymns, psalms, songs, verses, or mantras. The elements of prayers, their forms, and how we use them in worship are incredibly old traditions that go back to the dawn of human consciousness.”
All prayers have the following elements, petition, or intention – usually a request, as in prayers for the peaceful repose of a departed; affirmation – a declaration or confirmation, as in the “mantra” “I am Thou” or “God is great!” invocation – to summon, as in prayers for angels or devas or other beings for miraculous intervention; and adoration – giving glory, devotion, or praise, as in many of the hymns like the famous Gregorian chants. Some prayers are largely one or the other or a combination of different elements. Then there is how the prayer is performed: chanting, incantation, recitation, contemplation, or conversation (with God or Higher Being).
“Whether one believes in the esoteric or hidden principles that imbue some forms of prayers, it is hard to deny that the act of performing them can be mind-expanding or transforming.”
No one form can be considered superior over the others because the prayer’s quality depends on the person performing the prayer. Prayers come in the form of hymns, psalms, songs, verses, or mantras. The elements of prayers, their forms, and how we use them in worship are ancient traditions that go back to the dawn of human consciousness.
There is always a ritual that comes with performing a prayer, some simple and others elaborate. Prayers are as old as the time of the ascent of human consciousness. That’s probably why the rituals are highly developed. No matter how one prays the very act transports him into the realm of the spiritual, a transcendent experience that elevates the human mind.
Simply, prayer is a form of worship to God or a Higher Being or a declaration of Truth. It must be a conscious process and the elements of human volition and will must be involved in the act of prayer.
Whether one believes in the esoteric or hidden principles that imbue some forms of prayers, it is hard to deny that the act of performing them can be mind-expanding or transforming. In some instances, praying can be a gateway to a higher level of consciousness, a prelude to contemplation or meditation where the mind soaks in a blissful state of pure emptiness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at email@example.com.