I chose yesterday’s quote because it reminded me of something that I’d been thinking of lately. Just when I’m sure that I know what I’m talking about, and that my thoughts are based on reasonably well considered opinions, something else clicks in my brain and I realise that I actually had no earthly idea what I was talking about.
Take prayer, for example. I’ve struggled with this (to me) amorphous idea a lot. I’m sure that I’ve misrepresented it and been judgemental, and I finally came to the conclusion that it there was some thing about it that was never going to work ( there’s a Douglas Adams quote about my brain being ‘too highly evolved that would fit perfectly here but I can’t find it).
My difficulty in grasping the concept came not from the concept itself, but from my own fallible understanding.
Which is always the case, isn’t it?
For me, the idea of prayer being ‘talking to God’ was really, really unhelpful. Clearly it works for many people, and my first problem lay in the fact that, because it works for many people, I assumed that that was the only way that it worked.
One thing I’m learning though is that this whole religion shebang actually has to be personalised for each of us individually, and we won’t realise how we fit within it until we get well and truly immersed.
As I said in this post, just chattering away does absolutely nothing for me. There’s no connection. I feel silly and self conscious and about as far away from God as it’s possible to get without actually killing a goat on a pentagram.
The phrase ‘prayerfully consider’ gets bandied around a lot but it left me cold. If prayer is talking to God, then being ‘prayerful’ about problems must involve something along the lines of ‘so God, this issue is really causing me stress ( detail issues for God) so if you could just fix it up for me, that would be awesome, Ta’. *
It’s naive and simplistic but that was the way I thought that it went, and because that didn’t resonate with me AT ALL, then I assumed that the whole prayer thing was bunk.
Yes yes, I know….
But, as I said, I’ve realise that the problem came not with prayer, but with my trying to fit ‘prayer’ into a prefabricated box.
And recently there had been a dawning of awareness as to what it actually is to me.
It’s as if I need to find a place to ‘meet’ God. Vacuum, make a pot of tea, bake some (vegan) bikkies and light a candle. Then, when it feels that I’ve got my house in order and stilled myself, then God will ensure that I can focus. If I can’t bother to make an effort, then he’s not going to show up.
It’s not about talking. It’s about bringing thoughts or questions or issues into the stillness. Bringing them into the stillness, letting them just ‘be’ for a while and then…..releasing them, I guess. Letting them take their own forms and evolve over the next few days. To percolate. When they come back to me, when ever that may be, they seem to have become something more. A new perspective has been introduced or a new facet explored without any seeming effort on my part.
Could this be viewed from a purely materialistic viewpoint? Of course it could. And even though I have progressed quite a way along the faith continuum, my ‘go to’ explanation usually comes from this materialistic viewpoint. The human brain is an incredible thing and we don’t fully understand what it is capable of. So of course there’s the perfectly rational explanation that if you leave it with an idea then the brain will mull it over for a while and spit out an answer. That’s what we do while we dream, after all.
How is this prayer situation different? I actually don’t know. That is to say, I haven’t had a good think about it yet. And if I haven’t explored some thing enough to satisfy my self, then ‘ I don’t know’ has to be my best answer.
How do you pray? Am I special and important or is this the usual way at it’s done and I’ve just been too dense to realise it this whole time?
*people probably don’t do this.