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Automatic Prayer


WakingUp
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One of the things I'm struggling with most right now is prayer. It was such an automatic thing for me. When someone was hurt, I would immediately pray "Jesus, please help them". When I didn't have the right words for a situation, I would pray "Jesus please help me know what to do." When my head hit the pillow at night, I would immediately pray. Prayer was a huge part of my life. NOw was I just talking to myself? I fee like there is a big hole in my life. How have the rest of you dealt with prayer...rather, the lack thereof?

 

WakingUp

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One of the things I'm struggling with most right now is prayer. It was such an automatic thing for me. When someone was hurt, I would immediately pray "Jesus, please help them". When I didn't have the right words for a situation, I would pray "Jesus please help me know what to do." When my head hit the pillow at night, I would immediately pray. Prayer was a huge part of my life. NOw was I just talking to myself? I fee like there is a big hole in my life. How have the rest of you dealt with prayer...rather, the lack thereof?

 

WakingUp

 

Personally, I never received any answers to prayer. That is, I neither received an audible response from a god, nor was given the answer to my prayer by anything other than pure coincidence. The ones that were "answered" were generally stupid prayers anyway, i.e. "God, where did I put my keys? God, where did I park my car? God, please give me a parking spot close to the front door, God, gimmee gimmee." Anything that was worthwhile that I prayed for never came to be, i.e. "God, please heal this person, God, please bring an end to the war in the Persian Gulf, God, please bring peace to the world, etc". Even when I received a coincidental answer to prayer, it always felt as if I were just talking to myself. As a result, I haven't had much of a problem with dropping prayer. It was a waste of time anyway.

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The first few years of being a Christian, I used to strive to have that special prayer time, usually in the morning. I reached a point where, if I was caught up in my requests and praises, I would lose track of time. I'd look up after finishing, see that an hour or more had passed and think, "Praise God! I was sooo focused on Him that I thought of nothing else!" I now think that prayer is just used as a way to gauge oneselves spirituality. One hour? Two? Are you slipping; was it less than last week? These were things I'd look at, and see if I was being constant.

 

As I "matured" in my Christian walk, I came to recognize that simply the time spent reeling off a prayer list wasn't turning out to be the appex of devotion. I saw it could turn into pride of how long I prayed, and leading to this measurement being equated to how spiritual I was. So then I picked up on the idea of prayer as part of your very being, something you fall into naturally all day long. So, other than a quick morning prayer of basic praise, I moved into small, numerous prayers through out the day. Any time something came up, whether a problem or a "blessing", I prayed for help or gave thanks. If someones name was mentioned, I might offer a prayer for them. If I read of a situation in the newspaper or heard a report on the radio, I'd pray for whatever was going on. But I eventually saw that this, too, wasn't the appex of devotion. I again would catch myself looking with pride on how I was thinking of God all day, and remembering to talk to Him continuously.

 

I then realized that prayer is more for the one praying, not for any God one may believe in. It gives you the sense that you are connected to some being, even if you never hear any identifiable answer from them. Oh, you will search for that answer, and read it into everything that comes your way. But all of those happenings that you label as communication from God could also be seen as just the workings of circumstance.

 

Presently, I don't pray at all. I do hang on to a bit of irrationality by believing in "God" or some type of ultimate, universal force; yet I see it as an impersonal entity and thus, it's useless to ply with pleas for help, praise for blessings, or bitchings over problems (which, if Christians were honest, is what a lot of prayer consists of!). In your own language, Waking Up, I saw that I was talking to myself. I suppose my moving from active, timed prayer into a more passive, constant prayer during my time as a Christian helped with this transition to non-praying. Now, in those situations where before I used to pray, I examine them to see if there is any way I might be of help, or need to do something to change or work on a problem, etc. I take responsibility for what I can do, and not dump it on some all-powerful being.

 

Waking Up, whether you want to continue with some type of prayer, or communication with God/force/deity/whatever is all going to hinge on what beliefs you follow now. Do you believe in such a object? If so, what are your views on it? Personal or impersonal? Active or passive? As I said earlier, prayer is more for you than for any higher being. What does it do for you? Does it give you feelings of connectedness? Power? Or does it make you feel helpless, controlled, dependent? Does it serve a purpose in your life? Answering these questions will help you to determine whether or not you wish to continue with this practice.

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I suffered from that for awhile. For years I was in the habit of saying a silent prayer every time I heard the wailing of an ambulance or fire truck, or whenever I drove by a car accident on the highway. Even now, whenever I hear an ambulance, I want to say a prayer, to help those who are hurt…but I stop myself because what’s the point? I’d just be talking to myself. So now I just remember that the medics are professionals and they’re doing their jobs, saving the lives of those who are hurt.

 

I guess that's all we can do. To not worry and let everything be. Or act, not “pray”...do something about the problem if the opportunity presents itself, instead of merely praying.

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Hey WakingUp, I think you might try and cut yourself some slack. You went all that time developing a habit of prayer. It may take you saome time to get over it. So maybe you catch yourself praying on occassion, big deal.

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Yeah, I have the same habit. Ex-Cog's comments definitely rang true. You just find yourself addressing God over anything that comes up. I guess I still find some kind of comfort in it. Maybe if God is there and he can hear me he'll do something. But then if he doesn't, well it doesn't really matter. It seems to help me think clearly anyway.

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