What is Prayer

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This seems like the easiest question – what is prayer?  Typical answers range from “talking to God” to “asking for what I need” to “saying praises and thanks”.  These responses are rooted in an understanding of a separate and external God with whom there is a transaction.  However, the mystics of both eastern and western traditions across all religions have realized that God is not separate from us but is in the very fabric of everything that exists.  The truth of that is so profound that some ideologies shy away from acknowledging a God because of all of connotations and assignments other religions have made.  Also, they may use other terms like Shiva, Cosmic Intelligence, Oneness or simply The Truth.

The Buddha famously remained silent to the question, “is there a God?”  In that silence, the answer is contained.  For in the deepest unmanifest stillness, God is.  And in the most exuberant expression of life, God is.  When we realize that God simply is, and all existence is simply this “isness” then there is no answer to the question.  It dissolves into itself and there is silence.

So then again, what is prayer?  When all is Oneness, where is there a transaction?  When all that is, is only in this moment now, where is that somewhere to go to find God?

Now we are beginning to see that prayer is simply a beingness with God.  It’s simply a residency in Truth.  It doesn’t happen just in church, before the meal, right before bed, or when it hurts.  It is in every breath.  It’s not something you do, it’s something you are.

When we are in perfect synchrony with life, we are in prayer no matter what the activity.  There is an echo of that in Saint Teresa of Avila’s words “Prayer is an act of love.  Words are not needed.”  We are aligned and open to the emergence of the moment, without grasping or entanglements.  There is a purity and loving awareness.  Even in the face of pain, there is a sweetness and joyfulness.  Love pours from the heart.  Each breath is felt as an affirmation of life.

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