On Prayer and Getting Answers To Prayer: A Hopefully Encouraging Response To Another’s Questions about the Efficacy of Prayer

I see prayer as intentionally engaging our conscious mind with our highest values. In prayer, I’m reminded of the things that matter most–not only for myself, but for others. By aspiring to focus my mind and heart on these things, I become more open to the possibilities I can wisely (hopefully) choose to make life more meaningful, purposeful, or beautiful.

I generally don’t do petitionary prayer unless it is for others, or for ways I can be a better person. I don’t pray to get things, or have my life changed for me in a way that takes away my cooperation. Rather I pray so as to encourage my efforts at doing what I can to bring about the person I should be — regardless of the outcomes.

Thus, I see my prayers answered not when events happen beyond my control and participation, but when I live closer to the values and virtues for which I try to emulate. While I may pray “as if” I’m listening and speaking with a being outside myself, I do this as a construct to aid my processing of the realities by which I want to foment.

I trust that the divine resides within each one of us, and so connecting and relating to that sacred image within us nurtures us to connect and relate to that sacred image within others. Prayer reminds me that we are all siblings, and that my prayers should never be about what profits me or my friends or loved ones at the expense of others. Thus, I don’t ever pray for what I may want if it doesn’t coincide with what we all need. Prayer encourages me to see how my reality is intertwined with that of others.

Of the things I pray about for us all, they are things like peace, compassion, justice, loving-kindness, empathetic joy and happiness, reduced suffering/pain, etc. Wherever I witness these things in the world, I am grateful. I don’t presume, however, that my prayers or perseverance in praying, had any determination on how things transpired. Prayer is not about convincing or changing the mind of a deity, but transforming my own spirit; and, ideally, positively influencing others to transform their own.

And while I’m not a believer in karma or the law of attraction, I think that in striving to live up to the sacred within us, we prod our social realities to be more harmonious and invigorate our own spiritual reality by our efforts in praying and living in accordance to the values we cherish. Reality still may not turn out as we had hoped for, but at least we have the satisfaction in knowing we tried our best to make our world a little better place and our relationships healhier.

— Rev. Bret S. Myers, 2/6/2018

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