thinking about prayer

Lately I've been thinking a lot about prayer... What it is. What it means. How to do it. etc.

I listened to an SOF podcast where Seane Corn talks about yoga being a "body prayer", and I liked that idea because oftentimes that's what it feels like to me when I do yoga. Like the movement and breath creates a stillness that's akin to prayer.

I'm not sure where, but I also heard a phrase that went something like this: "prayer is talking to god. meditation is listening." And I liked that, too.

And I've even run across articles and podcasts that talk about scientists who are trying to measure prayer as a form of alternative healing (much like acupuncture, massage, etc).

So all this has me thinking about prayer...

Questions have been popping up:

- Do you pray?

- Is prayer communing and listening to the divine/god/love?

- Or is prayer usually just asking for something?

- What does prayer mean to you?

- Do you think people pray more in times of need/pain than in others? Why?

For me personally, prayer has changed. I used to ask for things in prayer. Specifically outcomes that I wanted to see happen. For example: "Please send sun for the cookout on Sunday." But I've started to realize that these personal prayer requests might actually be kind of selfish. What if rain was desperately needed for a farmer's crops? Or if a storm was required to get pollen counts down to a reasonable level? I don't know. Maybe by praying for sun I was asking for a global disaster? (I'm being silly.)

So then I started to consider that old prayer "thy will be done". You know the one. But when reasoning through that I thought: well, "thy will" will be done regardless. It's like praying for whatever will be, to be... which is kind of unnecessary, don't you think? "Hey god/divine/love... do whatever you want. I'm cool with it." That seems ridiculous and egotistical to me.

So how does it make the most sense to pray? I've been thinking that maybe prayer should be more about asking for understanding or clarity on why thy will needs to be done. Or maybe just a prayer for acceptance. In a more serious scenario: asking for acceptance about a family member's recent alzheimer's diagnosis.

And when prayer doesn't include requests or needs... maybe prayer is more about stating gratitude. Holding up your joy to look at. And about getting still and quiet, just like meditation. Centering on that. Maybe prayer is just being aware of and in contact with the divine in thought throughout the day. Sharing the personal and the micro with the impersonal and the macro.