I rarely have the occasion to pray, I' m more of a gratitude person, but illness and unhappiness had me calling on my favorite female deities several times over the last week or so. The first time was to ask for a good outcome for a critically ill family member. Ok, that was simple enough, no harm done. Then another situation arose that made me feel pushed to the edge, so another prayer passed my heart. And then today as I worried about another's welfare I began to pray again and a darkness gripped my soul sending me to my mala instead.
You see prayer can have many facets...you can give thanks for the abundance in your life. You can celebrate a great event. You can sit in quiet contentment or send good thoughts to those who need them. But the most common type of prayer is to ask for help like my prayer for health for my family member, or for help with things we need. These and all prayers are valid, but the darkness that alarmed me was the tone of my prayers. Asking for something implies lack. Focusing on lack will only create more lack and that was the creeping feeling that I experienced with that last prayer. Fear and desperation can tend to color prayers filled with asking. I went away from the asking prayer to my beads because I use affirming mantras. To ground myself I used counting and then changed my focus with the mantra: I am blessed and he is blessed.
I have heard that praying for others is a tricky business...you never really know what outcome would be most beneficial for someone else. Sending positive energy and well wishes seem ok to me. That is what my prayer for my family member consisted of, but some situations, especially those of a more chronic nature that seem to resist change can bring up desperate feelings of unmet needs accompanied by fear. In fact fear is often the over-riding emotion accompanying feelings of lack. Thus the prayer becomes more akin to pleading which only reminds and reinforces our belief that something is occurring that we do not want or is out of our control. Feelings of helplessness are some of the most debilitating thoughts we can have.
Positive projection is a much more effective way to "pray". Affirming in the present tense tells our psyche that the object of our goal is already manifest...we just need to reach out to grab it. This is not to say that -snap- things are instantly better! But we know that we are aligned to see possibilities that will take us where we need to grow and go. This is a proactive state which is much healthier for our well being. To assist others, wishes for the best possible outcome leave room for the unknown- their desires or other factors at play.
Prayers have been used by regularly by humanity throughout all of human history. Celebratory, grateful or used in times of need, they have seen us through some very dark times. Prayers can be very powerful so my advice is to use them carefully. Be mindful of the tone and words you use. Go for a positive projection statement of the outcome you desire, rather then asking. Affirming that "all is well" or "I am safe" can be comforting in times of distress. Be general or open ended when asking the great deities of your life for help, after all they are wise and benevolent. And believe- your prayers will be answered, your affirmations will manifest. Staying positive in your heart and mind is the most powerful prayer there is.