Sideways Shahrukh Post: Do You Believe in Prayer?

Here we are, on the other side of the world, unable to do anything in real terms for a person we care about and a situation with is a grave injustice. And this is bringing up a question for me, do you believe in prayer? Whatever “prayer” means to you?

For me, I believe in prayer because I believe in what it does for the person praying, not necessarily the person being prayed for. I believe that the process of focusing your thoughts on a particular situation and lifting them up to the sky does help your feelings for the situation, even if it doesn’t help what is happening necessarily. It’s not the same as meditating on a problem, it’s a sort of mental emotional lift and let go. That, to me, is prayer. When you feel all the things, when you let it all bubble up within you, and then hand it off to something else.

When my prayers have been answered, that is, when I have lifted up my problems to a higher power and asked for help and then that help has come, I take it as a sign that someone is hearing me. When they are not answered, when the bad thing still happens, I take it as a sign that someone heard me but still couldn’t help for reasons beyond my understanding. I feel gratitude, but not anger, does that make sense? If I felt anger, I would stop praying. Once prayer becomes a demand, becomes something that instills resentment instead of peace, it has no more purpose.

Right now I am praying hard for Shahrukh Khan and Aryan Khan, every minute of the day. I am trying to take this big thing that is beyond me, that I have no control over, and hand it off, let it go. Anything else is too damaging for me, does that make sense? I can’t just do NOTHING, but I also can’t really do something. That is what prayer is for, that moment when there is nothing for you to do and yet you can’t truly do nothing and stay sane.

My definition of prayer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be theistic to pray, you have to have a clear defined idea of the high power you are praying too. I believe someone can pray to nature, to the sun, to the joined power of humanity, to the concept of Love, to the concept of Justice. Anything that is greater than yourself, anything that is greater than a single individual alone. You just have to know that there is something, anything, that is greater than one person and you can hand off your problems to that thing.

For myself, my concept of a Higher Power has always been a sort of warm mushy feeling of love and logic and peace. There is something up there that goes “Hey Margaret, I know you, I love you”. And all I have to do is close my eyes and think of that mushy warm feeling and say “I’m having a really hard time today, this bad thing is happening, I need you to take responsibility for fixing it because I can’t fix it on my own”.

I am curious, among the DCIB people, how do you think of prayer? Do you have a formal practice, is it something that doesn’t resonate for you at all, or is it closer to my idea of just sort of lifting things up and letting them go?

10 thoughts on “Sideways Shahrukh Post: Do You Believe in Prayer?

  1. Oh Margaret, this post makes me happy so happy. The fact that you trust this community enough to even venture into religious topics, that feels very special. Kind of restores my faith in humanity.

    And your faith in a higher power is just the kind I’d like to have. That warm mushy feeling is very much like the concept of a Good God that still resonates with me from my days at a catholic primary school , but that I can’t really believe in anymore. And even then, we weren’t really taught to pray. I know thee Lord’s Prayer and one traditional verse for bedtime, and that’s it. Much less free-form prayer.

    Nowadays, the closest I come to praying – or any religious experience, really – is in those rare moments when I’m just overwhelmed by the beauty off the world. I get this feeling of thankfulness that just wants to address itself to someone or something and that I do tend to let go of in a generally upward direction.

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    • Do you know the author Anne Lamott? She’s a wonderful author and she talks a lot about her religion. One of her books is “Help. Thanks. Wow”. Because she says that’s what prayer is, just one of those three words. I haven’t actually read that book, but just the title made me go “yes! That is how I pray!”

      It sounds like you don’t pray in the “help” category any more, but sometimes you just have to say “Wow” to some higher power.

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  2. Pretty much. I mean, if I see a disaster about to happen, I may go “Please don’t let it go that way!” in my head, but that’s just a phrase. It doesn’t have that same feeling behind it. I wouldn’t consider that prayer, even without your definition in mind.

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    • It occurs to me that the Lamott categories of prayer, “Help, Thanks, Wow”, don’t include “please”. That makes sense to me. Praying for me isn’t about saying “please make this happen”, it’s more about “give me strength to get through this thing that is happening right now”. Which also means it doesn’t necessarily matter if there is anyone listening? Like, I’m not looking for a result, the point is the practice I am doing, handing things off to something beyond myself.

      On Fri, Oct 22, 2021 at 6:18 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes certainly a prayer makes you believe , it ensures you to do the best you can do with the limited resources you have and have faith that everything will be alright at the end. It works, it really do. You must be knowing about Rishikesh in India where Ganga prayer( aarti) happens every evening, just attending that gives a lot of stability, peace and strength.

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  4. I don’t pray, BUT I have found there is a power to the Hail Mary. Perhaps it is the number of times the prayer has been said, over and over, perhaps it is the repetition, but if I change the last words it feels like a spell. Perhaps if I change the last words to “set Aryan free” it would help me. Perhaps it would help me feel like I’m doing something. Perhaps it would help abate the anger. So I’ll go pick up a kid from school and then I’ll try it!

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    • I sometimes wish I had more ancient religious practices. My family is so straight protestant that even kneeling while praying is a bit much for us. Because yes, there is a power to words that many have repeated the same way again and again.

      On Fri, Oct 22, 2021 at 4:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • look up the words online and say it over and over again. I wasn’t expecting the intensity I felt the first time I tried it, which was after my first child was born, so I was in my early thirties. I was doing it for my grandmother.

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  5. Hey there, returning after a hectically busy month, too much going on to spend time online, what do l find but this lovely post on prayer. My mother-in-law just passed, and l very much believe in the power of prayer, as connection between us and the divine, like resting in that connection. Have no idea how it works, and that doesn’t matter anyway. But when you cant help in another way, you can help with prayer. I’ve been helped both by my own prayer and by the prayer of others. It probably has something to do with consciousness, still a mystery.

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