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The Forgotten Art of Prayer

by Bea Venzuela

When we hear the word prayer, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A traditional act we do within the confines of a Church? The rosary we get to pray at day’s end? Weekly Sunday online gatherings at our Local Church? In these ways, we see how prayer had become a concept limited to societal tradition.

 

But we are forgetting how prayer can be made personal. How simple and profound of a practice it is to integrate into our daily lives.

 

Apart from the above reasons, several trends have also emerged that seemed to have taken our attention away from this sacred practice. Prayer has been part of our culture for as long as we can remember. But nowadays, we’ve come to hear practices such as mindfulness, meditation, daily journaling, self-healing, yoga as well as podcasting that many millennials like to dip their toes into these days. This is not to say that one modality is better than others. But nowadays, we have all this information. All these different tools and self-help. With these developments, we can see why prayer had seemingly been forgotten. 


We see that we are constantly trying to improve ourselves through new-age, scientifically-proven and benefitting techniques that enhance our day-to-day lives. But while we can get so engrossed in the doing, while we can get so involved in our own self-improvement, and as we are continuing to optimize the human experience - we sometimes forget that there is a greater Being guiding us beyond our day-to-day worries.

 

“Prayer has been constantly redefined, but at its essence, prayer is simply a conversation.”

Rey Sandoval, Rise Church

 

While we can be in the thick of our day-to-day stresses and feel like it is all in our hands, there is Someone there on the other side always ready and open to receive us. When we focus upon the mundanities of our day-to-day living: Watering our plants in the morning; Feeling the vitality of our own breath post-workout; Having that fresh brew in the morning from delicious coffee beans. How have all these beautiful creations come into our daily lives? There is truly Someone who’s lived and breathed life into it all and into us all. Someone who is the Creator.

 

Someone who LOVES us unconditionally. Someone who is forgiving beyond measure. And that Someone is GOD.

 

The essence of prayer as a conversation simply points to our communication with God. Prayer had seemingly been forgotten. As a practice that’s existed for millennia, it’s important to redefine what it means to us in the present. Prayer is something that roots us back to our beginnings. While we are in the thick of life, remembering that we are guided by a higher Being takes us beyond ourselves and roots us back to where we came from. Prayer has quite the history. The act of prayer has been found in early written sources that date back as much as 5000 years ago. In the Christian world, evidence of prayer has been cited in the Book of Matthew 6:9-13 and in the Book of Luke 11:2-4. At the same time, prayer brings us back into the present moment. When we are in the quicksand of the daily grind, who is that Friend we want to speak with throughout the day? The simplicity and profundity of it is both grounding and refreshing as a daily practice. Prayer is the day's end worth of journaling. A practice that goes beyond pen and paper.

Illustrated by Denisse Co 

 

Prayer means something personal and precious to each of us. Prayer is communicating with God. It is our acknowledgement of connection to the divine Source. A direct “hotline” to the Creator. Our affirmation of Oneness with the divine energy of love. Prayer is building and deepening our relationship with God.

 

Prayer is important, powerful, and a gift we shouldn’t take for granted. The gift of prayer is there so we can offer and surrender our troubles, requests, and desires. After all, prayer is just like talking to a friend. A two-way street. Prayer is ideal alone in a room. It's that time with you and God. An intimacy that can be compared to a relationship with a husband and wife. A best friend or family. God is always with us and us with God. We can be in a noisy mall, walking through a city, or a park full of kids. But it's important to know that it’s all an ongoing conversation.

 

Prayer can be said out loud. It can be sung in songs of worship and declared to the skies. But sometimes prayer can be in silence. Stillness allows us to listen. Prayer is also a deep introspection. It enhances our self-awareness. It has the capacity to bring us front and center with how we feel.

 

Talking to God can also feel like you're talking to your own therapist. You can talk to God when you're feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, or down. With prayer, you can talk and pray about everything. It is about lifting it all up to God. Prayer is merging with the divine in deep conversation. It is beholding the sacredness of life. Expressing this inherent gratitude that’s in each of us. But most of all: Prayer doesn’t have a formula. How can limitations such as set ways or chosen words be the right way to connect with the God of the universe?

 

Featured photo is illustrated by Gen Chan.