Amidst stress, chaos and the uncertainty of late, I've watched and listened to those around me react to life, politics, family, future. Often times I'll tell someone that they are in my thoughts and prayers. It's a powerful statement, I believe. Telling someone that you intentionally pray for them, as I learned from my father, holds special meaning.
My Dad, a retired Methodist Minister, has a strict ritual of intentionally praying each day for a list of people/persons he keeps written in the back of his journal. It is a list of family, extended family, colleagues, politicians, our Armed Services, etc. I have heard him on many occasion, look someone in the eye and say, I prayed intentionally for you this morning. How powerful is that? Not all of us have that discipline. Not all of us have that spirituality. But, I encourage you - whether you are religious, agnostic, pagan or otherwise - to think about prayer as not a religious act but as an action of conscious thought.
I remember reading something a long time ago that stayed with me. The concept of the article was that prayer is a type of thought, a lot like meditation. It explained it as a type of very concentrated mental focus with passionate emotion directed towards a concept, person or situation. The author of the story was explaining prayer as he shared a story about someone who did not pray or particularly believe in the power of prayer. This particular friend's brother was in the hospital dying and his grandmother asked him to pray for his brother. He felt guilty that he could not do that for his brother and so the author encouraged him with these words -
"I want you to pray for your brother right now. As a gesture to your grandmother - who, if she didn't exist, neither would you. I want you to pray right now, just for the sake of challenging yourself. I want you to find a place alone, and kneel down - against all your stubborn tendencies telling you not to - and close your eyes and think of one concentrated thought: your brother.
I want you to think of your love for him. Your fear of him dying. Your feelings of anger and frustration. Your feelings of confusion. You don't need to ask to get anything. You don't need to try and fix anything. You don't need to get any answers. Just focus on every moment you've ever had with your brother. Reflect on every memory, from years ago, and even from just earlier today. Let the feelings wash over you. Let the feelings take you away from yourself. Let them bring you closer to him. Let yourself be overwhelmed by the unyielding and uncompromising emotion of him until you lose yourself in it.
Think about him more than you've ever thought about anyone before. Think about him more deeply and with more detail than you've ever thought about anything. Think about how incredible it is that you have a brother - that he exists at all. Focus on him until you feel like your soul is going to burst. Tell him in your heart and soul that you love him. Feel that love pouring out of you from all sides. Then get up and go be with your family. And you can tell your grandmother that you prayed for your brother." - author unknown
I have to challenge myself every day with my own conscious thoughts. I don't have the discipline that my father holds. But, I can choose my thoughts and my words. I can encourage rather than criticize. And, I can love rather than hate. In the end, isn't that what it's all about? Love, Sara