Prayer is most often seen as a time set aside in quiet with one’s self. Depending on tradition there are various types of prayer ranging from expressing gratitude, loving-kindness, to simply the prayer of quiet. It doesn’t take long to notice that aspects of this time alone begin to permeate the rest of our lives. Similar to while sitting on the beach, our clothes smell of sand and salt even after we have left the ocean behind. There is a part of life we don’t often see as a prayer, but a conversation with an old friend brought me into question of where I had drawn the line between prayer and everyday life.
I personally do not formally pray in the way I would conceive as normal. It’s been years since I’ve hit my knees and folded my hands, mostly because it just never really worked out for me in that way. The lack of response was apparent even since childhood, and that was something I’d had to come to terms with. It was eventually deduced, by me, that if anything were to happen in this life it would not depend on who I thought God was. This is not to put forth my own belief as fact. Rather, it is to appeal to those that hear the word prayer and are skeptical and express how I can relate. I would presume the reasons they minutely avert prayer is the same why I quit the practice as a child. The problem for me lied in the way I envisioned it. Namely as a direct telephone line to the master of the universe, in which the line had seemingly been cut.
On to prayer through action. Typically an unconscious act, it’s not necessarily we’re not aware that we do it. It’s just we don’t define it as prayer. Have you ever simply wondered about something, and required another person you hadn’t met yet in order to learn more? Or looked back and seen that there are certain processes that you’ve done which have drastically changed your life for the better? The initial actions of these turning points in a way are requests for more in a new direction. We acknowledge that we have to meet life half-way. It is unconscious by means that this “half-way” we give, is merely our every day life, and nothing special. It is only in hind-sight that we realize there was another half also working with us which we did not take part in. Which is what makes it special.
Typically we take our own actions to be rather ordinary and of necessity rather than anything special. But sometimes it is apparent that actions in the past have provided and nurtured the soil to culminate in events that happen today, and in a big way. In Alcoholics Anonymous for example, adults are practically newborns who don’t know how to live. They’re retaking baby steps in a new life where death lies in every bar and in the presence of many old acquaintances. The key to the actions in this new way of living being seen as prayer is the aspect of the desire or necessity for something which is currently outside ourselves. The people we meet and relationships we develop in new phases of life are paramount in determining our level of nourishment and speed of growth. As we grow we become interested in new things and new people we may not have given the time of day in the past.
The iconic spiritual journey is at times portrayed as a path up a mountain. Along the path there are individuals who act as teachers to advise us for the obstacles that lie ahead until we meet the next guide. There are times we meet a seeming dead end and we’re sure that we have taken a wrong turn, but it’s important to entertain the idea that there are no wrong turns in life. Likely it is at these times that it is necessary to try something new, make a new friend, because we are at our next destination and require guidance to move onward. If we become complacent and continue with the mentality of the last path, we will not progress along the next one.
It is psychologically healthy for us to live life as if whatever problem we think we currently have will work out in the end. Living life in an optimistic way provides a more open mind to notice opportunities. This is not to promote a blind faith where people leave their houses unlocked. It is more to advise the mentality that we have the tools necessary in our box to build whatever it is we want to progress toward. Leaving things unlocked to demonstrate a faith that God will protect you is the same as throwing out your hammer in the middle of a construction project. You may not have all the tools you need for the current project and that’s alright. There are other people in the world with similar goals and interests. The difficulty lies in the fact that everyone has different tools and it’s necessary to work together.