Prayer: Spiritual or Self-Serving?

Lord, please hear my prayer! Copyright 2008 by Blair Atherton

Lord, please hear my prayer!
Copyright 2008 by Blair Atherton

Prayer, for most of us, is the primary means by which we communicate with God. The question is: what should we be saying when “speaking” with Him?

It seems that many who pray use it mostly to ask for things they want, even though God has already provided what they need. This is in keeping with the self-centered, materialistic mind-set of society today.

Why should one ask for more than they need when there are so many around the world who are barely able to scratch out the most basic existence? To ask for more when we already have enough, may be offensive to God. He has a life plan for each of us and He will provide precisely what we need to support that life plan and the service to which we have been called.

I question the value of saying prayers prescribed by a religion in a long chain over and over again. The repetitive nature of this form of prayer can quickly make the process one of a mindless drone. If the first repetition was said from the heart with sincere and conscious intent, then enough said.

Saying the same prayer again and again is not likely to give it greater force. In fact, it may even have a negative effect. Who wants to hear the same thing over and over? Soon one stops listening. When you say a single prayer with all of your heart and soul, it will be heard throughout all of the heavenly spheres with clarity and power.

And praying should not be restricted to time spent at one’s place of worship. Prayer should be an ongoing, frequent, daily practice said anywhere at any time. This is especially true for prayers of thanks. As a continuous process, prayer is a spiritual presence of mind where one is always aware of the presence of God in all things.

We should not make “promises” to God such that if He gives us X, then we promise to change our ways or do Y. Instead, we should attend to how we live on a daily basis, and always treat others with kindness. Then we will be rewarded without asking.

We are all human with limited ability to protect ourselves from harm and to cope with pain and suffering. If we find ourselves in a dangerous situation, or we suffer from some malady, prayer can often bring the help and strength we need to endure.

When we ask for material things for ourselves, prayer becomes a hollow self-serving exercise that may fall upon deaf ears. However, prayer becomes an expression of our spirit when we use it to give thanks for what God has chosen to give us, to ask for help for others, and to seek guidance concerning how we can be better human beings.

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4 comments on “Prayer: Spiritual or Self-Serving?

  1. […] Prayer: Spiritual or Self-Serving? (livingthelifeofspirit.com) […]

  2. Alma says:

    As with all opinions, everybody has one, so here is my humble one: I agree that prayer is how we communicate. However, I do not hold as restrictive of a definition of prayer. This is also associated with the fact that I do not hold as restrictive of a definition of God. In my own very personal opinion, I understand God to be EVERYTHING – all that is, ever was, ever will be. By that definition, I also view each of us Souls as part of the collective. We are all a piece of God Consciousness (along with trees, water, space, you name it). I do not conceive of anything as being separate. We are not separate of God; we are EXTENSIONS of God. We are the tentacles of the octopus, so to speak, haha. That being said, I also believe that the entire octopus is made of the same energy. Energy can be molded/modified into looking different (as a humans appear different than a chair… and their divine purposes are different), but ultimately, those “extensions” of energy all came from the grand Source of energy, which is often called God.

    This brings me to my next personal opinion: prayer IS thought. When you voice a prayer, it IS a thought. You have many thoughts within a day, and most of them you wouldn’t automatically conceive of as being prayers, but I feel that they still are, in a sense. I believe that thoughts are Things, and our thoughts are what create our reality. I agree that it is wise to pray consistently throughout each day, because I believe each thought IS creating your reality. So if you made most of your thoughts to be “prayer-like” thoughts, then you would create a more fulfilling reality for yourself. My reason for believing this goes back to the previous discussion of energy. If my physical body is made up of vibrational matter, and my thoughts are made up of vibrational anti-matter, then we are still sending out energetic vibrations into the Universe. Thoughts are still energy, just as real as physical energy (though not as easy to see).

    When you think a thought, the vibratory rate of that thought is sent out (like a prayer sent to God/Source). If you’re thinking about harming someone, then you are sending out that vibratory thought into the universe. If you’re thinking about helping someone, then you are also sending out that vibratory thought into the universe. You can call it prayer for one thought and not prayer for another thought, but ALL thoughts are being recorded, because ALL thoughts are the same energy. I don’t believe God/Source EVER has a deaf ear. If you place a strong intent behind a thought like, “I hate that person,” and you also place a strong intent behind a prayer like, “Hail Mary,” what is really the difference, besides the context? The intensity of the thought was the same. You sent out vibrations with Intention all the same. This is why I agree that it is important to be mindful what you pray for…. As I also believe it is important to be mindful of every thought in general!

    The next topic I would like to discuss is the Law of Attraction. This law has been proven by quantum physics. You see magnets with like-polarization attract to one another. You see people of like-interests attract to one another. The vibrations (be it the magnetic field of a magnet, or the magnetic field of a thought) sent out into the universe will attract if they match. Some people may call this karma. You’ve probably known people that are very pessimistic by nature. They are consumed by negative thoughts, and thus, they interpret all of their life events as negatives (even if you, the optimist, may view that same event as a positive… glass half empty or half full?). Their MIND, their THOUGHTS are what are framing/creating their reality. There is scientific research that shows that people who live pessimistic lives are more likely to become sick with major illnesses or live alone. They are merely attracting to their reality the vibrations which they have sent out into the universe on a consistent basis. Their “prayers” have all been answered, as their most intently focused thoughts (ie, “I’m not good enough. No one loves me.”) have made them a vibrational match to their experiences (ie, They have few friends and no spouse.).

    We all know the biblical quote, “Ask and you shall receive.” I believe this is steadfastly true, because it summarizes the Law of Attraction. This ALSO applies to material things! One area that I disagree with you on is making an enemy of materialism. I don’t believe it makes sense to make an enemy of anything, as everything is God. If you demonize something, or harbor resistance against something, all you are doing, in effect, is cutting yourself off from an aspect of the human experience – which was created by God/Source in the first place for learning. For example, why make an enemy of “fear,” because fear can save you from getting run over in the street. Why make an enemy of “war,” because war can inspire the intense desire within your heart for peace. Why make an enemy of “material possessions,” because gaining those possessions can teach you that what you REALLY wanted was security, family, connection, or to feel good about yourself – and not the possessions themselves. Everything you experience will give rise to a more refined desire, a closer connection to God.

    Everything that we experience in this life is an extension of God. God is not cruel. God would not put things in our life without our permission just for the sake of spiting us or hurting us. Everything we come into contact with was, consciously or subconsciously, invited or “prayed” into our existence. We invited it into our existence to better understand what we TRULY desire. The battered wife constantly thinks thoughts like, “I’m not lovable or worthy.” Her abusive husband agrees and constantly thinks the same thoughts, which is how he justifies hitting her. However, when she reaches the day where she begins thinking, “I may not be 100% lovable, but I’m sure more worthy than THIS beating,” then she will no long be a vibrational match to a man who ALSO views her as an “unlovable or unworthy” woman. The thoughts, prayers, vibrations they are sending are no longer identical, and thus she will begin the process of attracting new situations into her life. She will have learned, by experiencing that abuse, what “love” does NOT feel like. Therefore, in her journey of “finding love,” she will have found at least one way NOT to do it. Even Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

    The point of my ramblings is that we send out a lot “prayers” that we are not even self-aware of which invite things into our experience that force us to face, challenge, then change the previous thoughts that were not serving us. If it takes praying to be a millionaire because you “desire to be happy”, winning the lottery, and realizing “this isn’t it… this isn’t the happiness I was looking for,” then wasn’t that whole process still worth it? Wasn’t the journey successful in its attempt to define what happiness is for you? I’m thankful for the processes which lend in my expansion, including the ability to chat constantly on this forum with you!

    • Alma, I agree that thoughts are more powerful than most people realize. The Bible says that thought is the same as action. This suggests that if you think about doing something bad or immoral, it is the same as if you had actually done it. If true, it is good reason for pause.

      I believe that we will be held accountable for both our thoughts and actions. While your scenario of learning from the accumulation of material things is plausible, I feel it may be too simplistic. An aspect that needs to be acknowledged is when people are greedy and willing to do anything to get what they want. When others are hurt or deprived by their greed, it is wrong and will have spiritual consequences for them.

      What I am promoting is to get out ahead of yourself and let love and compassion for others drive your life and behavior. When you do this, material things matter much less, except to assure that those who are lacking have at least basic necessities. I find that this simple concept is difficult for many, perhaps because they have been indoctrinated by a materialistic society for too long. Many have known no other way to view life. So sad.

      • Alma says:

        I absolutely agree that the brief way in which I described learning from possessions is overly simplistic! You’re right that there exists individuals who are possesses themselves by their possessions, such as in cases of greed. These people do not hesitate to take from others to fill what they believe they “need.”

        In my opinion these people are caught in a cycle of poor insight and lack of awareness. The greedy are those at the extreme end of the “I’m not good enough” mentality. People who are greedy feel that they are inherently lacking something (whether they are aware of that or not). They want things, because they are never satisfied and grateful for what they already have. They focus on lack as opposed to abundance. Since they have not yet made the connection that “stuff” doesnt bring TRUE wholeness (worth, security, peace, love), they keep accumulating more and more.

        They’re searching to fill an internal affliction via an external source, which will not last. They take from others, because they see (at least subconsciously) themselves as lacking. They do not understand that they can generate what they truly desire internally themselves.

        Sometimes they take from others just to “level” with them. They view the world as a finite resource, and if I take from you, you’re down a point and I’m up a point. They don’t see how this doesnt make sense from a universal perspective of eternity and abundance.

        Many people who succumb to greed will die before they gain the self-awareness to see that they are STILL not truly happy, but the learning opportunity is still present for the taking. They will be held accountable for their decisions in their Life Review!

        I also very much agree with you that if you make your goal to focus on unity and love, you will become a vibrational match to wonderful things! The better it gets, the better it gets!!

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