“You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” – James 4:2
Here is something that may surprise you – you don’t have to believe in God to pray. I on the other hand do believe in God. When I pray He is who I am directing my prayers to. Yet many believe in other deities or in a higher being that is unnamed. Some believe in the oneness of the universe and pray to nature or the energies in the world.
Whatever you believe in you can connect on a conscious and subconscious level with your inner being, your spirit, through prayer and meditation. The problem for some people is that it feels as if there is no one listening and so they come to the conclusion that prayer is useless.
For example, I know someone who recently found out that his brother has cancer and that it is progressing rapidly. He posted a message on Facebook asking friends and family to pray for his brother. He received dozens of responses of people lifting his brother up in prayer. After the next checkup, the doctors said that his situation had gotten worse.
My friend then posted another message saying, ‘Well obviously prayer isn’t working so send up good vibes.’ Is it prayer that wasn’t working or is it a lack of faith? Or is it just that God has a plan and sometimes people die and we don’t understand the reasons? Is that cause to quit praying or to lose faith in the power of prayer?
How Do You Pray?
Maybe you have experienced something just like this. As James said in the quote above “We receive not because we ask not.” How do you pray? Are your prayers a litany of material things that you want? Are you treating God like a genie who grants wishes?
First let’s deal with the obvious problem. Just like not being able to let yourself fall into a deep meditative state, if you pray without faith it won’t work for you. Part of what is unique about meditation is the way that it can humble you. If you pray with faith understanding that sometimes when we ask, the answer is no and it is not for us to understand, then you are praying with faith and the humility to accept the will of God.
“Spiritual growth comes from a practice of meditation because meditation brings a growing sense of egolessness.” – Anonymous
What Do You Pray For?
When my kitchen caught on fire last month, I too felt disconnected and found myself stuck in the same place asking for the answers to the question why. It wasn’t until I got alone to a quiet place to meditate that I realized that what I needed was some one-on-one time with my higher power to get back into balance. So I reached inside and tapped into the power within me; not relying solely on my own strength.
I didn’t pray for a new kitchen. I didn’t pray for money to come cascading from the sky. I trust that God will provide for me just as he does the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. What I did pray for was strength, faith, confidence, and the ability to see beyond my current circumstances.
You know what? When my prayer was focused in the right place and coming from a place of calm and peace, my request was answered. What are you praying for? Let it not be superficial things rather pray for the strength to overcome. Pray for guidance. Sometimes you need to pray just to allow yourself to shed a few tears.
That is what your prayer life should be. Asking for righteous things and all the other things will come in due time.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1