My Battle with Prayer
My Battle with Prayer
By Sam Morse
I spent a lot of time in my childhood praying. Ok...if I am attempting to be more open and honest, then I spent a moderate amount of time in prayer. There was plenty of time at youth events when I would be sitting in the sanctuary appearing to be deeply in prayer in a group setting but in reality, my thoughts were focused on my strategy for the game of Settlers of Catan that we would be playing afterwards. It’s hard enough to concentrate on normal daily tasks at that age, so I never truly understood how people could sit and pray for hours. It also seemed very clear that the longer one would stay in prayer, or the more emotional one was in prayer, the more it was believed, within the social group, that that certain individual was more deeply connected with God. It became almost a popular thing to be seen as spiritually enriched by prayer.
I’m very aware how my mind worked in those moments of prayer. My thoughts would be all over the place; they were always scattered between past and future events. Even in those rare moments when I could focus and seek the guidance of my creator, it was never as if I would actually hear a voice or an ethereal force guiding me to one specific life revelation. What confused me the most was so many individuals seemed to treat prayer with such a mystical quality. Some would enter time of deep meditation with God and walk away with precise answers or even future revelations.
Then education came into play, to once again present the insidious side of holy contemplation. The Christian faith’s history is scattered with people who would stand before their tribes and nations to proclaim a course of action due to the certainty of a divine proclamation gifted to them through their pious pursuits of prayer. More often than not, as time grows between the historians and history, these plans and decisions claimed to be heavenly inspired were deeply rooted in pursuits of power and control by the ones proclaiming to be “messengers of God”.
So that left me in this place of utter confusion, once again. There was so much evidence in history to point towards the dangerous power of using prayer as a channel to the thoughts of God. Could I see it as righteous pursuit with this growing reality? What about the fact that I had never felt anything past my own thoughts in my personal times of prayer? Was I once again left with a reality of God refusing to communicate with someone like myself?
I had honestly given up on prayer for a long time. I would have the usual fox hole prayers of panic through my twenties when I would be so distraught about an illness or current situation that I would scream cries of help to the heavens; often with no avail. Recently, however, I attempted to experience a more eastern approach to meditation. I had still felt an internal longing to reflect and seek wisdom, so this approach had often intrigued me. I spent most of the summer working towards running a 5k (successfully...and the people rejoiced) and I would often end the run with a small time of guided meditation in my beautiful new backyard. I found this time comforting, peaceful, and what I had always sought in times of prayer. I found myself focused on the present moment, allowing life’s excess to slide off my shoulders, and it left me alone in the beauty of a summer morning. What I found more surprising was the day to follow. As I would go through the normal paces of the day I would find myself more prone to seek wisdom, or to simply slow down enough to think through a situation more thoroughly. I had taken time to seek peace, and peace had entered my mind.
Meditation has reshaped my view on prayer completely. Once again it brings my faith from a power-seeking system, to a personal moment of self-reflection and a longing for peace. I am no longer asking for the answers to my decisions but seeking peace and calmness to make my own decisions with a more love centred mind. My faith has increasingly turned from an organized faith system, to a personal journey from chaos to peace.
Are my meditation habits stronger than my prayer ones? No. Let’s be real, life often gets in the way and winter months can quickly pass by in intense hibernation. But the more I am diving into this journey of figuring out what I believe in, I long for a growing discipline towards meditation. Sometimes it’s awfully spooky (or deeply wonderful) when you are pulled towards these spiritual exercises. It’s as if something out there wants me to reflect and seek peace. Almost as if it is peace and love at its very essence.
I can’t prove in those moments of meditation that I am meeting with God or if he is the one providing me the peace. I am self-aware and scientifically headstrong enough to admit this could be simply be a personal exercise I need as a conscious member of a complex species. What I can prove, however, is the effects and legitimacy of the results of seeking that peace. And sometimes isn’t that all the proof one can ask for?