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Hu Pryor

What Is Prayer?
by Hubert Pryor

This is not the way I thought I ought to start a piece on a subject human beings have dwelt on since perhaps even before they could put their thoughts into words. But please bear with me as I start this way:

Now I sit me down to say
That what we mean by "Let us pray"
Should maybe not be just "Let's plead"
With some great power to meet a need.

What I think we ought to know
Is God is always saying, "Lo!"
The meaning being our Good is here,
So prayer means greeting our good cheer.

Meaning, then, we needn't ask
For what is given. Indeed our task
In prayer is straightening out our thought
And saying, "Thank you!" As we ought!

Maybe as we take to prayer
In handling every daily care,
It's best to say, "Thank God!" and then
Proceed with joyful life again.

Those lines of spiritual doggerel now come to mind as I ponder the meaning of prayer. Like millions of children, the first lines of prayer ever taught me were lilting lines like those above that I uttered at bedtime. Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to have a child think of "dying before I wake." But in general I think I was reassured by the mere lilt of the lines asking for the help of "the Lord."

In many later years of contemplation, however, the meaning of prayer has challenged my understanding, as perhaps it has done all of us. Which explains those lines of verse above. They're intended to take the lilt of the "Now I lay me down" prayer and have it work as a positive mind treatment.

In our prayer, it seems to me now, we needn't so much ask for blessings as accept them. Isn't the Creative Power most of us call "God" offering them to us all the time in every phase of our lives? As creatures of that Creative Power, shouldn't we make it our task to open ourselves to those blessings?

And isn't the best way to do that is affirm that they are ours--knowing that they are by saying, "Thank you"?

Now, the easiest thing for us in our human lives often seems to be to complain and bemoan shortcomings and deprivations. For things to change, we need to refocus our outlook and see beyond--and even deny—whatever negatives our senses tell us are so and recognize how misinformation may have seemed to twist the Truth.

"The Truth"? Well, there has to be some understanding of what that means if we are going to talk about prayer. It has to mean "good" in some sense or in just every sense we can conceive. If the truth we're invoking means "bad" or anything less than "good," why bother with prayer?

In effective prayer, I believe that what we are doing is talking to our subconscious. That's where most of what happens to us in our lives clicks on. A lot of it, thankfully, is vitally automatic--our breathing, our heart beat, our metabolism and on and on. And yet it's also automatically the source of habitual thinking and feeling--good and bad--planted there, I guess, in our genes and in the instructions of do's and don'ts we get through the years.

I'm immensely thankful for much of the indoctrination in countless matters that I've received over my lifetime. But some of the instruction I received or misunderstood needed to be sorted out pretty thoroughly over the years. That's where prayer, for many people and for me, proves effective.

To the "bad" or "undesirable" lingering in our subconscious, we say, "That's not what God, the Truth, the Almighty Creator ordains! We've figured it out! That Creative Power of All creates, It doesn't destroy. It may seem otherwise, but only good is truly so!"

We follow with a litany of blessings befalling us. And yes, it takes practice, patient practice. But when we see our blessings, then we are truly blessed, as have been millions of praying people through the ages, whom we join, saying:

"Thank you, God!"

©Copyright 2004 Hubert Pryor. All Rights Reserved.

Hubert Pryor
Hubert Pryor
is a retired editor of national magazines--Modern Maturity and Science Digest among others--Hubert Pryor is the author of SOUL TALK: Positive Mind Treatments to Turn Your Life Around (available through DeVorss & Co., 553 Constitution Ave., Camarillo, CA 93012, 800-843-5743, www.devorss.com) and a forthcoming book, SERENITY 101: Spiritual Wisdom, Ancient and Modern, for Peace of Mind Today.



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