I just got of the phone with a dear friend and mentor of mine in California. We had a great conversation and got on the topic of prayer. From our sharing, something shifted for me regarding the nature of prayer and how to speak about it.
Most people have the idea of prayer as talking to deity where they beseech for forgiveness, petition for help, ask for wisdom and clarity, or to give thanks. It is also commonly an act of submission, humbling oneself before God, offering up one’s life as a tool for God to use.
Pagans may pray to many different deities. Yet prayer within the pagan community if frequently very similar in nature to the monotheistic religions. It is again one of petition or submission.
I think of prayer very differently. It is the counterpart to meditation. My Druidry teacher, Bobcat, once told me, “Meditation is listening, prayer is speaking back”. This implies relationship, a circular motion, listening first and then speaking. Talking with my friend in California, he put words to this that made a light go on. He said, “prayer is engagement”.
Thinking of prayer as engagement instead of words, is very helpful in learning to communicate with that which isn’t verbal. I don’t hear words when I work with the wind, the forest, the moon, the ocean or with the fire which keeps me warm all winter. There is honorable exchange though and deep relationship, a sacred one and a religious one.
Prayer isn’t limited to our relationship to deity.
The form prayer takes is limitless. Prayer can be a gesture. It can be a word or many words. It can be song. It can be a dance, a conscious exhale, the leaving of a piece of food on a log, the wiping of sweat from the brow, it can be orgasm. Where these things go from the mundane to the sacred, from simple communication to prayer is in the level of engagement. It is engagement where we open our soul to share true intimacy. When we are in this state, all returned communication becomes prayer. Engaged, fully present, co-creating.