What is prayer? How does it work? Does prayer make any sense scientifically? Does it matter which religion you follow for the prayer to work? These are some of the questions that are answered in one of the chapters in my book “Secret Beyond the Secret.” I would like to present here some of the points that I cover in this book regarding prayer.
First I would like to acknowledge that some people find it difficult to accept that there is an intelligent designer, a powerful source of energy in the universe, but that we are unable to see. For these people, seeing is believing. To help them overcome this issue, I would like to remind them the simple fact that humans are only capable of sensing and detecting less than fifty percent of the radio waves and the invisible rays of energies. We are unable to see or detect X-rays, Ultraviolet and Infrared rays. We cannot hear sound waves with high and low frequencies. We are in fact so vulnerable to all these types of energies that we may even be under attack and not be able to notice that something is coming our way. And, that’s because our senses are limited; that’s how we are designed to function. So, why then seem so hard to accept that there is also a type of universal energy which comes from a more powerful source than other types of energies and from which we could benefit?
So what do we understand with prayer? We understand prayer as a communication between us and this invisible entity which some of us call God, while others call it the Universal Force. We could imagine our communication with God as if God were a person, but truly, that’s not necessary. The easier way to understand this communication, the prayer, is to realize that since our thoughts carry energy then communication between us and God as the main source of this energy is done merely through the exchanges of energies.
We constantly communicate our thoughts and needs through the exchange of energies.
When my oldest daughter was five she experienced one of those night terrors that all children at that age experience once in a while. While still asleep, Julie got off her bed, yelling, “I want my mommy, I want my mommy!” I ran to her room and caught her at the door, just before storming down the stairs. To my surprise, she did not recognize me. I was repeatedly telling her “I am here sweetie, I’m here,” but she kept pushing me away. Even though her eyes were open and it seemed like she was looking at me, she continued repeating louder and more violently, “I want my mommy!” For a moment, I was shocked. I had never seen that before. My own daughter didn’t recognize me at all. I quickly gathered myself and talked to her in a calm but authoritarian voice: “I Am Your Mommy!” She looked me straight in the eye and with such surprise she asked, “You are my mommy?” “Yes,” I answered, “I am your mommy.” She must have recognized my voice at that point because she responded, “Oh, yeahhh! You are my mommy!” and went back to sleep like nothing happened.
Similar to Julie’s story, some people pray day and night, but they don’t expect, or even bother to look around for the signs that God may send them. Could God be right in front of our eyes but we keep pushing Him away and asking, “Where is God? Why can’t we see God?” Julie didn’t see me because, even though her eyes were open, she was not conscious. Her brain wasn’t hundred percent awake. For the same reason, we cannot see or hear God as our level of consciousness is not high enough for that. Thus, we must increase the level of our consciousness (awareness) to be able to recognize God’s presence.
If God were a person, would He (or She or Genderless Entity) be mad at us for denying His presence, or searching for Him or Her and yet not finding God? No, I don’t think so. As a parent, for example, I was not disappointed that my daughter did not recognize me. I was worried about her safety as she was heading for the stairs while pushing me away and not trusting me. I wanted Julie to become aware of my existence since she was the one calling for me. In similar ways we pray to God without being fully conscious of what we are asking for, and not aware of what we should expect from each prayer that we make.
In order to be fully conscious as we pray, we must first acknowledge the true reason why we pray. The reason why we pray is that we are limited in our abilities, limited in our vision, limited in knowing the truth and the reasons behind everything that happens. We pray, because we feel helpless, thus we ask for opportunities where we can learn more and understand more; we pray because we need help. The way different religions teach people to pray, however, is like an obligation, like a task that needs to be accomplished in order to please God with our devotion. I made this exact mistake, same as all others, when I was a Catholic Christian years ago. I went to Church and prayed every Sunday. I did this with lots of devotion but without expecting anything in return for my prayers. I was reciting the prayers of Hail Mary and Our Father, loud and clear, just like everyone else in the audience, being pleased with myself and almost too proud for showing my devotion to God, again just like everyone else around me. Was I being fake? Yes and no. I truly believed in God then as I believe today, but of course I had to show it so I could fit in.
Then, something strange started to happen. As I pushed myself to go to church every Sunday, I started feeling like dirt, fake and plastic inside the church, while I felt real and full of joy on the way home, spending time with my children at a park nearby or at Wendy’s for lunch. I tried to logic that I was doing the right thing by going to church and I tried to fight that awful feeling of fakeness, but it just could not go away. In fact it grew stronger. At that moment I had a great revelation and I asked myself a simple question: Does God need devotion from us? Is God a pathetic being that’s in need for such constant appraisal or is God an Omnipotent being? If we truly believe in God’s powers then we do not need to show Him our devotion but we can show our trust in His powers through one and only correct way that is, asking for His help when we need Him and trusting that we will get this help.
Four years ago when I was teaching in a Catholic High School in Toronto I came to realize the shocking truth that many people use their religion as a badge to show others that they are worthy. I could not help it but feel sickened by the way people were trying to convince everyone else that they were good people just because they carried a cross in their necks. This falsity around me reached the culminating point when one of the candidates for the Member of Parliament in our region, sent out flyers with a photo of him shaking hands with the Pope. Because of this, many people in my neighborhood voted for him and also made sure that everyone else knew that they voted for the guy who believes in God. For me that was the turning point. I quit practicing religion and decided to say stop to the influence of any religion and deceptiveness on myself and my children. I also quit teaching for the Toronto Catholic School Board. This was a shocking moment for my relatives and close friends. Working as a high school teacher for T.C.S.B. was indeed a well-paid job, but the pain of dealing so much hypocrisy day after day after day, was becoming unbearable for me. Some people called me crazy, others called me brave. It was neither. I just had total trust in God, that He would not abandon me. This trust makes my endeavors quite easy indeed. And just as I wished, three months later I started working as a college teacher.
So, in this journey and experience I had with fake religious people, I came to realize, like many and many other honest people, that those who feel the need to brag, about their religion and devotion to God, have in fact a hidden agenda. They either, feel inferior for some reasons and are trying to compensate this inferiority by adding some values which they associate with a specific religion, or they wish to manipulate others so others blindly trust them and follow their advice. The question is: Shouldn’t religion be a personal private commitment to one’s ideology about God? Isn’t faith some inner belief in one’s mind? Faith cannot be forced by using guilt or fear. Faith cannot be learned through books or sermons. Faith can only be shown through your actions, not your words. Then why do people still feel the need to make their faith public and brag about their devotion to God? Believing in some ideas and following a certain religion is not an accomplishment. Being part of religious communities doesn’t automatically make you a good person; it only shows that you decided to join a club, yes a club, which inspires the same ideology about God as the one you believe in. It’s that simple!
Practicing a religion should be used as an assurance that there is God and you can count on Him. This can be done through people sharing their amazing true experiences when they acted upon faith and they receive the help they needed, but not using these stories to convince others to follow their ideology. What’s the point for that? Remember, faith is an inner thing. You can inspire others but you don’t need followers. But are religious leaders inspiring this type of personal inner trust in God or are they asking for more and more followers to fill up their congregations? Then ask yourself, which agenda are these religious leaders following? Surely not God’s agenda.
All religious leaders talk about God with so much certainty, teaching people to pray as if God is in need of our devotion and praise. According to religions, we will get our rewards based on this devotion. With this, they give God similar traits as those of a greedy human being. Religions make people fear God and His mood swings, as if God suffers from Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. This is indeed so ridicules, but also a very clever way to get people to follow them. It’s easy to manipulate people through fear because when people fear they worry, and when they worry they need solutions. That’s when clergymen, just like politicians and businessmen, rush to rescue people by offering their “marvelous solutions.” This way they keep getting more followers, more voters and more business from people, because in fact the problems that people face, are never solved. People fear death, fear physical and emotional pain, people fear the fact that they are not in control of their lives, but to fear God is absolutely not the solution for ending all the fears. This is not the solution simply because God was not the creator of our problems to start with. Our main problem generated with the wrong idea about destiny.
So, what is destiny again? Destiny is a magnetic field wrapped around our DNA in every cell of our body. When people deviate from their own destined path, this force field will trigger a chain of chemical reactions and emotions. The purpose of these emotions is to make us aware of our mistakes and the wrong choices we are making. Unfortunately, people interpret these emotions as anger and pain that is caused by others and the outside world. But, the problem is inside of us, not outside. Therefore, the solution will not come by applying an outside force but from a force that leads us from the inside. Being influenced by outside forces, however, makes us confused and that is why we need God’s guidance. We pray to ask for directions in finding our correct paths. And that’s the whole purpose of praying. Praying is like a phone call to the troubleshooting department. Thus, each prayer must be different from the other, and must be based on our individual needs.
I just cannot close this chapter without touching one more time, what is wrong with the way people pray now. In every religion, prayer is a form of reciting of some standard phrases from their holy books. Other times, people make their own prayers, which by the way, is a good way to start but, they only do it when they are in desperate situations. The problem, as you can see, is that people swing between two extremes: We either expect nothing after we pray or expect everything from God. This way of praying is like telling a student who has a hard time doing his homework, “Praise your teacher if you need good marks.” By praising his teacher the student will learn nothing. He will either become teacher’s pets, a hypocrite, or he will desperately and uselessly wait for his teacher to do the homework for him. Do you now see the problem? It is not that the teacher (God) is absent, or that we ignore His existence, but in order to do the homework just like the student we must learn to ask the right question. Student asks for the instructions on how to do the homework. In the same way, we must consider prayer as a way of communicating with the Universe by asking for instructions on how to resolve our problems. Next, we have to teach ourselves to wait for these instructions before we start taking actions, just like the student would wait to hear the lesson before doing his homework. During this waiting period, which is the third step of my formula: Think-Pray-Dream-Dare, we must refrain ourselves from taking actions based on our own individual plans and human logic. When instructions are delivered to us in the form of signs and random events, we must learn to follow them and grab the opportunities.
You may now realize that praying with intention in your mind, without using those standard prayers, it actually requires you to pay quite a good deal of attention to what you are wishing for. After delivering your wish/prayer you need to apply trust and patience, and that’s what you will learn to do in the third step of the formula. Consider this waiting period like waiting for the green light at an intersection. You know that there is no need to get mad, upset or anxious during the time when the light is red because you know that soon the light will turn green.