DOESN'T PRAYER wishing strongly
for something cause you to clarify and intensify your
sincere intentions? Wouldn't that alone help you achieve what
you're praying for? Wouldn't it help you stay focused on it and
persistent about it? Of course, I'm here only talking about praying
for something you can help make happen. If you're praying
for rain, intensifying and clarifying your sincere intentions
would be worthless (setting aside pure miracles for a moment).
As you can probably tell, I'm not a religious
man. I wasn't indoctrinated with any religious teachings as a
child, and I'm glad I wasn't. And yet I've had enough experience
to suspect that somehow prayer has real, measurable effects in
the world. Scientific studies indicate it as well (see the book,
That prayer might have real effects in
the world seems amazing and mysterious to me, I guess more than
it would be to someone raised with stories of miracles, and I
guess I still don't quite believe it. But I don't quite disbelieve
it either. When I first came across the studies, I immediately
dismissed them as ridiculous. But then I realized that made me
a believer of a different sort, didn't it? Dismissing what is
a large collection of scientific research would mean I had "blind
faith" that prayer can't have an effect. I don't want to
be a believer one way or the other. I want to have open eyes
and an open mind. I don't want to prematurely close my mind.
What I'm saying, though, is that even if
prayer has no miraculous effects, it might still be worth doing
if only to purify and clarify and strengthen your own good intentions.
I know from experience that a clear intention makes that intention
more likely to be accomplished than a vague intention. And I
know that motivation is more easily sustained if you focus your
emotions on it, which is what a prayer would do. That means that
as long as the prayer didn't put you in a hopeless or helpless
state of mind, it might be helpful.
Something else I was thinking about is
metta meditation. Have you ever heard of it? It is a Buddhist
form of meditation that focuses on love, kindness, and good wishes
for others. Metta meditation is, then, a form of prayer. You
are wishing good for others and yourself.
And I think prayer can include not only
intending something, but also appreciating something,
and reveling in that appreciation. Feeling grateful as a sort
of meditation. A prayer of gratefulness.
You can also, of course, pray to ask for
something you cannot influence with any actions you can take.
That means if you are actually helpless to influence something,
you don't have to feel helpless if you feel that you can pray
and that does something. So if you used prayer in that way it
might help you feel less helpless.
You can also pray for something in you,
like strength of will, or seeing opportunities, or learning or
growing. This also I think would help to clarify what you want
to change about yourself. It would focus your attention on something
you could actually influence: Your character.
I am not going anywhere with this. Just
thinking out loud. What do you think? Let