I confess to having a love/hate relationship with prayer. At times in my life I’ve been a very fervent pray-er, but when I dropped out of formal religion I mostly left that practice behind. Prayer seemed like just one more attempt to control the world, which is what the ego is always trying to do in one way or another. We ask for what we want to happen, hoping to manipulate the outcome in our favor. Then we feel either #blessed or disillusioned, depending on the result.
At least, that’s how I generally used prayer in the past.
Recently, after a long hiatus, I’m back at it – but with a big difference! That difference is illustrated by this quote from Spirit Junkie, by Gabrielle Bernstein:
Remember that there is no need to pray for an outcome. Simply pray for inner peace. Anything you get won’t solve your problem. The problem is always in our mind. The major shifts don’t occur externally, they occur internally.
When I pray now I use the term “Spirit,” which seems more accurate and less fraught than “God” (in a different book, Bernstein calls Spirit “the voice of our right-minded self,” which I love). And I’m careful not to pray for anything specific to happen. Instead, my favorite prayers are for inner healing, acceptance, and release: in other words, for help with surrendering, not controlling.
I’m grateful to Gabrielle Bernstein for reminding me of the power of praying for change on the inside, not the outside.