by Tom Rapsas: Do you believe in a force that is greater than yourself? If yes, how do you engage and connect with this omnipresent force beyond merely recognizing its presence?
For those of us who refer to this life force as God, one way to engage is prayer.
I’m not talking about the formalized, ritualistic prayers of the church. I simply mean going into a silent place within yourself and engaging with what John Templeton calls “something wise within us” or what Charles Fillmore referred to as the “the great stillness that pervades our whole being.”
Praying on a regular basis can keep us connected with God, offering us solace when facing the everyday challenges of life.As the author David Brooks wrote: “You have to draw on something outside yourself to deal with the forces inside yourself.” We all need someone (or something) to lean on.
The good thing about prayer is you can do it anytime, anywhere.
For me, prayer has become an instinctual reflex—something I do daily. Each morning, I give thanks for the good in my life and also offer silent gratitude for any small blessings that emerge during the day. I sometimes ask for guidance during tough times or patience when I need inner peace. There’s no church required, the temple is within.
If prayer is something you don’t engage in, or only practice when you’re in dire straits, here are three prayers you might consider using on a regular basis.
Prayer #1. For when things are going well: the prayer of gratitude.
I’ve written about this before, but it’s so important I’m gladly mentioning it again. The prayer of gratitude may be the single most powerful prayer there is and it’s one I use every day. It’s a simple prayer of thanks for all the abundance and good in our lives, a thank you to God for all the things that makes life worth living, from the members of your family to a gorgeous sunrise.
In English mystic Reshad Feild’s autobiography The Last Barrier, the author writes about his spiritual guide who stresses to him the importance of gratitude. He tells Feild he should get up each morning and go to bed each night giving thanks to God. He implores:
How many times a day to you remember to say thank you? You are completely dependent on God and it is to Him that all thanks are due. Until you can be truly grateful, you will always be in separation from God.
In a nutshell, that’s the reason for this prayer. It somehow seems to bring you closer to God, because by recognizing God in this way it makes the Divine a real and positive presence in your life. As Oprah Winfrey said, “gratitude can shift your attitude.”
THE PRAYER: Start with the words “God, I’m thankful for all the good in my life, including ______________, ______________ and ___________.” Name three things you appreciate most on this day and at this moment.
Prayer #2. For when you need to make a choice: a prayer for guidance.
Can God really help us make a difficult decision? Well, it certainly can’t hurt. When you remember there’s a greater power in the universe that can help guide you, it takes some of the weight off your shoulders—and, in time, it can lead you to a decision with the best possible outcome.
John Templeton has written about prayer at length and says that “when we become very still and ask for guidance, we may be directed clearly and unmistakably, with a “yes” or “no”. Other times, the best approach is to “release the answer to God and trust the flow of the divine to enter our lives.”
In other words, it’s sometimes best to give it time. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for right away, have patience, and in time the answers will come. Templeton reminds us that as we wait, we are never alone in this process:
Sometimes, when our prayers seem to be unanswered in the manner we think they should, we may feel that we are not in tune with the timeless, unlimited universal creator called God. But nothing can be separate from God. Everything that touches you, everything that touches each individual in the universe, is a part of God.
THE PRAYER: “Dear God, I ask for your guidance in making this decision. Please lead me to the choice that is best for me, my family, and best suited for my path in life.”
Prayer #3. For when you’ve hit one of life’s potholes: a prayer for help.
Emmet Fox may have gotten it right when he suggested that whenever we find ourselves in a tough situation that we “stop thinking about the difficulty and think about God instead.”
Many times, our thoughts are counterproductive when we’re troubled or in trouble—we simply don’t think straight. So, it makes sense to take a break from our mental struggles and ask for help from a higher power. By putting the focus on God, we take some of the pressure off of ourselves. Again, John Templeton provides some sage advice:
Trials can help us grow and may come into our life to offer a greater realization of God’s presence and power. As we maintain trust and peace, our problems are more likely to be solved, and sometimes in a mysterious hour and sometimes even at the eleventh hour.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I trust in your wisdom and that there is a lesson to be learned from this experience. I ask you to lead me through this difficult time to a better day. Repeat.