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About “Prayer”

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The following is not meant to offend those who pray. If you are into “praying,” please read this as objectively as possible.

Praying is still what a lot of people do. Why do people pray and what does praying involve? We must be careful not to overly or subjectively analyze it, since (psychologically) the analyzer is not something truly separate from the analyzed.

People who pray will tell you that they are praying to God, to what they consider or think/feel God to be. Fundamentally, in all actuality, they are praying to an image (of what their thoughts consider God to be). This image is a protrusion of their thinking process. It is a product and fabrication of thought/thinking. One of the associative feelings or suppositions regarding this projected image, regarding what “God” is considered to be, involves attributes of power, dominance, (and all of this with a heavily anthropomorphic bent). In other words, this image of God — within people, constituting part of their minds — consists of human (often fatherly) attributes; these images, for instance, tend to be formulated of human attributes involving such things as great strength, power, endurance, fortitude, fairness, awareness, and keen judgment. (Most people do not harbor internal images of a lazy, indifferent, weak God. Most brains do not harbor associative constructs tying images of God to inefficiency, indolence, and to a complete lack of awareness.)

Many ardently cling to this image involving domination and power — whom they call “God” — and will insist that it is more than a self-projected image that they carry. Curiously, if one examines honestly, there is another image that they carry that (coincidentally) also involves great domination and power. Do you realize what it is? It is the image of the self. It is the image of the “I” and/or the “me.” However, most of us do not see it for what it is (i.e., a projected, concocted image); most of us see it (or feel it) to be the permanent, separate, central orchestrator and core regulator of all of the other thoughts. Most of us see it as what has true domination and power; it (to us) is what is having domination and power over the “other” thoughts (and is separate from them). (So there exists domination and power regarding “God” and domination and power involving the “I” or the “me.”) We don’t see the “I” for what it really is… another protrusion of thought/thinking that (in reality) is neither powerful, dominant, nor truly central. However, most all of us cling to this psychological structure because it fits in well with what everyone else has absorbed and accepted as legitimate. We evolved from primitive hominids in an environment where domination and power were critical and extremely important. Following leaders of power — or forces of power — was critical and necessary way back then, wasn’t it? We haven’t dropped those old-fashioned ways.

A few additional points:
So when people pray to God concerning things that need to be done for others, for instance, are they pointing out things that this God may be negligent about understanding or that this God is not quite fully adequate at being aware of? If mentally handicapped people and animals are not gifted enough to pray to what may involve dominance and power, does this mean that they are largely plum out of luck? When a person prays, may it be that that person feels that he or she is involved in a direct pipeline to something considered powerful and dominating (i.e., which — let’s face it — is that person’s image of God) with, all the while, this pipeline being something considered special? And could it be that the previous question implies that psychologically imagining that one has such a pipeline, in oneself, nourishes a form of self-aggrandizement, blowing up the ego of the one so imagining?

So…

Personally, one does not pray in the traditional sense. One rolls up one’s sleeves. My prayer — if it is any form of prayer at all (which it really isn’t) — is the “doing.” I worked throughout life with the handicapped, with the mentally disadvantaged, and with those in real need. If we perceive with real intelligence and understanding, then compassion is there, the sacred is there. But it is not of dominance and power, and all of that traditional, projected, nonsensical crap.

Praying Angel with the Golden Wings … Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2021

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My Blog primarily consists of close-up nature photos (that I've taken locally) combined with original holistic-truth oriented prose and/or poetry involving mindfulness/awareness. I love nature and I love understanding the whole (not merely the parts and the details). I'm a retired teacher of the multiply handicapped. I have a number of interesting hobbies, such as fossil collecting, sport-kite flying, 3D and 2D close-up photography, holography, and pets. Most of all, I am into holistic self-awareness, spontaneous insight, unconventional observation/direct perception, mindfulness, meditation, world peace, non-fragmentation, population control, vegetarianism, and green energy. To follow my unique Blog of "Nature Photos and Mindfulness Sayings" and for RSS feeds to my new posts, please access at: tom8pie.com (On my regular Blog posting pages, for additional information and to follow, simply click on the "tack icon" at the upper right corner... or, on my profile page, you can click on the "Thomas Peace" icon.) Stay mindful, understanding, and caring!...

32 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Interesting commentary Tom. Prayer is a part of our DNA, at lease it is in mine. Cultures around the world embrace the concept of prayer in their varied, communal ways. For me, it gives me a sense of hope, something that helps me to hold on, not in a domineering way, but to help me remain focused throughout my challenges. Perhaps that is the “I” that you speak of. Cheap therapy I guess you could call it. πŸ˜‰ Prayer isn’t a religious flippant thing for me, but one spiritual in nature. I applaud you for showing your love and spreading it in compassionate ways, as you do. Thanks for sharing. I truly understand your perspective. Stay encouraged! πŸ˜€

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  2. I find most prayers so arrogant; thank you for helping me find my cat. How important I must be compared to the thousands of small children that starved to death today.

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  3. Wonderfully written Tom. I wonder if people pray out of need, belief or because they were brought up to pray. Who do they pray to and what do they pray for. Better yet, do their prayers get answered. I guess though, if it makes them feel good about themselves then they are all the better for it.

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  4. Oh boy you nailed it Tom – patriarchy is POWER – the power of the great father whoever that is…. you made me laugh with these words “So when people pray to God concerning things that need to be done for others, for instance, are they pointing out things that this God may be negligent about understanding or that this God is not quite fully adequate at being aware of?” GREAT POINT.

    I am not being my most respectful self perhaps but the god you describe horrifies me and I want nothing to do with such authoritarianism. I also know that this guy is someone a lot of people want and of course he’s human!

    As for prayer itself – since my religion is nature – my prayer is mostly about “being” and being aware of the wonder around me and remembering to give thanks – the rest of my prayer is mostly about doing – teaching and writing and mentoring – listening – caring about the earth – sometimes sending thoughts of care to another – or reciting a few simple words like “All Shall Be Well Again” (Julian of Norwich) especially when I don’t believe it – love these posts and hope that you are doing all right….

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    • Thank you much, Sara. Maybe “All shall be well again,” but (the way people are acting), it sure doesn’t seem to apply to the future of this particular planet. Hopefully, intelligent life on other planets realizes how to care for the environment and for life way better than what humans have been doing. Take care and stay safe. Stay close to nature’s harmony, magic, and balance. πŸ™‚

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      • Tom, just remember that humans are the youngest most arrogant and destructive species on the planet and that nature has been running things for a very long time. Eventually my guess is that humans will be eliminated but the earth WILL live on. For me, at least, there is comfort knowing that – and staying close to nature allows me to feel it…. May you do the same.

      • Yes, we are among the “youngest” evolutionarily speaking. Yes, the earth’s creatures will go on. We will likely destroy ourselves with our own technology. As E.E. Cumming wrote in one of his excellent poems: “Progress is a comfortable disease.” He also wrote (in the same poem): “A world of made is not a world of born.”

  5. ” Fundamentally, in all actuality, they are praying to an image (of what their thoughts consider God to be).”
    Thank you for this! I too have always prayed in the doing of my life, though I respect that we all pray in our own way. I believe that God is simply an energy form we sometimes come into connection with. πŸ™‚

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  6. For me, “God” is not the authoritarian, powerful father figure. I have real issues with that. For me, what others refer to as “God” is the loving energy that moves me to be a better person; to do more for others. It is faith in action. For me, “God” is the energy that dwells within all life – from flowers to trees; animals to people; in nature itself. So, yes, I do pray, but my sense of “God” does not agree with the definition (as such) that you describe here.

    I once worked with a young man who was mentally and physically handicapped. He taught me more about what “God” is than any book or religion. He could only say a few words, “Mama” “Yes” and “No”. And though he was basically nonverbal his spirit spoke to mine. He would smile when he heard my voice. (He was partially blind as well) He went from the wheelchair to the bed and had limited movement. One day I was trying to describe him to people we knew at the time and the reaction was, “what kind of quality of life is that?” Well, I have to say, that young man was wiser than many intellectuals I have met. To me he was more fully “able” and lived more fully than many so-called able-bodied people. So, in the eyes of many he was severely “disabled”. Yet he was more beautiful, gentle, kind, and loving than anyone I’ve ever met. I truly believe he was an example of “God” personified:sacred, holy, and loving. I could go on and on, but I think you will get what I’m driving at.

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  7. It’s so wonderful, Carol, that you do not harbor standardized, normalized images of God. Yes, the sacred is more of an energy, an energy that is beyond description, labeling, pigeonholing, and circumscribing.
    Ah, having worked (for decades) as a teacher of those who happened to be multiply handicapped, i (deeply) realize what you are saying. So very often, i was amazed at the pure grace, joy, kindness, intrinsic love for others, simple beauty, humility, and lack of hatred and greediness in the handicapped people i worked with. It was an honor to have worked with them. I learned a great deal from them, not just them having learned from me. There was something extraordinarily magical there, which i feel that you have seen. Keep what you learned from that young man deep in your heart. It may consist of the most precious things that you will have learned in your entire life. πŸ™‚

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    • I do cherish my time with him and all the lessons he taught me. It is magical, and somewhat mystical the relationship between those we define as “handicapped” and ourselves. I often think it is we the “able-bodied” who are the real handicapped. As you point out, they are not so ego-driven, nor so filled with biases and prejudices as the rest of us. I feel so blessed, so enriched by my experience with ‘J’. I am sure you do as well when you think back on your work. They really are the souls of compassion and love.

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  8. Pingback: About β€œPrayer” – laugh is my passion-fashion

  9. To me prayer is an ongoing response to God; non-prayer a snub. Same goes for doing good for goodness sake- it’s God who helps me feed the hungry.

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  10. Thanks for the post! Love it! I’m not offended by what you’ve said here at all. It sounds to me like you’re being authentic and providing your own anecdotal analysis on what prayer is. A post like this forces me to reflect on what exactly it is I’m doing when I pray. It’s a strange phenomenon. But I don’t relate with your comments about prayer being an image of self, domination, or power. On the contrary, when I pray, I feel weak and powerless, yet have this strange sense of being loved. It is when I feel the weakest and most depraved that I pray the most. Prayer, for me produces a desire to love, for self-sacrifice, for kindness, and for an obedience to the will of God. As I acknowledge my weakness in humility, I allow room for God to work in my heart. Sometimes when I am praying “in the spirit”, I have felt the most incredible electricity, that I could only compare to my memories of tripping on ecstasy, but much better and without the side effects.
    I also reject the notion of God being strictly patriarchal. Both man and woman was created in THEIR image (elohim). The Holy Spirit, a member of the trinitarian Godhead, is understood in it’s original Hebrew as a feminine entity. (Despite the evidence, this has unfortunately not gained much traction in Orthodox Western Christianity)

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