The following observations about the fundamental nature of prayer are coming from my current level of understanding, which is fully subject to change and reconsideration if and when evidence to the contrary presents itself.
I first think it’s necessary to contemplate what happens when we pray, no matter what is being said or how we do it, or whatever situation would somehow require divine intervention. I’ve taken to heart the words of the Christ Consciousness as found in the Gospel of Thomas, “…the kingdom (of heaven) is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known…” The “kingdom” here would be where God Him/Her self resides, within all aspects of the natural world (“outside of you”) and also fully within our hearts (“inside of you”) if we can only acknowledge it as such, a place and space we can experience within each and any here-and-now moment, the same space and place we don‘t need to die in order to get to. It’s within this awareness that we’re only talking to ourselves, or at least to our higher “known” selves, the spark of inner Divinity we all intuit on some level that is already there, talking ourselves into making something miraculous happen, as if a miracle is somehow what we need or want, in both trivial and profound matters.
This of course runs into the conundrum of wondering precisely what we absolutely need versus the ego-desires of what we merely want, primarily because we don’t always know the difference between the two. This is where the Divine spark within us “knows” better, or at least it should if we have that kind of faith, we can call it our soul’s higher purpose, the planets helping to shape our souls, or whatever we want to intuit as something higher than ourselves, or somehow outside of ourselves. This level of consciousness is so difficult to fully appreciate because our human minds are so faulty and incomplete, and why we’re ideally so hard-wired to keep on searching for our inner divinity. We can’t do much of anything unless and until we “know” our true nature, as co-creators of our lives with this “higher” divine intelligence, which is already right inside us.
The first step in prayer obviously lies in our intellectual capacity to be able to articulate the situation, otherwise we wouldn’t know what to pray for. We can then check those thoughts with our heart filters, and if it then feels right we can speak from our heart’s core, directly to our inner divinity. However, we then need to be more specific as conditions change which they always do, requiring more brain power and further contact with our heart centers, strengthening our mind-heart connection in the process, the necessary link where our prayers have much more effect on a desired outcome.
So, because we don’t always know the difference between what we want and what we need, it’s always a good idea to include “this or something better” in our prayers and rituals, to get what we absolutely need rather than what we only think we want. And then, whenever our prayers are answered or our dreams come true, we need to express gratitude throughout and then as a necessary follow-up to the power of prayer, closing that loop in order to move along to the next challenge. Or, whenever our ego-plans fall apart, we need to know that everything happened for a reason, for our higher selves’ benefit if you will, or the higher benefit of everyone involved, it might just take some time and patience to see how our “higher plans” are developing, sometimes not unfolding for many years or even decades later. It therefore helps to keep in mind that everything indeed happens for a reason, precisely when it is meant to happen.
This doesn’t mean that we should roll over and play dead waiting for something to happen to us, prayer is more of an interactive process, of us constantly asking, “How about this?,” and if the answer is “no” we can sit back and say, “Okay, how about this?” and on and on. Eventually we might get a resounding “Yes!” which keeps us going, it all depends on whether or not we’re asking the right (intellectually) kinds of questions. Further, we can’t always see what’s coming up next for us, so it’s also a good idea to pray for guidance while we’re expecting the unexpected, well before anything can happen, perhaps keeping it as simple as praying that we‘ll be in the right place at the right time. When an inevitable trauma then strikes nearby or to someone close to us, we can then express gratitude that things could have turned out much worse for us, and also compassion for those who have taken a direct hit. It’s this collision impact between gratitude and compassion where some highly significant messages can come through, we just need to keep our minds wide awake and alert to see what those Divine messages might be.
Breaking it down a bit further, our selfish ego simply prays for selfish stuff, so the caution always goes out to be careful what we ask for, we might just get it. “Success” in attaining self-centered things or worse, the unjustifiable favors we manipulate others for, can then fuel an overblown ego like a balloon ready to burst, leading to more grief than it’s worth. It is therefore more beneficial for everyone involved to pray for the truly self-less stuff like love, peace and further comprehension, compassionately praying for the easement of the pains and suffering of others but perhaps more importantly, praying compassionately for the lifting and healing of our own regrets and disillusions, the self-inflicted wounds we‘ve made to our own egos, the stuff we absolutely don‘t need anymore. True self compassion is therefore the only place where unconditional love can appear for us – only within our Divine selves – we can get into so much trouble when we expect to find it elsewhere, other than within the Divine grace of the dispassionate natural world, where God also resides.
Perhaps an ideal way to begin a prayer then would be “Please allow me to know – beyond any shadow of doubt – that absolutely everything is truly connected, my heart to your heart, my heart to that tree, your heart to that mountain (fill in your own connections), and I am truly grateful I have a mind that can think along these lines, are you listening heart? I don‘t know if I merely want this or absolutely need that but (… for this or something better.”)
See what happens, gladly take no for an answer and then repeat as “necessary,” asking slightly different questions until a “Yes!” appears. A “maybe” often signifies our inner divinity only wants us to acknowledge it for what it truly is, so it’s all good!