Do you know how powerful and practical prayer is as an expression of love for others? Prayerfulness is a virtue we can all experience, and you can too. Many people recognize the value of prayer and choose to make prayer a part of their life—a part of each morning, possibly, to start out their day. For those who pray, it helps them experience the feeling of “letting go.” As they pray throughout the day, it also helps them continually recognize that forces larger than themselves exist. Forces greater than their little ego-mind wants to admit or acknowledge exist. This is not to say that we are not powerful in ourselves or that creation doesn’t work through us. But let’s just say that even with our contribution, there are much more contributions being made by many, many others and the energy that surrounds us.
Prayer helps us to be able to trust and let go and to recognize what we have control over versus what we do not (have any control over). Prayer is a really great tool to help you practice the recognition of what you can control and what you cannot, and it helps us in letting go of trying to control situations or people outside of ourselves. Not only that, but then as you pray for those people you now recognize you cannot control, it opens your eyes to a greater awareness of how powerful and practical it is to really pray for others.
As I have looked at prayerfulness with self, I have concluded that there are a few things that prayer is in battle against: Wandering thoughts of our ego mind, a lack of intimacy with God’s character, and a lack of being open to living a virtuous life. All of that keeps us from a meaningful prayer life. But with discipline, we see that we can change those things as we recognize the virtue of prayer.
I would like to analyze prayerfulness with others. In looking at prayer as it pertains to others, I have a really great quote from John Calvin that I’d like to explore:
“Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.”
This is definitely a path I choose and work towards, as I feel like it is part of the path towards enlightenment and a spiritual awakening (or getting out of self). Praying for others will help to shift your focus from yourself to others and as you do, you will experience how powerful and practical it truly is.
Many people pray for themselves and what their wandering thoughts and ego mind wants and believes would be good for them. This is a very common thing people do with prayer, but is also helps people to recognize the tool of prayer as a process of letting go to a power greater than self. If we try to dictate in prayer for our own good, then we aren’t necessarily letting go or recognizing and respecting and honoring that there is a power greater than self out there.
So “… prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God…”. Let’s look at that, our own need. The ego mind perceives and believes it knows all and has stories we get caught up in, perceptions of self and others in life, and expectations of what those should look like. All those “should” and “shouldn’t” statements create a type of need—or perceived need I should say—that feels like a burden upon us. It becomes the weight we carry around and must let go. It is because of these thoughts, patterns, stories, and perceptions that we end up experiencing anger, hurt, resentment, and fear. They are burdens upon our mind, health, physical body, and wellbeing day after day.
When we feel our own need as a burden, we have to be able to pass it over and let go and lay it upon God (or the higher power that exists beyond us and within us). Prayer gives us the ability to pass on the burdens we create upon ourselves through our ego mind and perceptions and lay them upon our higher power. Also, to pray because “…we are so bound up in love…” and intertwined as people that we recognize we are co-creators in this worldly universal experience, where one choice or thought affects all others and the situations and circumstances around us. Every person’s energy, thought patterns, perceptions, and interactions with the world and universe affect all around them and us as well. We truly are all connected as one and bound to each other.
Having said that, can you see how every other human being creates burdens in their own lives just like we do? Think about that. Every human being has that ego mind with thought patterns, perceptions, expectations, fears, and stories they are experiencing burdens from as well. Those burdens take us all out of the natural state of peace and serenity available within each one of us, until we free ourselves from those thought patterns. When we free ourselves from the burden of the ego mind and experience the higher power that exists within us, we become a clearer channel to that energy all around us. We can then see how alike and similar we are all. Our eyes are opened to the fact that we are all trying to do the best we can with what we have. That then gives us compassion that we experience in love and loving types of thoughts, prayers and experiences with others.
We can feel how bound up in love we are for our fellow man when we begin to experience this connection to our higher power through prayer. We see how intertwined we all are and how we all procreate. “…we are so bound up in love with our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own…” We can actually see their need, their perceptions and ego mind, including their existence-types of needs such as food and shelter, and all of the basic needs we feel in ourselves. Prayer outside of ourselves helps us to see that the needs of others are not so different from our own, and we all battle with that same ego mind that weighs us down. We are able to feel their needs and even recognize the fear they may be creating for themselves based on their ego thinking.
Not only do we want to pass on our own burdens of these needs to God, but we want to help our fellow men pass on their burdens of their perceived needs. How can we do that? The way we can help is by making intercession for them. Intercession is the act of pleading on someone else’s behalf—the attempt to settle something or to help with resolution. To make intercession or plead on behalf of others and be able to look for peace for others through prayer is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.
I believe prayer is powerful because when I started praying more often, I did access that power that is greater than myself and that works through me (it is not a coincidence that many call it a higher power). It is very powerful and practical as we move through life and are able to recognize that we do not control others and cannot change others, even if we believe or have a perception of what might be healthier for them or what they are doing. There is very little way that someone can help another through ego minds or the thinking mind, which makes intercession for men through prayer so powerful and practical, and truly the best way to express our love for them.
Prayer is the best way to let go and know that just as in our own lives, there is a power greater than ourselves that we can actually see in action, occurring in all men and women’s lives as well. So thanks to John Calvin, because I think his quote really helps us look at the power and practicality of prayer and prayerfulness.
To recap John Calvin’s quote: “Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.”
If you would like more information about this or other services I offer, please contact me. I hope you are truly able to become more prayerful with others, and that this information helps you not only see the burden your ego mind puts upon you, but also to see that it happens to others as well. Just knowing that others feel burdened like you do will likely help you to experience what it means to be bound up in love for them. You can then begin to make intercession for others, knowing that prayer is the most powerful and practical way to express your love.