I am a sixties and seventies sort of gal, and one of the songs that always touched my heart was sung by Dionne Warwick, “I Say a Little Prayer for You.” It's a sweet song about holding someone in your heart as you go through the day. I believe in prayer in all its forms. And there certainly are many them!
A few years ago, I spoke about prayer with my friend and mentor, Sylvia Boorstein. I asked her if there was one best way to pray. She reminded me that every time we turn ourselves toward the Sacred we are engaged in prayer. This is also what she said to me: "Whatever particular meditation practice we do, we are ardently hoping, indeed praying, for a peaceful and compassionate heart, for our own well-being and for the well -being of others. The very act of stopping to reorient ourselves—which is central to all meditation and prayer practices—and to focus our intention for the good, is a prayer."
I know this to be true. Yet, sometimes I feel the need for petitionary prayer, a real asking for guidance or assistance, or for help shifting my energy when I am out-of-sorts. Do you do this? What's so puzzling to me is that if we believe wholeheartedly in prayer and know that it works, how is it we forget to do it? I call this forgetting phenomenon “spiritual amnesia.”
Often, when I converse with someone in a spiritual guidance situation, and we're discussing a pressing issue in his or her life, I'll ask if they've taken it to prayer. Nine times out of ten, they'll pause and say, "I guess I forgot all about that." I understand, because I do, too.
Sometimes prayer is the only thing that we can do. It is our singular course of action when we are in a difficult situation, or when we've received bad news. Sometimes the best thing I can do at times like these is to surrender to life as it is and say, "Help me."
Who am I asking for help? I'm not always sure. More often than not it's God as I understand It. Or a wise, enlightened being—someone who is "God" personified. (Mary, Jesus, the Buddha—even the spirit of a deceased loved one.) I pray to align myself with divine wisdom, with the Universal Heart. These personifications are, for me, representations of living in perfect alignment, with Love, with all that is right and true. Though at other times when I pray, I am aware of trying to connect with my sacred self (my wiser self) to re-ignite my inner spark of knowing, especially when it's grown dim.
Today, I'm singing and praying right along with Dionne Warwick, offering a little prayer for you, for me, for all of us.
©2016, Janice L. Lundy
Excerpted from my newest book:
"Thank You" Is My Prayer: Reflections, Prayers and Blessings For a Grateful Heart
A one-of-a-kind collection of original blessings, poems, affirmations and reflective essays to help you hold onto your grateful heart—even when times are difficult.
Learn more and read excerpts here.
In the last few weeks we have witnessed some of the most disturbing events in recent history. It's a challenging time to be alive. And it's a challenging time to stay steady, positive and open-hearted when there is so much hurt happening everywhere.
When times are tough, what do you do? How do you maintain your equanimity? How do you diffuse your frustration or anger? How do you calm your worry?
What helps me?
I go to the water's edge. (Today, I am at the library writing this, sitting overlooking Boardman Lake.) I stay away from crowded, noisy places. I honor my need to be still and reflect on what is happening around me and within me. I pray.
Lately, I go to short prayers. Organic prayers. "Help us." "Help me." "Please ease the pain of all those who are suffering." "May the heaviness in our hearts be lifted." "May we not lose faith or give up hope."
Sometimes, I pick up a book that contains beautiful prayers; prayers whose language is so universal, so openhearted and filled with love for the Divine that all my emotions pale and bow to the passion expressed by the poet.
Today, I am perusing God Makes the Rivers to Flow: Sacred Literature of the World, selected by Eknath Easwaran. If your thoughts are running wild or your emotions feel difficult to control, you may want to go to prayers/meditations like these to anchor your attention. And keep your heart open.
My new book, Portable Peace: A Weekly Guidebook is an equally valuable resource for staying steady in challenging times. It offers 52 original practices, one each week, to help you stay calm-bodied, clear-minded, and open-hearted no matter what is happening in your life. Or in the world!
Learn more and order your copy here.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.