I was having lunch recently with a dear friend who was going through a hard time and I asked her if she prayed. She said she hadn’t really done so in awhile and I told her that I prayed most every night. I didn’t always. My parents for various reasons didn’t bring me up in a religious environment and I never felt like I was missing that much. I was definitely on the agnostic side in my teens and 20s. But I think the person that changed all that was my stepmom. While she didn’t go to church, she had a very strong faith and prayed a lot. And she would always let me know that she was praying for me. Somehow, no matter what I was struggling with, whether it was my intense fear of getting on an airplane after 911 or the nervousness of interviewing for a dream job or having my heart broken by some guy who didn’t deserve my tears, I knew she was praying for me. So somewhere in my 30s, I can’t pinpoint when, I decided I’d give it a try, too. And once I did, I noticed my life changed in many positive ways. I don’t know if that was just a coincidence, but I tend to think not. As my friend and I talked more about prayer, she asked me what I prayed for. I thought that was a good question, because in the beginning, I didn’t know how to pray and I didn’t know whom to ask. Was there a secret formula? I did ask a few spiritual friends and they helped me a lot by giving me some structure. So if it helps, and you’re wondering how to pray, like I was when I first started, here’s my conversation with God every night (well, most every night – sometimes I fall asleep – then find myself apologizing the next morning):
Thank you for my beautiful cat who is so nice and loving and sweet and is such a good boy. (If my cat is sitting next to me, I might meow to him).
Thank you for _____________________________________(three to five good things that happened today – even if it was the worst day ever – did I see the clouds? Hear the birds? Have a stranger smile at me?)
Please watch over our brave troops and bring them home safely to their families and friends. And please watch over their brave, beautiful dogs.
Please protect the animals and help me to protect them, too.
Please give us LOTS of rain. (I live in Southern California)
Please watch over my family and friends.
Please watch over and guide ______________________________________(I say specific names of family members and friends and what they are struggling with)
Please watch over me personally and professionally (I give examples of where I need guidance)
Please watch over those I’ve loved (I list the names of all the people and pets who have passed in my life)
Thank you for everything Lord, I am truly grateful.
So I told my friend that I would pray for her. And I think that made her feel better. I often want to tell people that I’ll pray for them, but not knowing they’re religious affiliation, sometimes I feel weird doing so. Instead, I mostly say, “I’ll think the good thoughts for you.” It’s always nice to hear when those good thoughts are answered for me and my family and friends – not to mention, the world in general.
For some more ideas, you can check out: http://www.spiralgoddess.com/InterFaith_Daily_Prayers.html
Word to the wise: A little prayer goes a long way. I’ve seen the power of prayer in my own life and those of others. Even if you’re skeptical, how can it hurt?
Have you always prayed? Are there any prayers you’d like to share? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”