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pray_hands.GIF (680 bytes) Prayer & Spirituality
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I Don't Know How to Pray

by Alexandra Reynolds

I started praying out of fear, that if I only prayed during a San Francisco earthquake that God would turn his back on me and say, you chose to believe in me when you needed me, at your convenience. I have prayed for the same things over and over again, because I wasn’t getting the things that I asked for. During the most desperate moments of my spiritual darkness, my prayers would consistent of begging God for mercy. When I felt that God was not listening I grew angry with him. I pouted. I wasn’t sure if I wanted anything to do with a God who did nothing to intervene with human sufferings. At times, I wasn’t sure if I knew who God is to me.

There has been many times through-out my life when I set out on a spiritual journey to find out who God really is to me. I have been a Catholic, by my cultural inheritance. I have studied Buddhism, Zen and American Indian beliefs, searching for the source of the light. But there is one journey that resonates in my mind more than the others.

My childhood neighbors were the most loving family I knew. I could recount numerous times when they offered my sister and I refuge from my mom’s abusive behavior. They feared for us and they tried many times to convince my mother that she needed God in her life. They belonged to a church where one member of the congregation would receive a message from God and relay it while speaking in tongues. The leaders of the congregation, a husband and wife team were the only members with the gift of interpretation.

The teenagers were separated from the adults. So during services I remained upstairs, where thankfully, no one spoke in tongues. One Sunday, this teenage boy stood up to share with everyone his belief, that the devil must dwell in me because he was having sexual thoughts about me while trying to read his bible. I sat there speechless and red faced, as everyone stared at me. I managed to lift my body out of the chair to join my neighbors downstairs, where there was a good chance of encountering someone speaking in tongues, but where there was no chance I was going to be accused of being the devil. I sat there quietly and took it all in.

An hour after the contribution basket passed around, the leader interrupted the praying and singing to express how ashamed and upset she felt with the meager contributions. She went on to list out all the cost associated with operating a church. She stated that the basket would be passed around again. In almost the same breath, she asked if anyone had a garage, or a room where a family of four could live. I couldn’t believe that these words were spoken by the leader but than again, this was a woman who felt the need to remind the congregation that she gave up a good paying job for God. I was outraged. I stood up and didn’t close my mouth until all my opinions were listed out. The teenagers from upstairs came down to witness the devil in action, as I told the leaders, that she and her husband were stealing from people who were already poor. I told them that they lacked the warmth that comes from radiating love and compassion. And I asked why she and her husband were the only two who could understand the ramblings of a message from God. It was my neighbor’s turn to be speechless and red faced. They stopped inviting me to their church.

I have learned a lot from my spiritual travels. I have encountered many people with different faiths and beliefs. I remember being invited to a Buddhist temple to learn the teaching of Siddhartha. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how he must have felt that day that he stepped away from the fig tree and said, “I am awake”. I remember feeling this calm and peaceful energy in the temple. There was only love, no judgment, no displays of appearance, only love. It was wonderful. I was amazed to see how easily every body went into a peaceful meditation by focusing on the awareness of their breath. I felt this wonderful vibration in and around me as they began to chant. I was beginning to realize just how unaware I was of my own spirituality.

In my quest to learn about all beliefs, I naturally took the next step into the Zen belief. I laugh at myself as I remember being invited to a Zen retreat by woman I had just met. It was very late when we arrived but people were still hanging around the outdoor spas. I didn’t give it a second thought when I noticed that nobody was wearing swimming suit. It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I realized I was in a nudist Zen retreat. I made a plan to leave when nobody was looking, but that moment never came. And I’m glad because I would have missed out on so much. The woman who had brought me to this Zen retreat explained to me that my being there was powered by a greater force. She had invited me because she felt compelled to. She told me that this was part of my spiritual journey and not to be afraid to be in a state of just being, one in which things are accomplished without any expanding effort on my part. That weekend, I learned about the harmony in duality, the meaning behind the yin-yang symbol. I was encouraged to find the harmony in the male and female, good and bad, easy and difficult and joy and sorrow, in my life. I learned that one has no meaning without the other. I learned that a spiritual journey is fueled by the seekers ongoing questioning and re-examination of long standing assumptions, habits and beliefs.

The day I met Tony, I embarked on a quest for knowledge of his Native American culture and beliefs. I learned what it truly means to respect mother Earth. The women from the tribes were among some of the best storytellers I have ever encountered. They shared with us stories of grandmother Moon who lights our way in times of darkness while grandfather Sun sleeps at night…continued on a separate posting.

See Also:

Petitioning for Your Needs
Human beings are blessed with a unique gift: the gift of prayer or petition to the Infinite for our needs. A religious person would call it prayer; others may call it petition or meditation.

Do You Experience God?
We experience God when our deepest intention is to be loving rather than controlling. Inner emptiness is the result of not experiencing God due to controlling behavior.

During her inspirational speaking engagements, Alexandra Reynolds, a gifted storyteller, draws on her insightful stories, painful experiences and hard lessons to inspire women to re-examine re-evaluate and rebuild their lives. She uses her natural storytelling abilities as an avenue to awaken the imagination to a life of purpose. http://www.balanceofwomanhood.com

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