The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer February 24, 2016

communion-798378_640I had the privilege of attending a multifaith seminary (Claremont School of Theology). This learning environment meant that in any given class, there were a variety of faith traditions, and even multiple interpretations of the same tradition. This often led to fascinating discussions before and after class meetings in which we would discuss and learn from our differences.

One of my favourite of these encounters was the night we shared “the hill upon which I’ll die” — the core theological or religious concept which no argument will ever shake from one’s foundation. For some who had survived suicidal thoughts or the debilitating effects of addiction, it was Jesus’s resurrection. Others held on to the trinity, and how the multiple-within-one of a divinity spoke to the nuanced and dimensional aspects of human existence. For me, it’s the power of prayer.

For me, prayer is working to have a heightened awareness of energy and power and how to shift it around for the good of ourselves and others. Starhawk defines prayer as “the art and practice of changing consciousness at will.” The Pagan community caught my interest when I was growing up because they were teaching these ideas, acknowledging this metaphysics of how the world works and interacts. I took this in, and held it over and against many (NOT all) of the Christian churches that surrounded me in the Bible belt that tended to ignore not only the core teachings of Jesus, but also what seemed to me to be an obvious way to bring about the salvation they wanted for themselves and the world.

I am first and foremost a Unitarian Universalist. I’ve written before about how I believe Earth-centered religious beliefs and traditions are essential to our long-term survival. But I also believe that what I’ve been given from the Pagan communities about working with energy — raising it, sending it, grounding it, opening and closing circles, and safe practices — is absolutely essential to a life in which we are in relationships with each other. We must be aware of our power, or lack of it, in any given situation. We must understand how we can help or harm. Prayer and energy work that is done by oneself is just as important as the work done in groups — it gives us perspective, humility, and discernment.

What I think about theology, soteriology, pnuematology, etc., has changed over the years, and that’s a good thing. I hope I never stop learning and growing. But the power of prayer, of working with magick, of learning how to shift and shape energy to heal and support the world, is the hill upon which I will die. I use it liturgy design, in pastoral care, in preparing sermons. I use it for my own self-care and spiritual growth. It is one of the most precious gifts given to me by the Pagan community, and is one of the important tools we have for effecting change in the multiverse.

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