If the threats of nuclear war are getting to you and you need a new way to pray about the world’s frightening situation, you are not alone. It’s been hard to pray lately. The God I believe in calls peacemakers the children of God. So, when I hear people who claim to be Christians telling the President that God wants him to use force against another country, I get scared, mad and end up feeling powerless.
But there are ways to pray that don’t focus on violence and can give us our power back. If you need a new practice to get you through this dark time, I suggest what I call “The Desire Prayer.”
This is one of my favorite prayers because it allows us to get our desires before God openly, unabashedly and with feeling. That’s because you use all your senses to create—in your imagination—a scene that depicts what you desire and you pray in and through that desire.
Origins of the Desire Prayer
I first discovered this type of prayer in The Isaiah Effect, a book by Gregg Braden. He calls it “David’s Prayer,” named after a Native American friend who introduced him to the idea of surrounding yourself with your deepest desire and offering it to the Creator. In David’s prayer, David is in the drought-ridden desert Southwest and he intends to, as he puts it, “pray rain.”[i] Not pray for rain, but to enter into a way of prayer in which his gratitude for all of creation leads him to feel, touch, taste, smell and see what he believes the land needs most—rain. After doing that, David leaves the outcome up to the Creator. Braden, a student of quantum physics, contends that aligning ourselves, in gratitude, with our most fervent desire and then deeply feeling what it is like to have the desire fulfilled, is action that catalyzes change in the world. With this prayer, you can “pray peace.”
In a Celtic version of this practice, found in Tanis Helliwell’s Take Your Soul to Work, you do much the same.[ii] And again, you leave the outcome to God. Helliwell adds an important step, though. You ask God how you can assist in fulfilling this desire and then you watch for opportunities to do just that.
How to pray it
- Begin by taking a few moments to become calm. Say a prayer of gratitude for all that has been, all that is, and all that will be in your life.
- Let your heart’s deepest desire be stated before God. Take a few moments in silence to see if the desire remains the same or if you want to state it in a different way.
- Visualize your desire. Feel it. Touch it. Taste it. Smell it. Let it become real to you in your imagination. Linger there and see how the scene depicting your desire develops or changes. Stay with this step for several minutes.
- Let go of specific outcomes. Ask that God’s desire be fulfilled in your desire, or that God will transform your desire as needed. Notice what, if anything, changes as a result of that request.
- Ask God how you might assist in fulfilling this desire. Stay in silence as you allow space for God to speak in and through your imagination.
- Close by thanking God for this desire and for the opportunity to pray in and through it. Thank God for being present in this prayer.
- Spend a few moments right after the prayer reflecting on how it was to pray with a desire. What surprised you? Moved you? Inspired you? What disturbed you? How did you feel God’s presence in the midst of this prayer? Did anything about your desire change as you prayed it?
- In the days following this prayer, be aware of ways God may be offering you opportunities to live into the desire. When they do, take prayerful action and don’t forget to thank God for the opportunities and eyes to see them.
It is easy to get caught up in our desires and become overly self-concerned. This prayer helps us let go of our desires because we hand them over to God. Use this prayer when you have a desire that persists and feels important. Use this prayer to visualize and catalyze peace in the world.
If you like this prayer and are looking for even more ways to pray, you might enjoy my book 50 Ways to Pray from Abingdon Press. You’ll find this prayer and 49 others to experiment with.
Want to try spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees—regardless of where you live. I can work by phone, Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.
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[i] You can find this wonderful story in The Isaiah Effect (Three Rivers Press, 2000) pp. 160-173.
[ii] Take Your Soul To Work, Tanis Helliwell (Adams Media, 1999) pp. 299-300.
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