Among any kind of pagan group (I'm just lumping us all together for brevity) I find the term prayer itself to have gotten a bad rap. People shun the term and the practice because of the Christian ethic around prayer. Pagans want to separate from Christianity and in doing so many have separated from prayer.
Now I'm not talking about prayer as in get on your knees with hands together and recite a litany. You can, I have no problems with that and sometimes I do. But prayer is more than just that. There can be simply mindful meditation which becomes prayer. Prayer can be enjoying a meal or drink with diety or it can be conversational- just talking to your God about whatever is happening at the time. Prayer doesn't have to be only about the big issues, it can be day to day life. My experience is that the Gods, at least those I follow, enjoy being made a part of one's life. You don't go to Grandma with only big issues, you also go to her just for meaningless conversation and a cup of tea. It is a giving of time, thought. and love.
Prayer is beautiful. This was driven home to me the other night in a way I never expected. Some of my devotional practice includes a simple connection exercise. Just getting closer. It accidentally started for me when I woke one morning to the wondrous sensation of floating in/on Loki, feeling Him around me, cradling me. One has to be incredibly open to feel this, the God is also within you. But, being far bigger than I, the overwhelming sensation is of He around me.
So the other night I was working on this connection with Heimdallr. I was floating in this soft, enveloping glow that can be Him when realized there was a ribbon of sound. I gently focused on the sound and heard voices. Several voices, layered on top of each other. Different languages, different rhythms. One voice was male, moderate of tone, and he chanted in a foreign tongue. Another pleading. A high pitched woman talking almost conversationally. Other voices woven together into a ribbon of love. I realized within the instant I was hearing prayers; a ribbon of prayer. I did throw out the query to Heimdallr asking if it was, I felt His affirmative. I pulled away, I had no interest in hearing what people were saying or asking of Him. Not my business.
The event was but a few seconds but was a profound experience. The ribbon of prayer, that ribbon of love and trust that drifts through the Gods, was amazing. I say drifts through the Gods because I have to believe that any sincere prayer to any God will get to that God. May not look like a ribbon of adoration to the God in question but it does get there. I can't believe this ribbon of prayer only occurs with Heimdallr.
There is a saying that one only finds quality time within a quantity of time. This is true. This is also likely true of prayer. If one never prays, how can a quality prayer built of love, trust, and adoration be built, be exercised? Don't wait for a blot, a sumbel, a circle, or a Holy Day to pray to your God.
I turned to Christian apologetics to find what prayer really is. Some of you will turn from this blog merely due to that source but there isn't anything wrong with the Christian faith in and of itself. Also, in many ways, Christians (good ones) do have prayer down pat. So bear with this here. Matthew J. Slick, founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, has a beautiful description for prayer that can be applied to any belief or religious structure. He writes:
"Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian. Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope. Prayer is the privilege of touching the heart of the Father through the Son of God, Jesus our Lord."*
Of course he wrote from a christian perspective, but add a plural to God, change Christian to whatever your faith structure, change Father and Son of God to appropriate diety for you. Listen to the message. Take the time to give of yourself to your God/ess. Speak to them, tell them of your day, your life, your wishes, and dreams. Tell them what you can do for them- make yourself useful in service. 'Prayer is the practice of the presence of God.' Be present with your God/ess.
Just pray- send out those ribbons of prayer. They are received and bring beauty to the Gods. In the doing so, because it is all Gifu, prayer brings beauty to you.