From the Buddhist perspective, prayers rely upon our own inner power and innate basic goodness. Too often prayers are a mere laundry list of our material desires that reinforces our clinging and grasping at things we mistakenly think will bring us happiness.
At its most fundamental level, prayer is a form of energy that helps us connect to our inner consciousness, while also connecting us with the vast web of interdependence. In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “The Energy of Prayer,” Larry Dossey in the introduction says, “For what is prayer but communication with the Absolute, from whence we arose, with whom we are connected, and to whom we shall return?”
If prayer is a bridge to the Absolute, then our prayer should have the energy of faith, compassion and love. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “If our prayer lacks these elements, then it is like trying to use a telephone when there is no electricity in the wire. The mere fact that we pray doesn’t lead to a result.”
Therefore, prayer has the potential to transform us. It can transform us from the grasping and clinging to material possessions to connecting us with the transcendent Absolute.
Pastor emeritus Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ, Kansas City, Mo.: When we pray, we exercise the very best of freedoms, the freedom to communicate with God through the value of prayer. This is the primary advantage. It’s a privilege to be able to address God on behalf of self and others. A prayer-praise is given by the psalmist when he said, “I entreated thy favor with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:58a).
Jesus made prayer a spiritual value for strength against temptations of all kinds. He taught these words, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13a). Prayer is used as spiritual warfare against moral weakness. Jesus said: “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
The Bible makes prayer a constant. The lessons are to pray always in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18) and to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). With emphasis, heaven makes prayer faith dogma with such words as “Men ought always to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1b).” Praying is more than a body position, but a condition of mind and spirit.
The advantage and the freedom to pray are constantly with us. The meaning of prayer is greater than the word itself. A sincere prayer habit on a daily basis energizes the human spirit.Send your questions for our religion columnists to Helen Gray at The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.