The Essence of Prayer Is Beyond Culture

How you pray is a personal expression of your soul

At the heart of things it makes no difference whether we kneel and make the sign of the cross, prostrate ourselves times a day, light candles, chant mantras, sit cross-legged and meditate, or commune with nature.

The essence of the inquiry, “How do you pray?,” is not dependent on culture, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. How you dance in ecstasy, bow in gratitude, and cry out for guidance are personal expressions of your soul.

As people are cracking under pressure, it’s time to build bridges and bless each other, soul to soul. How do we connect with the larger aspect of ourselves that is known by many names? How do we honor this essence that is larger than any church, mosque, temple, synagogue, or limited belief?

So I continue to ask, “How do you pray?” Is it an hour a week at a designated place of worship, or do you take your prayers out to the streets? Perhaps if we ask each other not “What do you do?” but “How do you pray?” we will find that we have much more in common than we have differences. We truly are one people with one spirit called by so many beautiful names.

Today my prayer is:

“Spirit of Love, you are the balm that soothes our broken hearts. You fill us and heal us with your compassionate wisdom. You give us the courage to reach out a hand. Together we walk as one.”

I’d like to share a letter I received from Israel during a time of unrest. Shiffi shares the discontent she feels, both inside herself and within the collective, and how this inquiry and book deepened her ability to relax, helping her see the bigger picture and envision a brighter future.

Dear Celeste, Thank YOU!
 
 When I received your book during this last summer’s war (I live in Northern Israel), I felt submerged as never before under waves of hopelessness-for this country and Palestine, & for the world actually.
 
 The spiritual and psychological tools and practices which have served me for decades, and always direct me to the calm, happy, peaceful space inside, weren’t preventing the utter hopelessness into which I woke up every morning.
 
 And then came your book, a gift from heaven, asking me, the exact right question: “How Do You Pray?”
 
 Long story short, the hopelessness is gone, evaporated, and replaced by possibility for redemption, reconciliation, reformation. Though the external national circumstances haven’t changed yet, external proof isn’t here yet, the internal is choosing to embrace the possibility for a liberating change, mutually, collectively.
 
 Your book provides me with a doorway to walk through, and when I did, I found all these illuminating people, sitting with each other, and with me, sharing their response to the question “How Do You Pray?”
 
 In a matter of days of reading/ingesting this book, I relaxed enough to see the bigger picture, to envision a much brighter future.
 
 I’m seeing the “How Do You Pray?” book on many millions of bedsides, throughout the world. It’s the perfect book to read before sleep & dream time. And during both rough times and great times, equally.
 
 Someone once asked the scribe of
A Course in Miracles: If she could describe the message of the Course in one word, what would it be? Her response was: “Relax.”
 
 Same could be said for your book. In one word, it got me to Relax. I am forever grateful, to you, to the contributing writers, and everybody associated with bringing it to light… to light the world.
 
 Much love. Many blessings to you and all your relations. Peace.

And I heard again from Shiffi recently:

… [I] did a happy dance when I read about your blogging on/for HuffPost… am not surprised at this book’s continuing impact on the people, the world soul. It continues to be fountain of light in our house… it sits very centrally here, where it’s always visible, and available… a gift that keeps on giving.

With love and gratitude to you!
 Blessings.
 Peace.


Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on June 17, 2016.