THE MECHANICS OF PRAYER: When The Prayers You Make Make You
My mother, not a kind or generous mother, told me that my first words were the Lord’s Prayer.
I have always treasured that knowledge, holding it close as an affirmation of who I am.
My badge of identity, as it were.
But after the past year or so I have come to a new appreciation of that choice of mine.
To reach out into the air and decide which words I was hearing around me were the ones I wanted to speak aloud.
I have experienced something strong and heart-changing in the past few months.
It has to do with my prayers.
Of course I have prayed all my life.
At the dinner table.
For other people.
From time-to-time, even for myself.
Prayer is a part of my life. In the doing. In the studying under God. In the learning from experience.
But, really, until very recently, prayer was just prayer.
I did it. And then I went on with my life.
The intensity of prayer increased when I was taught about miracles.
I define miracles as a stepping out of time to ensure the outcome.
Basic prayer is made up of three things: the petitioner, God, and time.
All must align for a prayer to be answered.
I’ve written this before, so that’s all I will say about it here.
But even then, even after accomplishing miracles became a real part of my life – a time of “doing” the prayer (whatever that entailed) and then stepping aside and seeing if I was actually successful, (I find, successful, to be a coarse word for this kind of thing, but I don’t know how else to express the idea any other way) it would just be an event that would end.
Except there it would be: the result. The happening. The prayer answered absolutely.
Nevertheless, life just went on as normal.
If any of this can be considered normal.
It was normal for me.
Which has always been a painful twist in my soul.
Normal for me. Normal not for the people around me.
No matter the prayer or its result, there was always life to get on with.
Until the next prayer came along.
Over the past few years I have changed the way that I pray for a “big” prayer. Whether it was a determined petition on my part or part of the work of a miracle, I began to design my own prayer cycle.
For as long as I can remember I had used rosaries. I rarely, if ever, used the assigned prayer cycle for it. It didn’t take me long to redesign the pattern to fit my way of praying.
But there was always a problem with my praying the rosary: I prayed the Lord’s Prayer and the Gloria Patri on the large beads, and my petition on the ten small ones.
Well, saying the petition ten times in a row would put me into a stupor fairly easily. Especially if the petition was a powerful one.
When I reached a large bead I felt like a drowning man who had found a small island to crawl up on. Sometimes I would just stay there and repeat the Lord’s Prayer until I felt strong enough to go on.
I would try to stretch out the rosary over the day so the impact would not be so solid. But after I reached a point of saturation I just couldn’t go on.
Some rosaries I could pray straight through.
Using other forms of prayer beads helped also, although they are dedicated beads (say to Archangel Michael) so the prayers I felt needed to apply to the saint or angel attached to the beads.
Yes, I know. Sometimes I think too much about things.
But, in a way, that’s kind of my job.
And I’m good at my job.
Then came a day when I really, really wanted to get a prayer through. I couldn’t work it as a miracle because it was not assigned to me by God.
It just had to be a very serious petition. A petition to save someone’s life.
So I decided to try something new.
Instead of the rosary, and because I found the Lord’s Prayer so calming while praying the rosary, I developed a prayer cycle of saying the Lord’s Prayer every minute for thirty minutes.
I said this throughout the day, with prayer periods in between of the petition.
It actually worked.
The person I prayed for survived and went on to live a happy, functional life in spite of what her doctors had told her was going to happen.
I didn’t settle on this way of praying for a while because it took up a whole day and was exhausting.
So when other urgent matters arose I used other methods, even the rosary, which I worked on to get stronger using.
A few months ago I was called on to accomplish a miracle, which then became a kind of stream of miracles.
I can’t actually say that the first one went easily because of its dimensions, but I worked out a way to make the praying more efficient.
In the minute that I said the Lord’s Prayer, I also said my petition.
Sixty seconds is quite a long time, especially when I whittle down my petition to just its core.
So the first one went: twelve prayer cycles of thirty prayers (Lord’s Prayer and petition) over two days (six cycles each day).
And, bingo, went like a charm.
Wait not that many days, and a second one dropped.
So I intensified it.
Six prayer cycles of thirty prayers each for the first day, then beginning at midnight, a prayer cycle every hour for the next ten hours.
I slept a lot the day following all those prayers.
And this one, too, went smoothly.
Then the third one. An assignment that shocked me and took me a bit to figure out how to accomplish.
I was to pray a cycle that imitated Joshua’s battle with Jericho.
So I thought: Joshua circled the city. One hour is a circle. So my prayer cycles became sixty minutes long. Sixty prayers.
Joshua circled Jericho once a day for six days, and seven times on the seventh.
So I would pray one prayer cycle of sixty minutes for six days and then seven prayer cycles on the seventh.
It seemed logical and right. But that seven-hour prayer binge in one day made me feel little and inadequate.
I would never be up to that.
I need to back up a little, though. I’ve skipped something.
The reason I am writing this.
I found the first prayer cycle to be very calming. And exciting. I could feel the prayers in me actually moving something in the world. And that was neat.
But the second prayer cycle – the one that went through the night – changed something inside me. It felt like something was shifting in my soul.
I felt like I was saying the prayers. Not that I was saying the prayers to God, for God. But that I was doing the praying.
If that makes any sense.
That I had a voice, alongside God. Not just being a spokesman for God in the world.
I have done a bit of study in the last few years on my own soul design. And it has some unique qualities. Well, one especially unique quality.
It’s a kind of carrier soul.
I’ve studied another carrier soul, so I know that they are out there. And perhaps they are all unique in their own way.
During that night of prayer I sensed that what I was carrying in my soul – had been carrying all my life, was designed just to do this carrying – was opening.
I’d never seen any “light” in my soul. That night of hourly prayers caused a beam of light to appear. To shine out.
The work of all these prayers was changing the nature of my soul.
I was coming to life, in a way.
I was coming into life.
I have never really felt part of the world, but after that night I felt fully in the world.
And there was a contentment in me that I had never, ever felt before.
This probably makes no sense.
But I am functioning as a different person in the world today.
Then came the week of the “Jericho” prayers.
The six days I knew I could do easily.
Well, as easily as it was from doubling the amount of prayers I said in one session.
At first, I let myself have a bathroom break in the middle, and always made sure I had enough water on hand.
I said my prayers aloud, so my throat got very dry and sore.
The six days were finished. And I wondered how I would do the next day.
Would I fail? Surely I would fail.
So I thought it through. Instead of beginning, say, at 6:00 a.m. and spreading the seven hours through the day until midnight, I would begin at midnight, and spread the seven hours through the whole 24-hour period.
And it worked. I had plenty of time to oversleep and push the sessions around because of all the hours between times of prayer.
And I got through it.
The fourth prayer commitment that I took up involved an easier schedule than the last.
Six thirty-prayer cycles the first day. Twelve the next, divided up into four three-cycle periods. (I would pray a cycle at the top of the hour for three hours.) 540 prayers in all.
It does take a few days after the effort to “debrief.” I have noticed that doing this is a bit like being electrocuted. The energy in my body changes completely.
My mind gets shockingly clear.
And I have to let myself calm down.
Come back to Earth.
So I can eat and sleep normally again.
But what has shocked me about this is how I keep changing. How assured I feel about certain things.
How strong I feel.
About things I would have normally shrugged my shoulders about.
I absolute love learning that prayer, like other disciplines, isn’t just about the prayer getting to God, but the effort of praying actually changes the person making the prayer.
I have to laugh.
There are five realms of God: obedience, discipline, surrender, acceptance, and grace.
It took me forever to “get” the concept of discipline. It wasn’t until I realized that discipline is all about following that I began to feel I could study it. (The disciples are those who followed Jesus. We define them by their following.)
And now here it is. My developed disciple of prayer.
Of all the people in the world, me getting disciplined.
And enjoying it.
Could climb up on the roof and crow about it.
And if that isn’t something at my time of life and with my hard head, nothing is.
And, for me, it’s all about saying the Lord’s Prayer. Just as I began to do when I was an infant.
Very interesting. My first phrase was part of this, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good for his mercy endures forever”. I am now beginning to understand this at a deeper level in my life. It is like I am coming back to this. Thank-you.
You are very welcome. And thank you for your kind words. ~ Julia