Since my last post in this project, I’ve been thinking about prayer. I knew I wanted to, at some point, write about what I view prayer as and why I do – or don’t – do it. After Eddie posted a question about prayer to tumblr a few days ago, I knew it was time to move past the mulling stage and start thinking a little harder on what prayer means to me.
When I responded to his post, I mentioned my mother attending Catholic school. I would hear a few tales here and there about her time there and learned a bit about the religion. Honestly, I think her stories are a part of while I sincerely thought about converting to Catholicism when I was first pursuing religion and spirituality in high school. Having been raised without religion, I was more or less an open canvas for religion. I knew a few things about the different sects of Christianity, but I knew the most about Catholicism. One of the things that appealed to me about it was the Hail Mary.
Thinking about prayer, I remember the Hail Mary. Whenever I wonder if I should pray to my deities, I remember the Hail Mary, too. I’ve never recited it (I only know the first two lines anyway), but having a sort of standardized prayer I could say as a sort of comforting mini ritual for myself and an offering to my gods appeals to me. Holding a rosary or a set of prayer beads in my hands, running my fingers along the beads and reciting a prayer to my gods appeals to me.
Whenever I think about prayer, though, it is this that I think of, this standard poem or hymn or whatever you’d like to call it, like the Hail Mary. Something with a touch of formality to it. I know that plenty of folks pray to their deities in other ways, more casual ways, but my mind cannot truly reconcile that with my personal idea of prayer. I natter at my deities a lot and I consider it devotional, but it doesn’t ring as prayer to me.
There are exceptions, of course. I think of the times I have been in true need or sorrow and clasped my hands, lowered my head, and prayed with all I was. The time I always think back to, with this image in mind, is when I found out about the events of September 11, 2001. That was also the first and only time I ever prayed to the Christian God (being unaware of what my relationship with Anubis really was).
So prayer to me has always been either a formalized recitation or something done in times of great distress. It never occurred to me that my talking aloud to my gods was prayer until late in my life, and by then it seemed too casual to reconcile that with prayer. Others disagree, of course, and that’s fine. I’m not one for telling others what they do is wrong, or I try not to be.
I would, eventually, like to write my own prayers to my gods. I’d like one for Anubis specifically, one to thank him when he helps me through a tough period and one for more every day use to recite with a set of prayer beads.