The Power of Prayer
The power of prayer can take many forms. Bear Heart said, “Let your every step be as a prayer.”
What does that mean to you?
To me it means walking the earth each day with respect. And it means being ready to offer a prayer at a moment’s notice.
And prayer can take the form of acts of kindness, because that carries the same energy as prayer.
Learning how to pray
I was raised a Catholic and prayer was something one memorized: the Our Father or the Hail Mary were the two most popular prayers I learned.
When I started attending Native American ceremonies, I was in awe of how people prayed from their heart, in their own words. It took a year or so of being in that environment before I felt comfortable praying out loud in ceremony. Now it’s second nature.
Over the years, I have learned many ways to pray. Last month I shared a post on how to pray for money.
Actually, everything we come across in life is appropriate for a prayer. Hence, let your every step be as a prayer. Be ready, and aware, as to when prayer may be helpful.
“In the life of the Indian there was only one inevitable duty, the duty of prayer, the daily recognition of the Unseen and Eternal. His daily devotions were more necessary to him than daily food.” –Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyesa), SANTEE SIOUX
The many forms of prayer
Bear Heart taught that prayer is what’s in our hearts, not just rules and rituals.
Another teacher told me this: “there’s the letter of the law and the spirit of the law; which does God listen to?”
I believe a sincere heart is the most important part of prayer.
Expressing gratitude is one of the most basic forms of prayer. The elders teach that when you pray for something, show your belief and confidence by saying “thank you” right then and there. And then when the prayer is answered, say thank you again.
I don’t think we say thank you nearly enough in life.
Over the years, I have attended many Native American ceremonies where it was important that the weather be clear. The elders pray for clear skies and get them. The weather always holds back and it is typical that when the ceremony ends, the rains fall.
Bear Heart shared in The Wind Is My Mother about his praying for snow at Copper Mountain, Colorado in order to end a snow drought and save jobs at the ski resort. He explained that the forces of nature help us when we make requests with respect and for a higher good, not just self-aggrandizement.
Road kill: Pray that the animal had/has a pain-free death and pray for protection for the animal nations who live in proximity to humans.
When you hear a siren: “May the rescue workers and those they are going to help be at their best.”
Accidents: Pray that everyone gets the help they need.
Children: Pray for a happy, healthy, protected life and that the child grows into old age to see his or her children’s children.
Elders: Pray that they have support, health and loving family surrounding them.
When natural disasters take place, pray for protection for all the nations of the earth [both animal and human] and that help be quick and efficient and loving.
Hospitalization: May everyone caring for my friend/relative be at their very best.
Bear Heart’s prayer for those in need: “It’s good to send out prayer-like energies when we see something that is out of balance in people’s lives. If I see some drunk in an alley sleeping it off, and people are passing by snickering and laughing, I can’t help but say a prayer, ‘Take care of him, let no harm come to him. Bless him, so that in time he can salvage the good that You have implanted in him.’ I don’t know the person, his background, tribe or name. That’s not important — what’s important is that he’s a human being.”
One of the best prayers I have learned from Native Americans is to pray for health and help. Each person has their own life path and lessons and we don’t always know what is best for them. But if you pray for them to have health and help, you’ve covered all possible outcomes.
Prayers from Bear Heart in The Wind Is My Mother
Morning Prayer: “I thank You for another day. I ask that You give me the strength to walk worthily this day so that when I lay down at night I will not be ashamed.”
Evening Prayer: At the end of each day, face West and say, “Thank you for all the things that happened today, the good as well as the bad.”
For emotional, physical and mental health: Lay down with your navel towards the Earth and your head to the North, saying, “Grandmother Earth, please send your healing energy through this body and bring it back into balance.”
To find an answer to a problem: Face East and think about your problem, saying: “Grandfather Sun, you come each day to dispel the darkness. In that same way I ask you to shed your light so that I may see where to take the next step.”
If you have lost a loved one: Facing South, say: “Help me to know my loved one is with the Great Spirit and has found rest and peace. One day we will be reunited, but until then I ask for help to keep going on in life.”
Do we need research on the power of prayer?
A new study in England found that six out of seven people believe that prayers can be answered, despite a dramatic drop in formal religious observance. That’s an amazing and wonderful statistic.
Research on the power of prayer is all over the map. It’s just not easy to study the outcomes because so many factors abound. But those of us who believe in the power of prayer don’t need researchers to tell us it works.
“If you believe it, it’s true. Period.” Arapaho elder
A prayer goes out around the planet like a wave of love; I have total confidence that it helps. How do you feel about it?
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Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman” and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com