There are a lot of people who live day to day and without a real purpose.

Are you one of those people?

We just do what we are supposed to do and want for more.

Many people just don’t see that there is something deeper and more meaningful to life.  We try to be the prettiest we can be, with a good body, nice hairstyle, the biggest television, a grand home and fancy cars.  We are always wanting more.  Instead of looking at the exterior things, we would be wise to look inside ourselves. 

“The accouterments of life were so rich and varied, so elaborated, that almost no place at all was left for life itself. Each and every accessory was so costly and beautiful that it had an existence above and beyond the purpose it was meant to serve – confusing the observer and absorbing attention.”
― Thomas Mann

Prayer and meditation not only bring you closer to God, they provide health benefits.  In tests, people who prayed (meditate) for a minimum of two weeks not only showed reduced stress, they also had a stronger immune system, better sleep, a better heart rate and lower blood pressure.   In addition to this, the test subjects also had better mental capacity with an improved memory and better test performance.

When you add spiritual actions like forgiveness and gratitude, your mind becomes clearer and more open to growth and prayer.

Meditation is not exclusively an Eastern spiritual tradition, like some people think.  Going back to the earliest of times, it is a Christian and Jewish tradition as well.  Meditation has something to offer all beliefs.  Instead of chanting Hindu mantras, you simply pray as you would in church, just not as a community, as a simple communication between you and God.

I learned the value of meditating by signing up to participate in perpetual adoration at my church.  Somehow I got stuck with an hour in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.  Tell me that isn’t hard to settle down for!  I was all wound up from the day to day work challenges that are prevalent in my business, then went to church and had to find a way to settle down enough to communicate with God in a meaningful way!  The first couple times were very difficult.  I ran in at the last minute, knelt down…and didn’t have a clue how to slow my mind down.  I pulled out the bible…and frantically (because that was my state) looked for a couple of versus that my sister in law had talked to me about over dinner.  I never found it because I just couldn’t slow down enough to concentrate.  After the first few weeks, I gave up reading the bible to slow myself and simply closed my eyes.  I tried to quit thinking.  I just tried to be.  After a few attempts it worked…I still had things pop into my head, thoughts and feelings and replays of something that happened a week or so before.  For the most part, just by closing my eyes and quieting my thoughts, I was able to get to a place that I could communicate with God without words or conscious thoughts.  I sometimes begin and end my quiet time with a prayer.  That helps to settle me down and remind me why I am there.  I believe that prayer, especially the quiet time, is valuable in maintaining our clarity and purpose.

I was given a book one Christmas on how to pray to get what you want.  To me, that is just wrong and defeats the whole purpose of trusting in God.  I am finally wise enough to know that we don’t always get what we pray for, we get what we need and what God wants us to have.  I gave up praying for anything a long time a go.  I pray for what is best, because God always knows better than I do what that is.   I have absolute trust in the results if I put in the work.  God takes very good care of me.  Things don’t always turn out the way that I think they should, or even the way I would like, but every time, without fail, if I look back, it is for the best and the way that it should be.

There are many scientific studies that show that beyond the physical and spiritual benefits of praying, there are measurable results as well.  In the tests, a group of people prayed for things like fungus not to grow.  The results showed that the fungus actually did have growth that was retarded.  There have even been tests where they measured the results of prayer on healing that showed positive results.  There have also been studies that show just the opposite.  The studies themselves are not perfect, in that they can’t cover everything.   They may be able to measure number of participants and results.  They can not measure intent, expectation or divine intervention.

Prayer needs to be an act of faith, without expectation of results.

There is a lot of power when people come together to pray.  Praying with others offers support and community.  I grew up praying with others, so it is a natural act for me.  We even get to sing together when we don’t have good singing voices!  The louder the better!  I go to church and watch my granddaughter’s class participating in their prayer service.  It is beautiful; they pray loudly, they sing loudly and they do the cute little hand gestures while they sing…with their whole heart and soul.  If you ever wonder about the power of group prayer…this is where you can feel it without doubt.

~Cathy

copyright Cathy Sykora 2012
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