Date: October 19, 2018 04:45PM
Because of my eclectic religious/philosophical history--raised Hindu, which proved to be ENORMOUSLY important in my lifetime philosophical thinking...liberally exposed to many different kinds of Christianity as I was growing up...some intellectual inquiries along the way into Buddhism, Native American, and indigenous global religions...and my long-desired conversion to Judaism (which, when I was in seventh grade, I was semi-aware was eventually inevitable, it just took me a couple of decades and some significant changes in American Judaism to actually bring about)--I have been conjuring with this exact question since I was really small (maybe six years old).
Here is what, after all that exposure, study, and various levels of experience, I have discovered (to my own personal satisfaction):
There are many different "kinds" of prayer in many different religious traditions, including asking for something (health, an easy birth process in regard to a soon to be born infant, food, water, protection, employment, the right marital partner, etc.), praise/adoration, thanksgiving, intercession (asking for something on behalf of someone or something other than one's self), repentance, or (in the case of specifically southern African indigenous peoples), a kind of active and desired intervention by the spirits/souls of deceased ancestors for something needed or desired).
Most of these aside, the overwhelming lesson I have learned in my own personal life has been that "No!" (otherwise possibly known as "fail") is frequently not only an "answer to prayer," but can frequently be seen, in retrospect, as "the" most positive and life-affirming "answer." (This also seems to be seamlessly true in regard to the larger panorama offered by reincarnation as well. "Failure" of a specific "plea" (for want of a better word) may be the necessary foundation of the next (or down-the-line) life to come.
I can look back at some, specific, "bad" things which happened to me in this life, and clearly see (in retrospect) that had that situation NOT happened--and often, not happened in that particular way--I would not have had the life I have now (which I fully understand is one of the very best lives available on this planet, and I am deeply serious here).
I can look back at things I have DESPERATELY wanted in this life (my college education, for example, which was ALWAYS promised to me from the time I was about three years old, and was then, quite decisively, taken away from me when I was somewhere around tenth grade)--and what I see from these mostly major things I so desperately wanted at that time is that, had they actually "arrived," I would not have been able to have my life now, because I would have gone so far off the track I was actually, without my conscious understanding, heading for, that I could never have made the connections I needed to get back on track to where I am now.
Had any of those "no's" been "yes's," I would very likely be either miserable, or even possibly dead, right now.
What I am trying to say is: "Prayer" is not a simple thing--for one thing, it can involve all kinds of activities that are generally not recognized as "prayer" in American, or generally Western, culture.
I think one of the things that "prayer" MAY [possibly] do (especially if it veers towards the meditation/concentration/mantras/stotras/dancing/playing instruments/working in the creative arts kinds of prayers), is to both:
1) concentrate the mind so it is more able to access all of the existing information available to that person (including information which may exist in that person's mind, but they have, for example, forgotten--or may be afraid of), and also...
2) (in a sense) to "liberate" the deeper, and usually more inaccessible, parts of an individual person's mind so they have conscious access to THAT part of their own wisdom.
If individuals are able to do this, there appears to be a kind of "connection" that can be established to a kind of universal "knowingness" (and this IS repeatedly affirmed by most any truly creative person who has ever lived, going back at least as far as cave painting times), and this "connection" (to whatever kind of force or nature it may be; I do not have any idea other than I personally deeply believe that it is, most definitely, NOT a "Big Guy in the Sky" figure), and that in this kind of "state" or "dimension" (for want of a much more accurate word), if the person's thinking and character and motivations are optimum, what may contemporaneously appear to be a "fail" can actually be discerned as a point of success, or a saved by the bell moment, when, usually much later (decades for most people) it is seen in retrospect.
Mis muchos centavos.
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 10/19/2018 05:35PM by Tevai.