USING PRAYER TO HELP
Prayer is its own special miracle. It truly helps us when we need that help. You don't even have to be a believer to pray. In fact, studies suggest that non-believers pray almost as often and as much as believers.
They say there are no atheists in the fox hole. Well, that's understandable. Because when we need help, we look for it wherever we think we might find it. And even an agnostic knows there's some great power or energy or eternal force behind the universe - even a confirmed agnostic sees or senses that truth.
When you find yourself in one of the "foxholes of life," turning to prayer can be a tremendous comfort. Recent studies have shown that people who pray really do get more benefit and relief than those who don't. And people who attend religious services on a weekly basis, do better than others in any number of areas, from marital harmony to a sense of satisfaction with life. In one study, patients in a hospital who were prayed for recovered better and faster than those who were not prayed for - even though none of the patients knew they were being prayed for. Now that's an impressive statistic!
A 65 year old man we know - who is a pretty confirmed non-believer - has high blood pressure and so must take a reading each day. Well, a few weeks ago his pressure seemed to be going higher than he wanted, higher than was good for him. One day, as he prepared to take the reading, out of the blue he prayed that his blood pressure would be lower. Guess what? It was! No one was more astounded than he! And so he began praying regularly before taking his blood pressure and he reports that it has definitely helped him reduce the numbers. This is a 100% true story - the man is a friend of ours. So, draw your own conclusions about the power and calming effects of prayer.
If you are suffering, you might want to avail yourself of the help that prayer offers - even if you've never prayed before. If you are a member of a formal religion, you might want to use the prayers of your faith. If you haven't been trained in a specific formal religion, you can simply make up whatever prayer seems appropriate to you - or look for something that appeals to you in books of prayer. You don't need a Ph.d. to pray to whatever higher power you envision. Everyone has access to God. Everyone has a right to connect with the Great Power Behind the Universe.
We don't recommend praying for material possessions - or, as Janis Joplin put it so well, "Dear Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz." We believe most of all in opening yourself up to the Great Eternal Power - however you call that power within your belief - and in that way seeking inspiration and solutions and a form of peace that come from deep within you. If you ask to be opened up to a solution - opened up to help - to inspiration and guidance - support and courage - you might well find that this kind of help comes about - seemingly on its own.
You might try simply asking this higher power for help in getting you through your situation. This kind of prayer and opening up to solutions, inspiration and guidance can give you great comfort and even relief from your problems. Just the act of reaching out to that Higher Power - that Eternal Life Force - will help you to relax and unwind and be more receptive to sleep.
To get into a prayer mode - that is, prepared to reach out - or reach down inside - to God - the Eternal Life Force - however your belief envisions the Universal Force of Life - we suggest that you find a place to be alone with your thoughts - a place that is quiet and not overstimulating. And place yourself into a position that feels right to you. And simply speak, sincerely, from your heart, while you open yourself up to this connection. It is our belief that you will connect, when you both open yourself to that connection and reach out - or, reach deep within - it's kind of all of these things at the same time. You might want to start by expressing gratitude for all that you have been blessed with in life. You don't have to be rich in the monetary sense to be richly blessed.
Some general blessings you might consider being grateful for include good health, a loving mother or father, a solid family, a good education, attractive physical features, a sharp mind, a sense of humor, living in this great country, having a beautiful home - or simply a roof over your head and three meals a day, every day - there are many things in your life that not everyone in the world has been so fortunate to have. Expressing gratitude for your blessings is a great way to begin your prayer session.
Then, you might go on to ask for help and guidance and support dealing with your situation - or for courage or strength to bear your burden - or for inspiration to help you deal with your problem. These are requests that may well be granted. And this kind of prayer can be very calming - truly a comfort to someone in difficult circumstances.
Here is a beautiful psalm that has helped people in need for thousands of years.
Out of the depths I call to you, Lord,Hear my cry, heed my plea, Be attentive to my prayers, To my sigh of supplication,
Who could endure, Lord, If you kept count of every sin? But forgiveness is Yours,Therefore we revere You.
I wait for the Lord; my soul yearns.
Hopefully I await God's word. I wait for the Lord
More eagerly than watchmen wait for dawn.
We put our hope in the Lord,for the Lord is generous with Mercy.
Abundant is his power to redeem; May he redeem the people Israel from all sin.
At some point you might want to get involved with a religious group that feels appropriate to you or to reactivate your original religious connection and practices, if they've lapsed in recent years. We support involvement with religious ideas, practices & organizations - so long as they are positive and a force for good in the world.
Here is part of a prayer from the Jewish prayer book (Conservative):
Oh, Lord, Protect us with Your gift of peace by helping us to overcome temptation. When we are weak, sustain us; When we despair, open our hearts to joy. Shelter us in Your embrace of peace when we are caught by conflict or desire. When we are torn, heal us; When we are tormented, touch us with tranquility. Cherish our fragmented lives; Make our lives whole again through integrity. When we deceive, turn us to You; When we corrupt, capture our hearts anew. Protect us from ourselves; When we falter, help us to conquer the enemy within. When we blunder, restore us; With compassion teach us that peace is based on Your truth.
A while back we spotted the headline of an issue of Weekly World News - a supermarket tabloid - with a headline proclaiming "Lost Bible Prayer Works Miracles every day! Learn the 17 most powerful words you will ever speak!"
We were curious. Inside was this prayer, which they refer to as, "The lost miracle Prayer of the Bible" - apparently (they said) found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, making it 2,000 years old. The prayer goes like this:
God grant me health, happiness, peace, love and
the power of your holy light, now and forever.
Well, that seems to us like a fine prayer. A lovely prayer, really. They report that a preface to the prayer was found in the scrolls. It says: Let him who is in need, alone and despairing, find truth and light in the words of the Lord.
Even the simplest prayer can bring a sense of peace and comfort to you. Some people choose a short phrase like, "Thy will be done," or "God be with me" - "Lord, Hear my Plea," or, just a line from another prayer or psalm that they know - and it brings them comfort and a sense that they have prayed.
One prayer begins: "O loving God, may your shining light be with us always."
Another prayer, part of a psalm, says: Praise God, my soul, I will praise God all my life; I will sing praise to God as long as I live."
Or another, "It is good to sing praise to you, Lord, and to thank you for all of your blessings, to proclaim your love every morning and your steadfastness every night."
If you are in pain you might try something that says: "God be with me" - or "Hear my cries, Lord, for my soul is troubled. Hear my plea, Oh, God, do not abandon me." or this: "God, hear me - When I am falling, your love supports me; when I am distressed, comfort me and make me glad."
Dale Carnegie, who's books are so inspiring, brilliant and truly helpful and a pleasure to read - still - 60 years or more after he wrote them - grew up about as poor as a person can get - truly dirt poor on a lonely little farm in Missouri. And his family suffered unimaginable poverty and disastrous setbacks with their farming - over and over again. But his mother kept faith for all of them - and that faith helped to pull his father from the brink of suicide at one point - that's how bad things were on that farm. Ultimately they prevailed with their little farm and Dale Carnegie went on to college and to do his brilliant work with inspirational instruction.
Here are the words to the prayer he remembers his mother singing: Peace, peace, wonderful peace, Flowing down from the Father above, Sweep over my spirit forever I pray In fathomless billows of love.
We ourself always find it helpful to recite The 23rd Psalm whenever we need calming - such as just before the plane takes off, or lands...
HERE IS THE 23rd PSALM:
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil, My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
And another psalm that has comforted people for thousands of years:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; He shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall guard thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and forevermore.(Amen.)
Here is a prayer that we recently saw in our local community newspaper: PRAYER TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN ("Never known to fail.")
"O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, Assist me in my necessity. O star of the Sea help me and show me where you are my Mother, O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth. I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in my necessity. (Make request.) There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee (three times). Holy Mary I place this cause in your hands (three times.) Say this prayer for three consecutive days and then you must publish and it will be granted to you. Grateful Thanks. Gerard."
This concludes our segment on Using Prayer to help you. We hope it has been helpful - and will continue to be helpful as you face the challenges of life. For other calming statements to say to yourself, please go to AFFIRMATIONS TO HELP YOU CALM DOWN AND GO TO SLEEP or our SIX-STEP SLEEPY-HEAD RELAXATION PROGRAM.
If you have been up for a while now and it's late - too late to get a good night's sleep - we offer some TECHNIQUES to help get you through the day when you feel wretched from sleep deprivation.
Also, you may want to check out our segment on SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP.
If you're Jewish you might like to visit our sister website: www.iKehillah.Org.
Good night and Sweet Dreams...
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