Effective Prayer - Practice

Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner - Scott Cunningham 1993

Effective Prayer
Practice

PRAYER IS LITTLE-DISCUSSED in Wiccan books, probably because it is, by its very nature, a highly personal experience. Additionally, most Wiccan books seem to be more concerned with describing ritual motivations and mechanics than with delving into the truly spiritual aspects of our religion. But behind the circles, the altars, and the regalia, Wicca is designed to facilitate contact with the divine. We can certainly contact them during our rites with memorized invocations, but what of nonritual occasions? Will they hear us? Will they speak to us?

Of course. In Wicca, ritual is a framework in which prayer and magic take place. But prayer isn’t solely a ritualistic act. We can pray at any time, and, utilizing our connections with the Goddess and God, contact them for assistance and comfort.

Following are discussions of some aspects of Wiccan prayer.

Prayer Is Directed Both

Within as Well as Without

Many religions preach that our bodies are filthy, disgusting things that even their deities dislike and hate. Such faiths deny the flesh and turn their eyes toward the skies when seeking the divine.

Most Wiccans, however, accept that the Goddess and God are within ourselves as well as outside us. If everything in nature is connected through subtle but real energies, so, too, are we linked with the Goddess and God. We must become more intimately familiar with this connection. We can’t accomplish this by searching our bodies and asking, “Where’s the Goddess? Where’s the God?” They don’t reside in any one part of us; they’re simply within. They exist within our DNA. They’re present in our souls. The Goddess and God are infused into every aspect of our beings.

We gain familiarity with the divine spark within ourselves through ritual, meditation, and prayer. It’s during these moments, in which we expand our awareness beyond the physical world, that the divine energy within us rises and fills our consciousness. Though we may call the Goddess and God, we’re actually becoming newly focused on their presence inside us. Once this has occurred, we can become aware of their greater presences beyond ourselves.

Prayer is the process of attuning and communicating with the Goddess and God. During prayer, we may call them from the moon, the sun and the stars, from the seas, the deserts and caves, from the haunts of wild animals, and from the earth itself: but the call must first move us, must first renew our awareness of the Goddess and God within, before it can contact the universally manifested deities.

We might see a bunch of ripe peaches hanging from a tree and feel great desire to eat one. However, until we narrow our focus on just one peach, approach it, and pluck it from the tree, we won’t satisfy our craving. In prayer, we must narrow our focus, at first, upon the Goddess and God within, before we can contact the greater understanding of the Goddess and God. This initial focus may be accomplished through words, visualizations, songs, or by other means. There are no governing rules, though I present a few suggestions below. Experiment to discover the most effective technique.

To begin, a Wiccan adopts a prayerful attitude (see below). She or he may then begin each prayer with the following words:

Goddess within;

God within;

While saying these words, she or he shifts her or his consciousness to the warm, peaceful memories of her or his previous contacts with them. This may put her or him into the proper mode of consciousness. She or he could then proceed to say:

Goddess of the moon, waters, and earth;

God of the forests and mountains;

This expands her or his conception of the Goddess and God, and contacts a greater part of them. Once she or he has achieved a stronger connection, she or he then speaks to them in specifics (i.e., states the reason for her or his prayer).

Wiccan prayer, then, isn’t addressed to some distant deities who reside in alien cloud palaces. We needn’t use a bullhorn to call to the Goddess and God. Rather, we need only become newly aware of them within us. This is the secret.

Prayerful Attitudes

Many people, of all religious persuasions, pray only in times of great need, terrific stress, or spiritual crisis. This is a part of human nature: when all else fails, appeal to higher forces. Prayers at such times are certainly appropriate, and can often provide just what we need to get through such periods. However, they’re not the ideal prayerful occasions, for we often don’t take the time to truly contact the Goddess and God before we begin our communication. This may block the prayer’s effectiveness. Thus, it’s quite important, even in moments of extreme desperation, to adopt a prayerful attitude before speaking to the Goddess and God. A prayerful attitude consists of peace and hope resting on an unshakable spiritual foundation.

It may be quite difficult to adopt such a state when a friend has just become ill, a child has run away from home, or your cat is missing. However, attaining this peaceful, hopeful, spiritual state will lend greater power to your prayer, for it will allow you to more directly connect with the Goddess and God. Once you’ve linked with the Goddess and God, you can be as emotional as you wish.

Urgent, wild prayers (“Goddess, help me!”) or demanding prayers (“You gotta help me out. Right now!”) will lend you little or no spiritual support, and probably won’t go farther than your lips or mind. A few of these prayers may indeed reach the Goddess and God, if their speaker is sufficiently aware of her or his connection with them. However, they’re far from the most effective form of prayer.

Such prayers are usually spontaneous. They may be the product of new information or fresh insight into a situation. Thus, they certainly can’t be planned in advance. Or can they?

Indeed they can be. With a bit of practice and thought, you can transform ineffective prayers to quite effective prayers. How? Simply pray every day, in a prayerful attitude. Talk to the Goddess and God about positive events in your life. Thank them for manifested prayers. Speak to them about the moonrise, the sound of the birds in the morning, the new kittens. Speak to them, too, of your needs and hopes and desires.

Make prayer a daily occurrence. Don’t wait to pray solely during those rare occasions when crushing need forces you to turn to them for assistance. Prayer—true prayer—on a daily basis sets up a regular line of communication. So long as you don’t recite prayers without emotion or feeling, this prayer experience will come in handy when you’re faced with a crisis. Your prayer may still be quick and to the point, but you’ll have established a firm line of communication and have the capability to use it at any time.

Prayer should always be respectful. Wiccans don’t bargain with the Goddess and we don’t say, “Okay, Goddess. Give me that new car and I’ll burn a candle for you for three full moons.” That’s not Wiccan. We never bargain with the Goddess and God. Prayer doesn’t consist of deal making. We also never threaten or order around the Goddess and God in prayer. Doing so reveals that we’ve attempted to elevate ourselves to goddess- and god-hood. Sorry, we’re not deities.

Few people enjoy being commanded; no goddesses or gods enjoy it. Such “prayers” have no place in Wicca. (This statement doesn’t mean that it only has no place in my form of Wicca; it’s universal. It isn’t dependent upon your personal conception of the Goddess and God; it’s dependent upon the nature of things: the Goddess and God are bigger than us. End of discussion.)

And so, having a prayerful attitude means being in a peaceful, hopeful, spiritual state. If you attain this prior to praying, your prayers will be that much more effective.

The Nature of Prayer

Many religious people will argue that prayer consists only of communication between humans and the divine. As Wiccans, however, we’re aware of the nonphysical energies contained within our bodies (the same energies used in creating the circle, in consecrating tools, and in other works of magic). Effective prayer consists of more than words, for when prayers are made in the correct state, with pure, unadulterated emotion, we release energy with our words and direct it to the Goddess and God. Thus, certain forms of prayer (those in which we make requests, for example) are also acts of magic.

We needn’t attempt to make true prayer into a magical act (that is, we don’t have to arouse, program, and direct energy during prayer); this automatically occurs during emotional prayer. Fixing our minds upon a need, contacting the Goddess and God, and speaking to them stirs up, programs, and directs energy. It is an act of magic.

If we’re not properly attuned with the Goddess and God—if we’re not clearly focused—the energy raised by the prayer flies off into outer space in a willy-nilly fashion to no effect. Just as we must gather droplets of water into a tub to take a bath, so, too, must we gather our energies and direct them to the Goddess and God. To do otherwise is to perform ineffective prayer. Therefore, we must maintain our focus on them and allow nothing to distract us.

Don’t misunderstand this. Though some types of prayer can be considered to be spells, this certainly isn’t true of all forms. Additionally, praying to the Goddess and God isn’t spell casting; it’s a religious act that happens to have a magical content.

Wiccan prayer is far more than a simple recitation of facts to the Goddess and God and more than a form of communication. It’s a flow of personal energy from a human to the deities.

Types of Prayers

There are many types of prayers: prayers of thanks, of celebration, of need. Situations obviously frame the nature of most prayers. However, praying only when in need is using the least of prayer’s potential. The following prayers are merely examples.

Prayers of thanks are just that:

O Goddess within;

O God within;

O Goddess of the moon, waters, and earth;

O God of the forests and mountains:

I give thanks for______(or, for my many blessings).

The prayer may then continue on to describe how this blessing has changed your life:

Thank you for lending me spiritual strength in this time of need;

it has refreshed and encouraged me.

Or:

Thank you for assisting me in finding the perfect home; we’re safe now.

Or:

Thank you for touching my life and allowing me to find

Mr. (or Ms.) Right; my world is filled with love and happiness.

Such prayers may be quite lengthy. In prayers of thanks, it’s best to detail your specific reasons for thankfulness. This strengthens the fact that the Goddess and God have recently assisted you, and also strengthens the prayer’s effectiveness.

If you need assistance in creating a ritual, you may pray for this:

O glorious Goddess;

O gracious God;

You who created all that is;

Help me create this ritual

In your honor

At the time of the full moon (or Yule, and so on).

Prayers of celebration may also be framed when the Wiccan has accomplished a tremendous feat, with or without the direct assistance of the Goddess and God:

O gracious Goddess,

I passed the test.

Or:

O Mother Goddess;

O Father God;

I finished (the book, the song, the garden).

Prayers of need are just that:

O Goddess within;

God within;

Goddess of the moon, the waters, and the earth;

God of the forests and mountains;

O shining ones of infinite wisdom:

Teach me to understand my child (friend, lover, parents, boss).

Lend me the spiritual strength to overcome my anger and pain;

Quench my fires with love.

Certainly, there are many types of need. In our market economy, where we must work to earn money to buy things that others create, our needs are often physical: we need a new car, a home, a good job, more money. Prayers of need may also be involved with healing, compassion, love, protection, and many other aspects of daily human life.

At times, our needs may seem insurmountable. We may temporarily lose our Goddess and God focus and descend into negative thinking, disillusionment, and fear. It’s at such times that we may pray to them:

O Goddess within;

O God within;

O Goddess of the moon, the waters, and the earth;

O God of the forests and mountains:

I need to feel your presence.

I need to be reminded of you.

Assist me to remember your lessons;

Show me the key that will unlock my spirituality.

Blessed Be.

Or, we may pray regarding problems that we’re having with our religion. After the introductory part of the prayer, you may say:

Goddess, I simply don’t understand this. This book says that we never incarnate as the opposite sex of the one that we are in this life. Help.

Or,

Goddess and God, I’m trying to find the perfect circle casting.

Guide my mind, heart, and hands as I try to figure this out.

Keep in mind that, to be effective, all prayers of need must be stated with a prayerful attitude.

Wiccan prayer is a private, personal aspect of our religion. We all have our own methods of contacting the Goddess and God. However, the techniques outlined in this chapter may be of assistance in truly contacting them, and in using prayer as a positive, supportive tool of everyday life.

Pray often—it’s an essential part of Wicca.