Since being in recovery, I have not been a big fan of intercessory prayer. The idea of pleading to some entity to somehow listen to my selfish needs and produce a result that is favorable to my will is problematic. The most obvious example is that praying for a specific circumstance (job, victory, decision, etc.) will result in someone else being on the losing end. Doesn’t quite make sense.
But at the same time, I am profoundly moved by the importance of a prayerful and mindful reflection. In the religious tradition to which I belong, there is a “Prayers of the People” in every service. I think of these prayers not that if the reader is particularly enthusiastic in the reading, or the congregation is particularly fervent in the listening, that there is a greater chance of the prayers being “answered” favorably.
I think instead of the power when the community raises their collective need or circumstance that it becomes elevated in the consciousness of the community’s Luminous Web of interconnectivity. The same is true on an personal level. I find often times that through prayer and meditation, that which has always been in front of my face, becomes more visible to my conscious self. For example, before I walk into a classroom to teach, I stop for a few moments and reflect that the next three-hour period is not about my performance but about the needs of the students. I consider this a form of prayer. When I do so, the class goes well because I am able to get out of self and consider the needs of others. Those needs are always there, but I do not always choose to be aware of and act on them.
So, does prayer and meditation “work” for me? Always, when I choose to take advantage of that opportunity.