The other day, someone asked me if I believed in the power of prayer. At first, I wanted to say, “No, that’s ridiculous. You think you’re just going to ask for something, and some supreme being is going to give it to you?”
But then I took a second to think about it, and I realized that’s not really how prayer works. Well, perhaps it does for some, but I get the feeling that those people don’t actually expect to get what they ask for.
No, for people who take prayer seriously, it seems they rarely ask for something. Instead, they ask for guidance on how to solve a problem. They focus their prayer on how to achieve things that are important to their lives.
Now someone religious and I would disagree about who’s really being asked, and who’s really supplying any answers but, at the end of the day, what a prayer does is focus the mind on an important desire.
And I do believe in the power of desire. When you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it—even pray!
And if prayer is a way for someone to focus themselves on things they really want, and that works for them, then by all means, “Hail Mary!”
The “Prayer – Fear = Delusional Success” Equation
At the end of the line, fear is what stops you from taking action on something important to you. And I think fear really comes from a misguided attempt to predict the future.
When you fear something, you worry about how it will affect your life. And what is worry? Worry is experiencing failure before you’ve even had the opportunity to fail. And the more you focus on it, the worse it gets—the uglier the future becomes.
Warning: Do not substitute fear for reality!
What prayer allows you to do is to use yourself as a conduit for something greater than you.
If before you were afraid and unsure, a healthy dose of prayer strengthens your confidence and pushes you in the direction you always wanted to go in the first place by giving you the illusion that someone or something else is watching out for you.
In my not-so-humble opinion, he/she/it isn’t, but that hardly matters anymore. Once the fear is gone, you start to act in a way that’s far more likely to get you what you want.
You don’t hesitate or second-guess yourself. You don’t flinch. Instead, you start making the best decisions you can with the information you have.
Nothing factual changed—all the pieces of the puzzle are the same as they were before. The only difference is the mindset you have when you look at them.
Yesterday, I booked a flight to Australia. But I almost didn’t. I almost waited too long and talked myself out of it.
The plan is to go run a marathon and climb a mountain on the way back. The details aren’t in place, so I got a little scared about booking a ticket that I may not be able to use the way I hope to.
I took a deep breath, and had a little chat with myself:
“Tyler, you know how important this is to you. The path isn’t clear, but if you don’t do this now, it probably won’t happen for a long time. Do you really want to sit and wait for something this important to you? Please, just let yourself do this!”
And that little pep talk changed my whole approach. I made the decision to press the big red button before the fear could talk me out of it.
Luckily, I’ve recovered from enough of my own self-made blunders now that I have the confidence to make these kinds of decisions knowing that “I’ll figure it out” one way or another.
And there I was with a plane ticket to Australia and no idea how I was going to use it.
Funny enough, booking the ticket created the instant motivation to sort out the rest of the details. 24 hours later, the trip is almost completely planned out.
If I hadn’t just pulled the trigger, would I have gotten around to the details yet? I doubt it.
And what’s the difference, really, between a prayer and a pep-talk you give yourself? In the end, aren’t you just asking permission (from yourself or someone/thing else) to do what’s best for you?
Does Prayer Actually Work?
Prayer is such a funny thing. I don’t believe in God—at least not in the way that most people do. Yet, I can’t help but notice how many people attribute their greatest successes to some form of God and to the power of prayer.
Are they delusional? Stupid? Completely misguided? I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe I am!
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. I think, deep down, we probably believe the same thing:
When you want something bad enough—when you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it—your mindset shifts in a way that allows you to see opportunities instead of problems. You start to see the path and not the forest in front of you.
Most of all, you start.
And how anyone gets to that point is mostly irrelevant.
So, as I sat in this coffee shop and thought about my answer to that question—”Do you believe in prayer?”—I held my reaction a moment, and when I finally spoke, my answer was, simply:
Image by: nimble photography