Why The Power Of Prayer Is Real & You Can't Just Use It To "Get Stuff"

Written by Maureen Gilbert

I've been a spiritual seeker for as long as I can remember, fascinated with the mystical, esoteric and occult.

For most of my life I pursued a spiritual practice much like I pursued most of my life — in a type-A manner determined to crack the code and excel. I was convinced that if I read enough books, did enough meditation and other mind-altering practices, that I could reach enlightenment or nirvana or some other version of "Heaven on Earth."

But in retrospect, I will sheepishly admit that my quest for spirituality was in fact an illusion, giving my ego another set of tools to try to manage and control life. Subconsciously, I was using spirituality as if it would exempt me from all the wrong or bad things in life. If our outer reality reflects our inner reality, then I was striving for perfection.

Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, wrote that many of us are “ ... victims of ‘this’ delusion that we can wrest satisfaction or even happiness out of life as long as we manage well.” This may seem obvious — we are used to showing up, managing our lives and having things go according to our neat and tidy plans.

But what happens when things happen that we cannot control; when things don’t go according to our perfect plan?

In these times of great need, many of us begin to pray — to a God or Spirit, and even the Universe. Until then, we’re quite happy to go about our lives relying on our own intelligence and willpower to see us through.

My spiritual practice went through a radical transformation when I realized that in the very act of praying, I was making presumptions about how life was meant to unfold. On the surface these prayers seemed (even virtuous) ... Please help so-and-so get better; Don’t let someone die; Help me get this job; Let this deal go thru ... etc.

My spiritual practice was ultimately designed to merely “get me stuff,” or “control and bend life to my wishes and desires.” If a spiritual practice is meant to transcend the ego, then why do we pray for the outcome, which stems from the ego?

What if there was a better way to pray?

I was in a 12-Step meeting when another participant shared that his sponsor had taught him the “Whatever” prayer. So of course, I was very anxious to learn of a heretofore unknown and effective way to influence my reality.

He said he wakes up, and then out of habit looks to the sky and just says “Whatever.” In other words, whatever this day brings — be it good, bad or indifferent — I will trust that things are unfolding just as they should, whether I get what I want or not. I was floored! It was so simple and profound and absolutely terrifying. Did I really have the spiritual stamina to be OK with anything and everything that life might throw my way?

I realized to be truly effective, I would add to this “Whatever” prayer to my spiritual repertoire. I also incorporate Tosha Silver's "Change Me Prayers," which give me courage, clarity, patience and forgiveness — whatever I need to internally deal with whatever I am going through right now.

So why not give it a try? Your life might not turn out exactly how you thought it would, but you just might receive the serenity to accept all the “whatevers” in your life; the courage to change what you can and the wisdom to know the difference!

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