By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 24 August, 2012
Dear Spiritual Explorer: What is the value of prayer? John P., Delray, FL
Hindu Prayer Shawls
Dear John: There is something to be said for somebody setting out to perform a certain ritual, bringing their hands together and just offering up prayers within themselves. Some choose to pray in the privacy of their homes, others prefer to worship at a church, synagogue or mosque and some might offer a prayer up to a tree, body of water or other item in the environment they consider sacred. My friend Robin always insists on first putting on her Prayer Shawl, one of the many she purchased at Ma’s India.
When I asked Robin what the donning of the prayer shawl did for her, she told me that it meant that she was serious about the prayer and that wearing the prayer shawl not only felt sacred, but seemed to bring down a particular essence. She told me that she particularly loved that she could choose among eight different deities, each one of whom carries a respective character and essence. When Robin needed some bravery,she chose the Hanuman prayer shawl; if there was a roadblock in her life , she might wear the Ganesh prayer shawl. Robin also confided in me that when she was feeling, as she put it, extra brave, she would ask Kali via the Kali Prayer Shawl to help her. She said, “Kali is scary, because she can really kill your ego, but she is most effective.” She also told me that this Kali prayer shawl was the only one in black, “almost a fashion item,” she laughed.
I then realized that setting time aside for prayer was similar to “intention,” and the power of intention is significant. When we begin to intend something, we call forth many things in the universe to assist us. This is not a belief for me, but something that that I have empirically verified through experience. I know that if I am negative about something, I won’t say it occurs, but I will say it definitely prevents me from seeing other possibilities. Donning a prayer shawl is an act of positive thinking and trust, and conveys my faith that my prayer will be heard.
Many studies have shown that prayer is effective in myriad cases of illness. While it might not necessarily heal in entirety someone’s illness, it is sufficient to carry the support and kindness of those willing to pray for their friends and loved ones. The loving act of prayer always supports anyone who finds themselves in the grips of a serious illness. The ancillary effect to those praying is that it gives them also comfort and support. A win-win practice I would say.
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