Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 3, 2008

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We Serve Through Prayer

(Part 6 of 9 in the Inner Work Series: The Stages of Prayer)

Faith is contagious and communal prayer works. In churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other venues of worship, we band together in reverent fellowship with our neighbors to address ourselves to the Divine, to pour our heart and soul into approaching God. We each become one instrument in a sacred symphony of prayer. The power of communal worship grows exponentially with the number of worshippers, especially if everyone fully engages in the prayer service. Together in humility and devotion, the assembled carry each other on a rising tide toward the Divine.

One profound subtlety of this action is that it weakens our ego, our self-centeredness in three complementary ways. First, the mere fact of shared participation in communal prayer takes us beyond the solely personal. There we are with our fellow worshippers: unadorned, vulnerable, and equal before the Divine. The visceral and emotional evidence that we are neither more nor less special than our neighbor exposes the illusion of egoism.

Second, the closer the worship carries us to hallowed ground, the more we set aside our self-centeredness for sacred-centeredness. The strong tide of the communal worship pushes through the channel of prayer, washing away the self-centeredness that impedes the flow. Conversely, the more we set aside our self-centeredness, the more open the channel of prayer and the closer we can approach the sacred. Again, the group action supports us in letting go and transcending egoism. And our individual boundaries soften in that symphonic ritual of prayer.

Third, the devotion of our fellow worshippers and the deep wisdom of the communal prayer ritual impresses upon us that prayer is an act of service to the Divine. At times we may even “see” our collective prayer ascending to higher ground and feel our engagement in mutual support with the Divine. Then prayer, even solitary prayer, becomes more than personal, more a direct form of service to God. Simultaneously a privilege and an obligation, prayer rises as an act we participate in, rather than something that originates from us personally.

At any given moment vast numbers of people across this planet engage in prayer. Some pray alone, some in community. All serve the Divine thereby. For this week, open to the joyous privilege and sacred obligation of serving through prayer.


     

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