Positive Energy and Prayer

Some of the important people in my life ask for prayer when things are difficult. Others ask for positive energy or healing thoughts when they are in need of support. Both are asking for spiritual support, but in different ways.

Bumblebee in Flight with Redbud Tree

There are good reasons for not using each other’s terms. Religious language may be associated with a world view so painful or constricting that a person rejects the language, the church it came from, and even what it refers to. Yet someone who rejects “prayer” may respond with warmth and love when the request is to “send good thoughts.” The value of the spiritual connection remains, it just needs to be seen in a different context, with a new way of being expressed.

On the other hand, shared language is part of what forms the bonds of a community. Within a community for whom prayer is a positive and meaningful shared experience, to ask for prayer is to make reference to what is held in common. To use another term would be to place oneself outside that shared experience and strain against the community’s identity.

So the language we use says something important about who we are. The difference in language reflects a difference in where we find meaning and belonging. But despite our differences, we share a need for the spiritual support of others. Regardless of how we express it, we know that we are connected in a spiritual way and that our connection matters.

I don’t know how prayer works. But I trust that we are connected to a level of reality beyond the physical world. Even the physicists tell us that beneath the appearance of things the world is made of energy. Some of that energy manifests as material objects, but matter is not the solid reality that we think of it as being.

Physics is offering us new ways of understanding creation and new metaphors. We are energy, we are connected to the energy around us, and connected to others through this energy. Our actions, our thoughts, and our love have an effect on the web of reality, the field of energy, beyond us. When we pray for others we are connected to them. Prayer directs our thoughts, our actions, and our love toward where they are needed, and puts more than we can know into motion.

There may be additional things we can do for the people we pray for. Thoughts, actions, and love can be directed in many practical ways. But prayer is an important means of putting energy into motion, of being connected. Many things can be prayer, or can be done prayerfully. Packing a box of supplies for people who need them as we direct our compassion toward them can be prayer. Bringing love and concern and hope for those who are suffering as we prepare food, or visit a hospital room, or write a note, can be prayer.

Whether we call it positive energy or prayer, this way of sharing love and strength is an important part of caring for one another. It helps to know what kind of language is meaningful to the person we’re talking to. But whether we say, “You’re in my prayers” or “I’m sending positive energy your way,” we’re talking about a spiritual effort. Making that commitment means we care, we want to help, and we will add our energy to the spiritual network that sustains them. Its workings are a mystery, but the spiritual help we offer matters.

You might be interested in an earlier post, “What It Means to Say ‘You’re in My Prayers,” or in “How to Pray for Another.”

Prayer for a Grieving Friend

In recent weeks, several friends have experienced a profound loss of one kind or another. In the midst of a celebration of light, their worlds hold a great portion of darkness. The contrast can make this a difficult season. This post is a prayer for those who grieve, especially during this season, and for the friends and loved ones who long to comfort them.

Through this dark valley I would ease your way,
reassure you of the goodness of life,
even of your life.
But I have not traveled this path you tread,
nor learned the reach of these shadows.
All I can do is walk with you,
both of us stumbling,
certain only that we will be sustained
by powers beyond our imagining—
by life and love, light and hope.

May the Spirit of Life lend its strength,
enfold and uplift us with warm embrace.
May the Spirit of Love tend wounded hearts,
that healing and tenderness may abide.
May the Spirit of Light show us the way—
one step at a time is enough.
And may the Spirit of Hope sow its seeds,
to open in the mysterious dark
and emerge as new life
in the spring that will surely come.

Susan Christerson Brown

How to Pray for Another

Praying for another person is a way of loving them. It holds them in the flow of divine energy when they may have difficulty seeking it for themselves. When a community prays for someone, it lends the strength of its collective faith at a time when an individual may grow weary.

Which all sounds good. But really, how do we do that?

If I want to pray for you, it helps to begin by trying to understand what you’re going through. It’s good to acknowledge how things really are for you, at least the best I can. Prayer is mysterious and powerful, but it is not magic. It cannot negate a crisis or remove the traces of a traumatic event. The struggle to create a life in the midst of challenges to body, mind, and spirit is real and ongoing, and that is where we have to start.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what another needs most. In some cases my own emotion surrounding their situation makes a specific prayer impossible to express. Other times I simply don’t know what is troubling them. One way to pray when words fail is to see the one for whom we’re praying held in a beautiful white light.

I envision the light enfolding and permeating their being, healing their wounds, buffering them from external shocks, and strengthening their ability to see beauty and meaning in their life. I imagine the easing of body, mind, and spirit through the healing warmth of the light. I think of the light as always there, the divine support given by grace to each of us.

This way of praying works whether we know someone well or only by sight. It has meaning whether we feel closeness or tension with the person we’re praying for. It is a prayer we can use to support our leaders and bolster the everyday people in our lives.

If you’re interested in the subject of praying for others, you might want to read the previous post:

What it Means to Say “You’re in My Prayers”

How do you go about praying for others?