Thoughtful Thursday: Pray

March 6, 2014

Thoughtful ThursdayBurrito and Tamale are really into a few songs right now. One of them happens to mention the word “pray.”

This has led Burrito to keep asking me about prayer. I’ve been telling him:

“Some people pray as a way of talking to G-d or Jesus.”

(Even though he is Jewish, he has heard of Jesus from the aforementioned song as well as random other places, such as medieval art and an ichthys on his preschool teacher’s car.)

“Other people pray as a way of talking to their own minds. In Hebrew, the word for pray is a reflexive verb.”

(Linguistics are clearly way beyond him, but this point is highly relevant to my own conception of prayer, so I mentioned it.)

“Whether or not people believe that anyone else can hear their prayer, they know that they can hear it. Some people are praying to talk to someone else, and some people are just talking to themselves. Just by saying it, you make it more likely that it will become real. In yoga we call this an intention.”

(I know he’s done a bit of mediation in yoga classes, but I’m not sure if there have been any intentions. Very relevant for me, though.)

“There are different kinds of prayers. A lot of prayers are wishes. You could wish that someone sick could become healthy, or you could wish that someone who is having a hard time will get better, or you could wish that something scary will be okay. Other prayers say thank you. When we say ‘Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam Borei Pri Hagafen’ we are being thankful for fruits.”

(Technically this blessing on “the fruit of the vine” is for wine, and there’s actually a different Hebrew blessing for fruits, but he knows the wine blessing from synagogue.)

“When we say¬†‘Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam Hamotzi Lechem Min Haaretz” we are being thankful for bread. We could be thankful for food, or people we love, or being healthy, or friends, or anything.”

Then Burrito said, “I am thankful for honeydew and cantaloupe and pineapple and cookies. And Mommy and Daddy and Tamale.”

What does prayer mean to you?

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6 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Pray”

  1. Sara Says:

    Prayer is my way of doing something when there is otherwise nothing else I can do. When I am struggling, when a friend or a relative is struggling, it is something tangible that I can do.


  2. To me it means communion with the Divine.

    I hadn’t thought of it as a reflexive verb, but I like knowing that. And your emphasis on gratitude :-)

  3. St. Elsewhere Says:

    I love Burrito’s prayer.

    For me, prayer is a mode of communication.

    I am not very ritualistic as a person, and going to a temple is not important to me. I also hardly indulge in any of the hymn singing in my own house unless there’s a social setting that commands it.

    I also have a “problem/issue” with a couple of popular songs sung in divine praise, and so I shy away from them in the regular practice.

    My prayer is simple formulation of whatever it is that I wish to say. I just convey my thoughts, whenever, wherever.

  4. strongblonde Says:

    i’m not sure i have ever shared this or not, but i grew up in a VERY religious family. like VERY religious, conservative, all black and white, fear inducing, judging, etc. i always felt very uncomfortable with it. i didn’t have a sense of peace ever when i was at church or with the people who were there. i felt scared, judged, and anxious. to this day i am STILL uncomfortable with death and dying…and i think that it links back to that. i have felt before like i wanted to find a church to go to….but reflecting, i was able to determine that it wasn’t CHURCH i was looking for, but a sense of community (which i have yet to find). it is not really god that i am opposed to, just the fatality of it all. and i want to be in a place of like-minded people to explore truth and faith, not for someone to tell me how to vote or who to hate. maybe there is a place that matches these ideas somewhere….i just have not found it yet.

    how is this related to praying? i have never felt comfortable praying. i grew up learning that praying was begging god for forgiveness. i also knew that you could beg god for things that you wanted, but god would do what god wanted, not what you wanted. so….i never felt comfortable praying.

    i do like your explanation about it being reflexive….and a way to talk with yourself, too. more like meditation. my kids have not asked anything about it, but they are asking more and more hard questions, so i know it is coming.

  5. Ana Says:

    I’m with Sara, in that its somewhat of a last resort for me. I’m not religious in any way, though I join in on some of the religious ceremonies our parents like to observe, out of interest in the cultural aspects. I honestly don’t pray on a regular basis, but more when something is 100% out of my hands and I’m feeling small and helpless. It is during these times that I’m reminded that I may actually believe in something.

  6. Elana Kahn Says:

    I know I am supposed to pray, but I usually only do so when I am asking for something or thanking God for something. I honestly don’t pray very frequently, because I feel as though I have a bit of a strange relationship with God. It’s not a last resort, I just many times don’t feel like praying until I really need something.


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