Prayer is an integral part of spiritual technique and is rooted in the desire to raise one’s soul toward the Divinity.
If the process of prayer is set into motion by the culmination of various oral or mental formulas expressing a feeling of the soul, it seems possible to apply the Law of the Triangle to this mystical process.
Thus prayer may be defined as three points – the first being the desire manifested in and by the intention.
In other words, we may consider that the expression “to pray” describes a mystical process which allows prayer to be set into motion by a legitimate desire.
This soul desire constitutes the original motive without which the setting into motion of the process of prayer cannot perfectly and fully manifest.
Also, this desire must, in its essence, be focused by consciousness into a more tangible impression within the grasp of human understanding. This focusing is expressed in the intention, an analysis of which justifies or does not justify the setting into motion of the process of prayer.
The nature of this intention must be as pure as possible so as to confer upon prayer a truly intense and solemn expression.
It must vibrate in harmony with the qualities required from an intention whose sincerity and simplicity are solid foundation pillars.
In this way, the legitimate desire to pray will focus into a pure intention, the very nature of which will constitute the inner impulse necessary for setting into motion a desired and thought-out prayer.
Also, the affirmation “the desire to pray is already a prayer” perhaps reveals a message of hope in this slow process in the realm of divine blessings.
The second point of this triangle formed by prayer is the act, the act made manifest in and by the invocation.
If our first point, the intention or the desire, constitutes the initial impulse without which prayer cannot be set into motion, the second point is made manifest in and by an invocation whose expression can be either oral or mental.
“The intention stimulates the self into a fixed direction,” and we can consider that the invocation, in its semantic meaning and in its form, reflects and justifies this same direction.
Consequently, the general meaning of the invocation implies an intimate relationship with the intention which actuates it, and the expression given to this invocation will be either oral or mental, according to the nature of the inner calling.
Certain prayers seem to express gratitude, confession, or intercession more particularly.
In the prayer of gratitude, the self bows to the majesty of the Divine and humbly expresses its joy for the privilege of experiencing this godlike self-consciousness which its remarkable nature confers upon it.
The confession of the mystic generally develops into remorse, the purpose of which is to express regret for having offended the Divinity by violating certain moral ideals.
The intercession is directed to the one who has the power to give, so that, according to his or her decree, the supplicant will gradually be armed with the courage, strength, and virtues necessary for the accomplishment of a greater service.
The special orientation imparted to the content of the invocation depends on a definite intention, and the initial qualities of the intention seem to determine the emotional intensity displayed in this same invocation.
Thus, engaging in prayer through invocation corresponds to an intimate and secret act whose value is only real to the soul personality of the petitioner.
The value of the act then slowly blossoms forth in the full exaltation of the self toward higher realms, whose portals let the splendour of cosmic communion filter through.
It is there that the third point of the triangle makes itself manifest: the state. Such state is expressed in and by communion.
The setting of words into prayer, called the act, symbolised by the second point of the triangle, born from the first point (the desire), gives birth to a spiritual state corresponding to a close communion between the self and the soul personality or, depending upon intensity, to a temporary fusion of the self with the soul personality.
The sublime exaltation of the being toward such planes of consciousness implies entering the silence or a release from all realities other than those we are concerned with in prayer.
This mystical solitude requires a total surrender of the will to Cosmic Intelligence so as to become fully aware of the soul’s activity.
Then, freed from limiting concepts of time and space, the whole being shall temporarily renounce the illusionary finite world to participate in the infinite reality of the Heavenly Kingdom.
The stirring process of prayer, symbolised by the three points of the triangle—the desire, the act, and the state, expressed in and by the intention, the invocation, and the communion—is merely the development and perhaps arduous expression of an inner state which every praying mystic triggers and experiences within a lapse of time ranging from a fraction of a second to minutes.
Let us now explore three prayers reflecting the aspects of this process: gratitude, confession, and intercession.
Examples of Prayers
The first prayer is by St. Augustine, a fourth-century bishop. It expresses gratitude:
Lord, when I look upon my own life, it seems Thou hast led me so carefully and so tenderly that Thou canst have attended to none else. But when I see how wonderfully Thou hast led the world and art leading it, I am amazed that Thou hast had time to attend to such as I.
The second of these prayers is by Zoroaster, the founder of the ancient Persian religion who lived around the sixth century BC. This prayer indicates a sincere remorse:
All that I ought to have thought and have not thought;
All that I ought to have said and have not said;
All that I ought to have done and have not done;
All that I ought not to have thought and yet have thought;
All that I ought not to have spoken and yet have spoken;
All that I ought not to have done and yet have done;
For these thoughts, words, and works,
Pray I for forgiveness and repent of with penance.
The third is a prayer of intercession by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr. This request reveals great wisdom:
God, grant us serenity to accept what cannot be changed;
Courage to change what should be changed;
And wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
In the words of Jesus, one of the greatest Masters of prayer:
The one who prays with great sincerity for the happiness of others shall himself obtain happiness, and the one who prays for enlightenment to be granted to others shall receive enlightenment himself. Thus he will open the door to a more expanded consciousness, which is Unity and Love.
Accordingly, in line with the words of this great Master, let us remember to unite our highest thoughts for a few moments each day to serve the noble ideal of peace.
In the privacy of our sanctums, we can perform a brief visualisation which will constitute a bright light on earth and a support for the positive forces working toward peace everywhere.
Visualise the earth as a whole, as a globe.
And then visualise a beautiful white dove the—dove of Peace—flying over the earth and creating large circles of light around itself—circles which transform themselves into greater happiness, symbolised by all the things you love: millions of flowers, multicoloured hearts, stars, and all the symbols you are fond of, gently falling upon the earth.
And then visualise the millions of people who live on this healthy and lovely planet. They are happy—smiling at one other and getting on well together, without race or nationality discrimination, without political differences, for their politics are only those of mutual understanding, tolerance, and altruism.
May we always strive to work for peace, peace between nations and within nations, peace between people and within people; for we must never forget that the peace we must first acquire is that of the heart, or Peace Profound.
Adaptation of “Prayer” by Christian Bernard from the Rosicrucian Digest, July 1990