I have had writer’s block for almost two months now. Today, was the final deadline for the article, I was asked to submit to Rivaaj. I was feeling the pressure of the situation until I was asked to do a critical incidence debriefing (a fancy word for helping people (with grief/loss/trauma) that have recently lost a loved one) by my job.
I walked into a small conference room where about twenty-five people were standing around (because there was not enough space to sit). Several people were crying and others were visibly distraught because they had lost someone dear to them a couple of days ago. I was supposed to help them but how? How can I do anything about someone who has died? The individual is gone and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change that.
However, as I stood there, I responded with the only words that came out of my mouth. “Let’s take a moment of silence.” I did not have time to be politically correct, or to remember that not all people are comfortable or aware of the concept of a moment of silence. And yet, at that moment it seemed like exactly the right thing to do.
Then, as if by magic, my hands went out to hold the hand of the person standing next to me and suddenly everyone in the room was holding hands. We closed our eyes, prayed, remembered, and contemplated on the memory of the loved one. A minute later everyone opened their eyes. Although nothing had changed, I felt that the air was lighter. In that moment I understood the power of prayer.
Prayer is defined as a devout petition to God or an object of worship, a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession, the act or practice of praying to God or an object of worship, a formula or sequence of words used in or appointed for praying, and a religious observance, either public or private, consisting wholly or mainly of prayer. (www.dictionary.com). However, if looked at simply, prayer is just connection to a Higher Power. And in the moment described above, a group of people came together to accept a difficult reality and prayed to find peace. I am almost certain if I had not been in this situation I would never had had the response that I did. But somehow, adversity turns people to a greater power.
However, wouldn’t it be great if we could do that every day? Have you ever been at a team meeting or a cocktail party and suggested “let’s take a moment of silence before we start the party/discussion.” It sounds pretty silly and could be embarrassing but how wonderful it would be if we could be open to faith every day.
I am not here to discuss religion or ask you to ponder on the existence of God. But what would it be like if we allowed life to happen and allowed someone greater than ourselves to take care of us. If you are one of the people who are skeptical about faith, try some of the suggestions below and see what happens.

1. Start being grateful for what you have.
Instead of praying or focusing on what you would like to see happen, say thank you for all the wonderful things around you. Do you ever stop to ponder on your health, and how amazing it is to have a healthy body? How about thanking God for your eyesight, hearing and sense of smell. If you can’t focus on your body then be grateful for the central air conditioning we have been blessed with in this smoldering heat. Look at the environment around you. Say thank you for your home, workplace and the car you drive. Gratitude is a different kind of prayer than can bring inner peace and harmony into your life. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for and post it near your desk, or in your bedroom. Remind yourself regularly of all the joy in your life.
Also, it’s easy to complain about the people in your life e.g. the coworker who keeps meddling in your business, or the super critical mother-in-law. Instead, try expressing gratitude for the caring friend or your loving significant other who took care of you when you were sick. Continue to notice the people around you who open the door for you, smile at you and allow you to come through in traffic. Thank God for the goodness around you rather than focusing on the negativity. Furthermore, demonstrate verbal appreciation to the people who are there for you every day. Initially, people may be surprised by the change but it will pass on to them. Be thankful throughout the day (it only takes a second) and notice the shift that happens in your life.

2. Schedule time for prayer daily.

At first glance, you may look at this suggestion and wonder who has time for anything, much less something that does not guarantee immediate results (aah! the age of instant gratification). Take time out (without feeling pressure because that defies the whole purpose). Even twenty seconds will work. All you have to do is find connection to God by breathing deeply and asking for the best solution for the circumstance you are in. You may be taken aback with the answer you receive. Also attempt to take fifteen to twenty minutes to just sit in silence or figure out a type of prayer (it may be that you decide to try no method at all) that works for you.
Be consistent about taking time out for prayer. You may feel tired or frustrated and may want to relax by watching TV or browsing the Internet. However, these are short-term solutions. Eventually you will notice feeling even more depressed or disillusioned. Prayer has a way of seeping through and changing the mindset that you are in. So give yourself a couple of weeks of trying it out before giving up.

3. Pray for others.

Often, we are so focused on what we want for ourselves that we forget about others around us. Notice the next time you are watching the news and reading the newspaper. Notice your reaction when you are bombarded with all the violence that is occurring in the world. Instead of spending time thinking “why is this happening,” ask for peace for the people who are going through the violence. We may remember to pray for family and friends but it is more uplifting to pray for people who appear to be far removed from us. The act of praying brings us closer to people, even to strangers.
Also, (this really works!) try blessing the person you have the most conflictual relationship with. If they are in your face, yelling at you, where you feel like you do not even have space to breathe, take a moment to step back and do just that-breathe. Then, try to bless them and ask God to bring peace into their lives (if you can). Before speaking, keep in mind that they are in a difficult situation and it is probably not about you. Then respond to the situation. The person in front of you may not change but you may notice a shift in your reaction to them.
The effects of praying for others may not show up immediately but you may end up having more congenial relationships than you imagined. The important thing to remember is that you can only change your own relationship with prayer. Asking that others do the same leads to resentment and frustration.

4. Pray in nature.
Once you start trying out the other suggestions in your life, you may want to try something that has worked for centuries. This is the easiest technique in the world and yet so many of us miss out on it because we are caught up with all the drama in our lives. Find a place in nature to practice prayer. A quiet place in your backyard or park would work. No matter what religious community you belong to (or even if you choose not to belong to one) you can reap the benefits of connecting to nature. Almost everyone finds solace in nature. Nature has the most unimaginable healing quality. Being in nature shifts one’s perspective. We feel the world is bigger than ourselves. It is easier to step out of our problems and it increases the likelihood of appreciation of all of God’s creation. Even, something as simple as watching the rain can have the most calming effect.

5. Try not to label prayer.

Last but not least, if someone prays differently from you and you do not agree with them, that’s fine, but to impose a type of prayer on someone else defies the essence of prayer. Even imposing a type of prayer on yourself, will probably not work. The purpose of prayer is to help you connect and if you are praying out of obligation (even internal pressure) then the effects may be the opposite of what you intend.
During prayer, try not to think about anything else but praying. I notice many people who pray but are so distracted or distraught; their praying does not bring peace to them because they are unable to feel the connection to God. Even if you are praying in a group, allow yourself to feel connected to God. Sometimes, our thoughts take over and we are more concerned as to how we are looking or “am I doing it right?” That takes us away from the purpose of prayer, to be connected to a Higher Power.

So, the next time you are unsure about what to do with a situation in your life, or are just distressed by life’s happenings, try to become more peaceful. Use the power of prayer to feel calmer about yourself, others and your situation.

Author's Bio: 

Aqsa Zareen Farooqui, MS is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Georgia and can assist with family, relationship,marital, career or addiction concerns. Please feel free to contact her at info@deepessence.com. She would love to receive comments about her articles.