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From the Heart: Praying Without Rules

One of the cornerstones of my spiritual practice is prayer — not the kind of rigid, dogmatic prayer I learned as a child — but instead a kind of prayer that has no rules to constrict my spiritual seeker’s heart. It's the kind of prayer that sets my heart and soul on fire.

Every Mystic I study — regardless of their specific path or tradition — seems to pray in this highly personal but universal way … without self-consciousness, second guessing or trying to control. They have taught me the importance of giving myself permission to do the same.

To pray like a Mystic is to pray without superiority. Whose God? What path is right? The Mystics believe all paths lead to the same Source.

To pray like a Mystic is to pray with love, anger, fear and confusion — to show up in all our light and shadow. We are human beings having a spiritual experience; I invite you to pray like that.

To pray like a Mystic is to pray anywhere. Pray in your car about how we both cradle and crack each other depending on our circumstances.

Pray while gazing at a starlit sky. Realize, perhaps for the first time, just how connected we are as you imagine the trail of roots under our feet.

Your place of worship might be a temple, or a garden of butterflies flapping their wings on the other side of the world. All you have to do is open your spiritual eyes and ears, and you are there.

To pray like a Mystic is to use language that resonate. Some prayers speak to our souls more than others. Listen to that part of you.

To pray like a Mystic, whether alone or with others, is to think of it as a conversation with your very best friend. There is no shame. There are no secrets. There are no topics that are off limits.

Some prayers come from our origin of faith; many are unexpected surprises when we open our minds and hearts to receive them.

All have something to teach us.

To pray like a Mystic is to pray with a sense of wonder. We don’t know which way a thing will or should go — but we can pray to be curious and grateful for whatever comes our way.

To pray like a Mystic is to trust that the answers do not come from someone or something else. When we realize we are our own gurus, we will truly begin to understand.

Teresa of Avila gave this advice to her Sisters: “Some books on prayer tell us where one must seek God. Within oneself, very clearly, is the best place to look.”

To pray like a Mystic is to pray with your entire essence.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro says: “Pray for the welfare of the world — both material and spiritual — and then live as if the answer to the prayer is you.”

I offer these words with the understanding that we all are the answer:

Great Mystery, Creator of All That Is,

Help us to accept that we are all somewhere between right and wrong,

And to know that the answer lies in the middle of Rumi’s field.

Give us the humility to see things from a different perspective.

It may very well be the one that saves us.

Create the circumstances for there to be love in the shadows,

And reconciliation in the murkiness of our being human.

Close your eyes and just for a minute, breathe with me,

Breathe together, as we feel our oneness.

Let us drop down our knives,

There is so much strength in surrendering.

Let us find the self-love to love all.

Let us find the courage to make our table bigger.

Let us use the lessons of the past to heal our present.

In the words of the great Mystic poet Rumi, “If I am the prayer, you’re the amen.”

May we all remember that we are both the prayer and the amen.



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