This Is How I Pray

People often ask me about how I pray because they are not sure how to pray. The first thing I do when I get up is I say a few prayers in Hebrew.   I don't know exactly what they mean, other than it is a prayer that is supposed to be done when first getting up in the morning.  If you did not know, I am Jewish.  This is the transliteration of the prayer: Modeh Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayom Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati Bechemla Raba Emunatecha.  I say this prayer right when my feet hit the  ground. Then I usually go downstairs.  I have created a mantle with some of my spiritual belonging and this is usually  where I pray.  I also often pray in my  kids room when they are not their because I believe the younger a child is, the closer they are to God.  Sometimes I'll put my Tallit and my Kippa on.  In Hebrews, the Tallit is a shawl that you put on over your shoulders. The one I wear is from my grandfather and it's probably about the 70 or 80 years old and it carries a lot of significance for me. Other times, I'll wear my Kippa on my head.  A Kippa is round piece of cloth that Jewish people often wear when praying.

When I  first started praying, I didn't know what I was doing. A friend just told me to get down on my hands and knees and sit there and say whatever comes to mind. Nowadays,I get down on my hands and knees and I have a whole stash of prayers.  Some I say every morning, others when I feel called to say them, and sometimes I make up a new prayer up that morning.  For the most part, I do a very similar prayer method every morning.

I get down on my hands and knees and I just read a series of prayers in no specific order.

Here are some prayers I say:

God, help me be with my feelings and feel what I need to feel today

In this moment, I do not have to control anyone including me and if I feel uncomfortable with what another person is doing or not doing, I could remind myself that I'm powerless over this person and powerless over my compulsion to act inappropriately.

 This morning, I'm entirely ready to be freed  of all my shortcomings. In this moment, I'm ready to surrender these defects of character to God knowing that the power of willingness to heal is great. Each new step I take in my recovery, no matter how small it may appear is an affirmation of my wholeness.

In this moment, I live my life in anew way as I continue to open my heart and my mind little by little, one day a  ta time. I reveal my true self, mend my relations and touch God.

 Here's a series of prayers I say that comes from a book called “Just for Today,” This book is from the Emotions Anonymous program.

  1. Just for Today, I will try to live through the day only, not tackling all my  problems at once. I can do something at this moment that would discourage me if I had to continue it for a lifetime.
  2. Just for Today, I will try to be happy, realizing that my happiness does not depend on what others do or say or what happens around me. Happiness is result of being at peace with myself.
  3. Just for Today, I will try to adjust myself to what is and not force everything to adjust to my own desires. I'll accept my family, my friends, my business, my circumstances as they come.
  4. Just for Today, I will take care of myself.   Just for Today,I will take care of my physical health.  I will exercise my mind. I will read something spiritual.
  5.  Just for Today, I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. If anybody knows about it, it will not count. I will do at least one thing I don't want to do and I will perform some small act of love for my neighbor.
  6. Just for Today, I will try to go out of my way to be kind to someone I meet. I will be considerate, talk low and look as good as I can. I will not engage in unnecessary criticism or fighting fault nor try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.
  7. Just for Today, I will have a program. I may not follow exactly but I will have it.I will save myself from tempests, hurry and indecision.
  8. Just for today, I will stop saying if I had time, I never will find time for anything. If I want time, I must make it.
  9. Just for Today, I will have a quiet type of meditation wherein I shall think of my higher power of myself and my neighbor. I shall relax and seek truth.
  10. Just for Today, I shall be unafraid. Particularly, I shall be unafraid to be happy,to enjoy what is good, what is beautiful and what is lovely in life.
  11. Just for Today, I will not compare myself to others. I will accept myself and live to the best of my ability.
  12. Just for today, I choose to believe that I can live this one day.

Here's a series of prayers that I do that come from Alcoholics Anonymous or the 12 Step Fellowship. This is often referred to as a 3rd Step, 7th Step, and 11thStep prayer.

3rd Step Prayer

God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and do with me as Thy will. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I might better do thy will. Take away my difficulty that victory over that may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always.

7th Step Prayer

God, I am now willing that you should have all of me good and bad. I pray that you remove from me every single defect of character which stands in my way of Thy usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding.

You hear the word defect of character often in the 12 Steps.  I don't really love that word. To me defect of character means-take away all the false voices that I say about myself.

11Th Step Prayer

Lord make me an instrument of thy  peace that where there is hatred, I may bring love. That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness. That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.That where there is error, I may bring truth. That where there is doubt, I may  bring faith. That where there is despair, I may bring hope. That where there are shadow I may bring light. That where there is sadness, I'm going to bring joy. Lord, grant that I seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted. To understand than to be understood. To love than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one is awakened to eternal life.

This prayer also comes from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is the acceptance prayer. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed it is because I find some person, place,thing or situation. Some fact of my life unacceptable to me and I can find no serenity until I can accept that person place thing or situation as being exactly the way it's supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing,happens in God's world by mistake.

The Serenity Prayer is probably my favorite prayer. I say it frequently in the morning and throughout the day. I also have a little serenity coin that I carry around in my pockets, 

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer comes from a book called, “Drop the Rock God,” I don't care what I sound like or look like, who my partners are or where I live. I just don't want to be like this anymore. On your terms in your time, please remake me as you will. Thank you.  

Another prayer,God give me the courage and strength to know who I really am. To act accordingly in my life and to refrain from diverting my time and energy and interest into my character defects. Again, character defects meaning that voice in my head that usually tells me nothing but crap. Universe, put me in a place you want me to be today, with the people you want me to be with, doing the things you want me to do. Thank you for the adventure, joy and challenges of my life.

I found this prayer when I was at Hazelden Treatment Center for a retreat.  It's a little memo that says, Good morning, this is God. I will be handling all your problems today and I will not need your help, so enjoy your day. 

This last prayer was shared with me by one of my clients. It's a very simple prayer.  I frequently use this prayer if I don't know what to pray about.  It called the Hand Prayer or the Five Finger Prayer.

I start with my thumb and that points up, so I pray to God.  Next, I go to my pointer finger and that looks at direction and I pray for a certain direction of my life. The middle finger is for sins or something that I regret or I have an amends or an apology to make.The next finger is my ring finger which is for relationships. I pray for my relationships.  Finally, the pinkie finger, which is the smallest and the weakest finger, I pray for the weak, I pray for people who have less than me and people who are in different social economic status than I might be.

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