Pray As If

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman at the start of Arizona’s monsoon season. It’s finally fall…and the lesson endures the seasons.

It’s that time of year in Arizona when we long for the monsoon to come and cool the temps by at least a few degrees. Early Saturday morning, toward the end of a lovely, meditative hike with my friend Beth and the three canines, I felt several drops of rain hit my arms and face. While scant raindrops might go unnoticed by most, we desert dwellers are on high alert, and treasure them even if only a few fall.index

“It’s raining,” I exclaimed. “Well, at least I felt raindrops.”

I looked up to the sky. There were some rogue clouds – indeed, one which was producing this sprinkling – but certainly no monsoon-style, cumulonimbus towers.

Then Beth said something remarkable. “It’s funny, I was just thinking about doing a rain dance.”

“You did one,” I replied.

I was reminded of a classic lesson I learned many years ago reading the book The Isaiah Effect. In it, author Gregg Braden relays the story of having been invited by a Native American friend, David, to share in an experience of what he thought was to be a prayer for rain during a major drought.

Gregg observed his friend’s short and silent ritual, after which David was ready to leave and get lunch. Puzzled and apparently expecting a longer and more participatory ceremony, he said he thought they had come to this place to pray for rain.

David answered.  “If we pray for rain, rain could never happen. Because the moment you pray for something to occur, you just acknowledged that it does not exist.”

He went on to explain.

“In my prayer, I began with the feeling of gratitude for all that is and all that has come to pass. I gave thanks for the desert wind, the heat, and the drought, for that is the way of it, until now. It is not good. It is not bad. It has been our medicine.

Then I chose a new medicine. I began to have the feeling of what rain feels like. I felt the feeling of rain upon my body. Standing in the stone circle, I imagined that I was in the plaza of our village, barefoot in the rain. I felt the feeling of wet earth oozing between my naked toes. I smelled the smell of rain on the straw-and-mud walls of our village after the storm. I felt what it feels like to walk through fields of corn growing up to my chest because the rains have been so plentiful.”

Like David’s, Beth’s rain dance in her mind and heart had been a prayer for rain, though perhaps less intentional. And so began that morning’s desert lesson. Be careful what you pray for – you just might get it.

It turns out that’s the title of a book by Larry Dossey MD. Dossey is known for his groundbreaking work exploring the role of prayer in healing. His research has led to what he calls the non-local mind and the merging of spirit and medicine. He says this book’s purpose is to help people gain the ability to reshape private thoughts for the benefit of mankind.

Back at home after the hike; the lesson was presented as another reminder that our thoughts and feelings pack a punch. They are, as Braden, Dossey (and I) have witnessed, our prayers.

Settling down to breakfast, I glanced at a post from the evening before. It was an account of an unfolding event in which a man’s three dogs were apparently stolen before his eyes. Even though it involved strangers, I had been shaken by it. I felt the man’s grief, as well as anger toward the person who, on the surface, appeared to be a perpetrator.

I tried to wipe it from my previously blissful psyche. But my sadness prevailed. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me that I was praying for rain. I was further endangering the situation by amplifying my own negative emotions. A calm came over me and I very simply and deliberately imagined – felt – a positive outcome. Even more importantly, I reframed my feelings toward the woman suspected of wrongdoing. Reminded of the wise saying, “Let God handle the details,” I did not wish her to have a change of heart and return what she had purportedly stolen. I simply raised her up in my heart, in a loving and non-judgmental way. In my prayer, I asked that she connect with her highest and best self.

One hour later, I saw a post confirming the outcome. The dogs had been returned and all was well.

I don’t claim to fully understand the quantum mechanics of prayer, and I don’t believe my practice was solely responsible for this welcome outcome. Yet I know what Dossey says is true. Our private thoughts do impact the collective.

Reframing emotions is not easy. I was able to reframe mine on this morning in good part because I just had walked in the rain that my friend’s mental dance had produced. This is the first lesson, spirited women, the one before the big prayer. Gather strength from the seemingly small or inconsequential miracles that you create with the resonance you put out through your thoughts and feelings. Your faith will build as you gain awareness of how very powerful you are.

“We must feel the feeling as if the prayer has already been answered.”

—Gregg Braden

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