I have long been interested in yoga and in prayer. I now combine these as a daily combined practice that allows me to live an extra-ordinary life beyond belief.

Yoga and prayer have the same essential intention. This is to unify that personal sense of separation that is at the core of most unnecessary suffering both individually and collectively on this planet.

This is not your usual understanding of the practice of prayer and will for many be a challenge.  However, prayer as practiced by most people is for the most part ineffective. This is not their fault. It is because they have not been taught how to practice in a way that allows prayer to be manifested.

This reflection on Yoga and prayer is shared as follows:-

Yoga and Prayer Menu

I have long been interested in yoga and in prayer. I now combine these as a daily combined practice that allows me to live an extra-ordinary life beyond belief.

Yoga and prayer have the same essential intention. This is to unify that personal sense of separation that is at the core of most unnecessary suffering both individually and collectively on this planet.

This is not your usual understanding of the practice of prayer and will for many be a challenge.  However, prayer as practiced by most people is for the most part ineffective. This is not their fault. It is because they have not been taught how to practice in a way that allows prayer to be manifested.

This reflection on Yoga and prayer is shared as follows:-

Yoga and Prayer Menu

Yoga as a Secular Practice

practicing yoga as a prayer

For most people practicing Yoga in the West this practice is a secular practice meaning that the intention of the practice is not in any way focused on experiencing union with the Divine.

However, the core intention of Yoga is the direct experience of Union with the Divine. This is the meaning of the word ‘Yoga.’

The keyways in which this union is invited are through the traditional practices of:-

  • Meditation
  • Contemplation or
  • Prayer

Contemplation is the word used for meditation in the Christian tradition. Prayer is used within all religious traditions. However, in the opinion of this writer most all prayer is ineffective.

This is because its purpose, like Yoga, is practiced incorrectly.

Meditation and Prayer

prayer meditation and yoga

Image by drromie from Pixabay

When researching for an image that I could add to this blog post I came across an image with the following quote:-

Prayer is when you talk to God and meditation is when God talks to you.

This is a simple explanation as regards the difference between prayer and meditation. Except, that in the opinion of this writer, it is misleading.

For a long time I have been interested in exploring what it REALLY means to pray. Over time I have come to define prayer in this way.

Prayer is the journey into listening to the voice of the Divine as it is to be expressed through you.

There are a number of key aspects in relation to this definition. These are that prayer is:-

  • A Journey.
  • Listening
  • Hearing
  • Expression

So let me share with you my personal understanding of this adventure into the practice of prayer that allows you to live an extra-ordinary life.

Prayer as a Journey

journey of prayer

Image by ev3177 from Pixabay

My personal view as regards prayer is that it is a journey. It is a journey of surrender and faith.

Usually prayer, as understood by the average person, is a practice where you ask God, or the Divine, for something that you need or want. Very often this is done when there is a crisis such as illness or loss of some kind.

This is where, for most people, the journey of prayer begins. This is where for most people the journey of prayer remains. It becomes a form of Cosmic ordering whereby you tell the Divine what you want.

It does not move into a way of being in Communion with Divine Purpose as it is intended to be expressed through you.

This kind of Cosmic Ordering has been made popular by teachers of what is referred to as The New Thought Movement. It has now become a mainstream secular practice via what is called The Law of Attraction or The Secret.

The fundamental error in practicing prayer in this way is that your core understanding of Life remains. This is that you and the Divine are separate. In maintaining that idea there is no Communion and no prayer is ever answered because there is no FELT connection to Source.

This poses a further question. In the Bible it declares:-

Ask and it Shall be Given – Matthew 7:7

This seems to indicate that all you have to do is ask and what you want you will get. If this were the case then surely, we would all ask for peace and prosperity for all and the result would be Heaven on Earth.

There are many sincere individuals praying each day, even five times each day, and still the world has not been given what most right-minded individuals long to have established on Earth which is Peace, Prosperity and Presence for all.

The problem is that most people are not taught HOW TO ASK and ALLOW TO BE GIVEN.

How to Ask in Prayer

how to ask in prayer

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

In the journey of prayer that is a glorious adventure there are two key aspects related to learning HOW TO ASK. These are:-

  • Intention
  • Surrender and
  • Faith

This is how you begin.

For your prayer practice to be effective you have to begin with RIGHT INTENTION. Right intention can be summed up in a very short phrase from the Lord’s prayer. This is:-

Thy will be done. – Matthew 6:10

This changes the whole focus of the practice of prayer. It moves the energy from a focus on the personal self to alignment with the intention of the TRUE SELF. In this way you take the 1st step in communion.

With this focus you are asking but you are not dictating to the Divine.

You are willing to be an instrument of Divine intention. This is what you are always created to be. In learning how to be in alignment with this is your KEY to living and extraordinary life. This is a life of flow and out pouring of Love.

This requires to dynamics to be introduced into your way of living. These are:-

  • Surrender.
  • Faith

Let’s look at these dynamics.

Surrender and Faith

surrender and faith

Image by catjie522 from Pixabay

Surrender and faith go together like peaches and cream.

Surrender of the personal will is the 1st step in learning HOW TO pray effectively. This is a KEY understanding of all religions of the world. Unfortunately they have not taught this KEY practice.

Instead most religious teachings invite the individual into a practice of belief rather than a practice of surrender to that which is beyond belief. You can start with belief. Belief can be a signpost on the way but most believers become people who cling to signposts (Eckhart Tolle).

In order to enter a state of prayer you have to KNOW what it feels like to be in a state of surrender. Having learned to enter this state then you then practice the second key dynamic which is FAITH.

Faith here is not to be understood as agreeing with a given set of words that from what is called scripture. Faith in relation to learning HOW TO pray effectively relates to your WILLINGNESS to enter into the unknown but not the unknowable.

The word faith has been turned on its head to mean adherence to a script that you follow rather than an extraordinary journey into the unknown that created you to be known through as a unique and one-off expression of Divine intention.

What? Are you still pretending you are separate from the Beloved?” – Rumi

So this is why most prayer doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because you are not surrendered to the unknown which created you to KNOW itself through you.

The way in which most of us are taught to pray is through the use of petition to a Source that we feel we are forever separate from. In this way there is continued belief in separation and there is never any connection to the ability to “be given.”

How to Pray Effectively

living and effective prayer life

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

So if you are interested in learning HOW TO pray effectively then you need to have as your primary intention the alignment of your personal will with that of the Divine.

Here’s the nub of the problem.

It isn’t any business of yours what that intention is. Your business, your work, is only to be willing to have that unknown intention be KNOWN through you. Over time you begin to KNOW that this is a very extra ordinary way of living and Being in the world. This is what I call intentional living.

With that focus you learn in the words of St. Paul to, “Pray always.” This means you are living your life in such a a way that your energy system is tuned to the will of the Divine. You become a sensitive listening device for the Still Small Voice Within.

How to Pray Effectively Menu

  • Key Prayer Instruction
  • Step 1 – Don’t Speak.
  • Step 2 – Enter the Closet.
  • Step 3 – Close the Door.
  • Step 4 – Pray in Secret.
  • Step 5 – Trust the Process.

Key Prayer Instruction

key to successful prayer life

Image by Peter Lomas from Pixabay

So how do you pray effectively. Here is the premier instruction in learning how to live a prayerful life that allows you to experience the extra ordinary invitation to union(Yoga).

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Matthew 6:5-8 (KJV)

So let me unfold this premier instruction that for the most part is ignored by those who practice a prayer life.

Step 1 – Don’t Speak

prayer as the practice of silence

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

The 1st step is very clear. You are to cease from praying as most people pray. You are certainly to cease from using vain repetition.

Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation. – Rumi

You are categorically advised that you are not going to be heard by way of much speaking. So before you do anything else you are told to keep quiet.

Silence is the nearest thing to God – Miester Eckhart – Christian Mystic (1260-1398)

This is the practice of surrender. You don’t dictate. You move into the next step.

Entering the Closet

prayer as entering the closet

Photo by nrd on Unsplash

Do not take this instruction literally.

You might laugh at my saying this but this has been done by fundamentalist Christian evangelists in the U.S.A.

At a mission attended by Bill O’Donohue (not the Bill Donohue, Ph.D. President Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights ) but the outspoken Bill Donohue of Hidden Meanings found that in the foyer of the Centre where the Mission was being held there were closets that people were invited to go into in order to pray.

The closet refers to an inner state of silence.

Most people have not been taught HOW TO enter the closet. (More on this in a later section of this article). This closet is referred to by the Islamic mystic Rumi as your, “Heart House.”

Close the Door

closing the door in prayer

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When you are instructed to close the door this means that you tune out the outside world and you tune into the inner world.

Be patient and kind to yourself here.

The mainstream education in the West has not taught you how to do this. For more than enough centuries from the moment you were born you have been trained to focus our attention on the world of the outer.

More than this, by reason of the fact that you are a human being on this planet, you are subject to the collective belief in separateness from Source that is the primary cause of most unnecessary suffering.

Your primary identity is focused on the idea of a personality.

You are unconsciously chanting the mantra, “I am separate from Source.” You rarely, if ever, get to “Feel the Force” and KNOW your eternal connection to Source. This is the, so called, normal way of living life of this Planet.

Closing the door is a practice that you learn. It is probably the easiest part of learning HOW TO pray effectively.

Pray in Secret

effective prayer rewards you in secret

The Secret of Secrets is Inside Me Again – Anna Akhmatova

This is where you begin to practice what it really means to live a prayerful life.

Firstly its not about YOU personally.

It’s about YOU as the TRUE SELF living in alignment with, but not separate from, Source (Your Father). When the Master Jesus uses the word “Father” do not take this as being gender specific.

Certainly the Master Jesus is not referring to a white male wearing a beard who sits in judgement on his creation that he will one day destroy in rapture. This is simply, and sadly, a projection of an idea of God arising from the experience of personal separation from Life.

When you pray in secret you pray in silence.

You listen. You listen for that still small voice within. This takes time because you have been taught to listen to everything other than Source energy. To begin with there will be no voice heard. You will begin to attune to the Power of Silence.

As you journey into a deepening love of silence then the still small voice within becomes your guide to living an extra ordinary life.

You are rewarded in Secret. The Secret of Secrets is inside you again (Anna Akhmatova – A Land Not Mine)

You begin to become a flow of Divine Creation. Your creative energy flows in the way it is intended. You feel alive. You feel prosperous in the true sense of the word. You feel yourself to be an outpouring of Grace.

Notice that there are no words.

There is no dictating. There is intention to trust the silence that is unknowable but through which the will of the Divine can be KNOWN.

You become a channel for Love’s Purpose as it is wonderfully Created to be expressed through you and as you. There is less and less feeling of separation from Source. You are moving to the KNOWING that the Father and I are One.

Trust in the Process

trust in the process of prayer

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He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted. – Lao Tzu

So in a very real sense you are practicing not doing. This is a very different way of living. It helps balance your focus on doing your life.

With an effective prayer life you find yourself being done through. There is more of the Divine and less and less of you as a separate sense of the personal self.

You are no longer dictating the agenda for your life. This Divine is being recognized, not as something you dictate too. It is more and more allowed to express through you as it KNOWS HOW to better than you will ever know.

You will be rewarded in secret. This will be in ways beyond your knowing. The challenge is whether or not you will trust the process or will you go searching for proof that the prayer has been answered.

What will indicate that your prayer life is working is the level of your energy. Are you coming more alive? Are you excited, encouraged and enthusiastic? Are you expressing Love for no reason? Are you relaxing into a sense of trust and surrender to existence?

A Personal Yoga and Prayer Practice

yoga and prayer practice

So there you have an introduction to the way in which to pray effectively.

So how does this relate to the practice of Yoga and can you combine the two. The answer is YES you can combine the two.

So let me share with you my personal prayer practice as it is aligned with living a Yoga lifestyle.

Entering the Closet

I enter the closet by way of the practice of Yoga Nidra. This is a daily practice that I begin each day with. You can learn more about Yoga Nidra here.

Then following entering the closet I close the door of the overthinking personal mind through the practice of witness consciousness.

The silence then deepens and many times the challenge is to stay awake. This happens.

Then toward the end of the practice of Yoga Nidra I state my Sankalpa. This is my true heart’s desire. This intention is stated as follows:-

Thy will be done – Matthew 6:10

Then I stay with the silence for a little longer. I have learned to have FAITH in this process. I don’t talk except that the thoughts in my head go around and around.

I listen without trying to grasp at what is being given (Surrender).

Later in the day there is much creativity. Life begins to do through me. Life begins to think through me. Life is free flow. Life is Love. I live as Love in action. I live a prayful life. It is to my mind an extraordinary way of living.

The Challenge of Yoga and Prayer

the challenge of yoga and prayer

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So here is a summary of HOW TO pray effectively. This is a challenge to the ego because you are consciously giving over control of your personal sense of self to the Universal sense of SELF.

Here is a step by step summary of the practice as I personally practice living an intentional prayer life.

  1. Stop Speaking.
  2. Enter Sacred Space.
  3. Practice Yoga Nidra.
  4. State my Sankalpa.
  5. Let go Expectations.
  6. Pay Attention to Y-E-S.

That is the way I practice a life of prayer in alignment with living a yoga lifestyle. It works wonderfully well for me. I feel I live an extra ordinary life. From this way of living and being in the world I really have only one wish.

I wish that when you are lonely and in darkness that I could show you the astonishing light of your own Being – Hafiz.

I hope that the above reflection on Yoga and prayer might point you in the right direction for living your wild and precious life. (Summer Day Mary Oliver)

Maybe you have a question as regards an aspect of the above. If so please feel free to comment or email me at [email protected]

Prayer and Yoga Resources

The resources here include audio recordings, videos, Cd’s and Courses related to learning how to combine Yoga with the powerful practice of prayer.

My focus here is to invite you to further explore the power of prayer particularily as it is related to the practices of meditation and contemplation.

Courses related to the Journey of Prayer

Here is another course that I took on my continuing journey into the practice of prayer as part of living a yoga lifestyle. I think its a great place to start if you are interested in beginning to explore the power of prayer. It isn’t specifically related to Yoga.

At the time of writing around 28,000 plus individuals have taken this course and there are fabulous reviews. I think that speaks for itself. I loved this course. Here is a section from the introduction to the course

Exploring Your Connection to the Divine

By the end of the 21 sessions, you will have a rich “toolkit” of prayer practices that you can use to address any challenge you face with clarity, confidence, and love. Allow Angela Montano to guide you home to your genuine self by activating the power of prayer within your own soul.

Throughout the ages, wise individuals have employed prayer to fill their lives with greatness, as its benefits are endless – from physical and psychological improvements to influencing the destiny of our world affairs. Prayer can disintegrate despair, create a perspective of miracle-mindedness and enable you to see magnificent

This course is for you if you want to…

  • Heal your toxic relationship with religion, prayer or God
  • Create a deeper, stronger, richer connection to your divinity
  • Be supported in everything you do
  • Awaken to Infinite possibilities
  • Experience the ultimate self-care
  • Live with more purpose and meaning.

Find out more about 21 Days of Prayer to Transform Your Life

igniting the flame of prayer

I recommend the following course for anyone who is interested in what might be called Radical Prayer.

This course is given by a modern mystic called Andrew Harvey. He is the person who really is responsible for my beginning what I call the Journey into prayer and yoga.

That journey started in earnest for me when I listened to his presentation by Sounds True entitled RADIANT HEART -The Radical Teachings of Jesus and the Christian Mystics

Here is an introduction to what the Course entited Igniting the Flame of Prayer – How the Practice of Evolutionary Prayer can Transform Your Life and Birth the Divine Human in You.

Igniting the Flame of Prayer

Receive initiation into the ancient science and practice of sacred prayer from the world’s esoteric traditions to illumine your body, commune more deeply with the Divine and help birth heaven on Earth.

Prayer is not one-dimensional. There are a wide variety of ways to pray – from mantric prayers to prayers of silence, from “dangerous” prayer that offers deep surrender to God, to prayers of protection. Each has its liberating power to offer, so you can cultivate a full “prayer toolkit” that helps you navigate your daily life with greater centeredness, calm, love, stillness, passion and wisdom.

If you’re ready to rediscover the profound beauty and transformative potential hidden within the daily practice of prayer – this training was designed for you.

  • Understand the nature of prayer and how it can help to heal our individual and collective crises.
  • Discover the different kinds of prayer necessary to birth the divine human.
  • Cultivate the spirit of humility and adoration in which prayer needs to be grounded.
  • Learn how to focus the aim of your prayer into a prayer for the divine birth.
  • Experience the rapture of living in sacred love for all things as a prayer to the Beloved.
  • Discover a new, more comprehensive vision of how prayer can work in an evolutionary context.
  • Learn how you can develop a direct relationship with your hidden divine Self.
  • Deepen your prayer practice to experience higher guidance and accelerate your evolution.

Learn more about this course on transformational prayer by Andrew Harvey HERE.

App/s Related to the Journey of Prayer

https://insighttimer.com/davidcole/guided-meditations/the-purpose-of-contemplation

Podcast/s related to Prayer and Silence

Soundcloud Recordings of Interest

This Inner Woman™ Yoga practice is short and sweet. These short mini practices, I like to call Body Prayers. They are usually less than 10 minutes long, and designed to drop you into your womanly body, awaken your sensual presence, and reconnect with the untamed wisdom of your Inner Woman.

All you need for this practice is a comfortable place to lie down. You can use your yoga mat, but you can also do this gentle practice in the comfort of your bed. It’s a treat to both start and end the day deeply at home in your womanly body, and tuned into your Inner Woman. This mini-yoga-practice will help you do just that.

This moving meditation blends prayer, yoga, & breath into a short and sweet yoga practice. Set to The Lord’s Prayer, Soul Care team member, Amber Jaworsky, will take you through a simple sun salutation flow that invites your heart, soul, mind and strength into your prayer life.

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Tony Cuckson

Writer - Storyteller - Musician at Yoga Journey for Life
Writer of Awakening the Heart - 21 Ways for Following Love's Message. Also author of Being Beautiful - Learning to Treasure the REAL YOU. Workshop Leader in Learning to Companion YOUR Greatness.
Tony Cuckson
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