Philip Dunn Prayer: Language of the Soul

ISBN 13: 9780440226512

Prayer: Language of the Soul

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9780440226512: Prayer: Language of the Soul

St. Anselm's prayer for guidance...Krishna's prayer for lovers...an Irish prayer for inner peace...a Navajo healing prayer--over 300 prayers from around the world provide the right words for private devotions or moments shared with friends, congregation, or family. Spanning an enormous range of spiritual subjects, this remarkable collection can be used as an element in a spiritual quest, for meditation and study, or to explore the sacred words of other cultures and religions. You'll find information on:

The home temple and prayer environments
Mantras and daily meditations
Resources for locating prayer circles, centers, internet prayer links
Exceptional retreats, cathedrals, and sacred sites to visit when traveling in the U.S. or abroad

Plus an index of first lines and a subject index

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Publisher:

A magnificent compendium of sacred words for contemplation and inspiration

"Exquisite . . . I will use this book as a treasured resource for meditation and prayer."
--Thomas Moore, author of Care Of The Soul

"An inspiring look at the majestic activity of prayer. This book emphasizes the universality of prayer and its capacity to connect us with the Divine."
--Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Prayer Is Good Medicine

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Most people consider the course of events as natural and inevitable.

They little know what radical changes are possible through prayer.


Paramahansa Yogananda
During a time in India, while visiting an ashram south of Bombay, I sat before a spiritual teacher who had been working with westerners from the United States and Europe, most of whom had come to him for the same reasons I was there--some form of search for the inner life.  He had instructed many individuals in meditation and prayer, and during our conversation he asked me if I knew what prayer was.  I hesitated, trying to formulate an intelligible answer, something I supposed might impress him with my virtues, virtues that I imagined then might be appropriate to someone I undoubtedly considered my superior in such matters.  What was prayer? What was prayer for me? What could prayer be for others in my world, or any world for that matter? Nothing came.  He remained silently waiting for my response.  Perhaps prayer was contemplation.  Perhaps it was a silent awareness of truth.  Perhaps it was a mystical value that eluded me and had something to do with God, or silence or stillness.  Somehow the words would not formulate into anything that could possibly make any sense, let alone make him feel that I was a good subject for his wisdom.

So without further ado I told him that I did not know what prayer was, but I knew what it wasn't.  I felt that when I was thinking I wasn't praying.  That when I was worrying I wasn't praying.  I felt that when I was rushing around at high speed in my life as an achiever I probably wasn't praying either, and that in fact, come to think of it, pretty much everything I did in my life wasn't praying!

He smiled benevolently, exactly the way one would expect such a being to smile.  It was as though a ray of approval had been cast over me, and despite my weaknesses and my lack of holiness, I had dearly told him exactly what he wanted to hear, or rather I had told him something that was acceptable to him.  As a westerner in the presence of the most holy of individuals, I had found the best thing that western seekers like to find: divine approval; the summit, it seemed then, of achievement.  And I had found it simply by being honest.

Not knowing what prayer was was the first step to learning and understanding what it is.  Like Alcoholics Anonymous tells its students, the first thing you have to do in order to recover from alcoholism is to admit that you drink too much.  I, as a student, or patient, seeking help from Achievers Anonymous, or Thinkers Anonymous, had past the first grade.  I had admitted the sickness.  In fact, he went on to tell me that actually, all I needed to do to learn what prayer was was to realize that I was constantly in a state of prayer whether I knew it or not, and all the thinking and feeling, doubting and worrying was prayer--a certain type of prayer that is begging the divine existence around me to help me relax.

Please God, help me to stop worrying, chattering in my mind, and give me some relief from all these constant habits that prevent me from finding joy in my life--worry, worry, worry!

It became increasingly clear to me over the following years that everything is actually prayer of one sort or another, and that as we become more and more aware of this, so also we, in a manner of speaking, open up the gaps between the thoughts, fears, and doubts--gaps where silence exists--and allow a kind of divine intervention to happen that provides us with more and more space to be silent and still.  Mankind has always, since the beginning of time, yearned for peace, for some sort of break from the moment-to-moment round of activities and troubles he envisages that his life is made from.  "God, if only I could take a break!" "My God, I have so much to do, I think I'll never get a vacation!" "Jesus, when will I ever find some peace in all this?" Most of us have uttered such prayers on a constant basis during our lives, and if we finally reach a point where we are genuinely exhausted by events, tired of the never-ending hassle of life, it is then that we begin to revolt against it and look for the gaps that provide us with deeper prayer and meditation.

Another way in which God, life, existence--whatever we wish to call the divine--provides us with an opportunity to learn about prayer is through disillusionment.  Life has a habit of disappointing us over and over again.  We fail in our work, our relationships, and our attempts to find happiness.  Even when we are successful in these things, we very often still feel like failures, as though life wants to knock us on the head just for the sake of it.

He looked up at the sky
And it rained on his head,
So he looked down at the ground
And a dog hit him.  
So he buried himself in his work
And they fired him.
So he took pills and died
But they sent him back.


These are simply opportunities for us to take another step forward, and the most profound disillusionment is probably the most profound state of potential learning, for if we finally become tired and disillusioned with everything, we are forced one of two ways: death (perhaps not physical but certainly psychological), depression, bitterness, doubt, cynicism--conditions that Western man is thoroughly familiar with, especially during old age.  Or alternatively, transformation.

This book is not about having doubts, or about becoming depressed, bitter, and cynical.  It is hopefully an attempt to help toward transformation.  For prayer transforms.

It doesn't have to be dramatic transformation, though it can be.  It can also be very tender, partial, temporary, even fleeting.  All this is transformation, and it's a lot better than pain, bitterness, and sadness.

The following pages are made up of various guides for those who know what prayer isn't as well as those who may know what it is, or believe that they might.  There is a history of prayer plus a series of sections on the different kinds of prayer that have been practiced by all the various formats of religiousness.  This book is intended to entertain and enlighten those who are interested.  There is some fairly healthy advice on what prayer can do for us, as even some scientists and doctors these days believe prayer to be a cure for many ills, both physical and psychological, and we already know what good it does for the spirit.

Then, there is the prayer section, with around 300 prayers ranging across all denominations and all times in history.

Finally there is a section providing addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail and Web site addresses for locations that seem the most exciting and dramatic examples of how prayer can be used to generate joy in the world.  This includes selected locations for Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Judaic, Native American, Shamanic, Wiccan, Sufi, and non- and trans-denominational centers throughout the United States.  In this section there are also a number of addresses for organizations and institutions that seem relevant to prayer in the United States plus an international section for travelers.

At the end of the book there is a first-line index to help find familiar prayers, a key-word index, and a directory of prayer sources.  There is also a bibliography and reading list.

I hope that you enjoy the book and that if you still don't know what prayer is at the end of it, you will read it again!

Prayers Before Meals
Lord, as now we break the fast,
We thank you for the night safe passed.
Now grant safe keeping on our way,
Good cheer and strength and health all day.


Thomas Elwood, breakfast grace
For what we are aloout to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.  Amen.

Prayer before meals
We thank Thee, Lord, for happy hearts,
For rain and sunny weather.  
We thank Thee, Lord, for this our food,
And that we are together.


Emilie Fendaee Johnson
Father we thank Thee for the night
And for the pleasant morning light.
For rest and food and loving care,
And all that makes the day so fair.  
Help us to do the things we should
To be to others kind and good,
In all we do, in all we say,
To grow more loving every day.


Rebecca J.  Weston, breakfast prayer
Thank you very, very much;
my God, thank you.  
Give me food today,
food for my sustenance every day.  
Thank you very, very much.


Samburu (Kenya)
May the Lord accept this, our offering and bless our food that it may bring us strength in our body, vigor in our mind, and selfless devotion in our hearts for His service.

Swami Paramananda
Now that I am about to eat, O Great Spirit, give my thanks to the beasts and birds whom You have provided for my hunger; and pray deliver my sorrow that living things must make a sacrifice for my comfort and well-being.

Let the feather of corn spring up in its time and let it not wither but make full grains for the fires of our cooking pots, now that I am about to eat.


Native American grace
We come to join in the banquet of love.  Let it open our hearts and
break down the fears that keep us from loving each other.


Dominican grace
This ritual is one.
The food is one.
We who offer the food are one.
The fire of hunger is also one.
All action is one.
We who understand this are one.


Hindu prayer for meals

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