Today I am happy to share about our family prayers, which we begun recently, and now become a regular routine for us. We have begun with the rosary as my daughter in her eagerness has started and she also includes some written prayers that are available at home, while I appreciate her and find it easy to participate, I also feel that, prayer has to be spontaneous, because of my own journey in understanding prayer, I had learnt to pray on my own, as the concept of God kept changing in my life.
My husband too is used to praying spontaneously, and we do not really use written prayers, while we value those prayers, at the same time we want our daughter also to, learn to pray on her own, so in order to help her, I suggested that she include some songs in our prayer, to make our family prayer lively and interesting. She was very happy with the suggestion, and so has started including her favorite hymns during the prayer time, and slowly I taught her to use the words of the song for prayer, as she finds it difficult to pray on her own.
While she is learning to pray, I remember, when I was a small child, I was taught to pray, and I had begun with rosary and written prayers, I could not pray on my own because I was actually frightened of God, in my mind, God was someone who is waiting to catch me doing wrong, and so he is ready to punish me when I am not a good child, as this thinking has its roots to my childhood experience, for I recall in our family we had a huge photograph of heaven and hell, and whenever I made a mistake, my eldest sister used to take me and show me that photograph where the devils are caught up in a flame and suffering, and all the holy people like the priests, nuns and other good people are moving to heaven peacefully, where the angels are waiting to receive them.
The picture was frightening and it instilled in me a lot of fear for God, negatively, I grow up with this concept and gradually my thinking changed when I went to school, for I learnt from my friends in school, to pray for success during examination, promising to burn candles, making a business deal with God, and so my concepts kept on changing from a punishing God to more of a business men, and then God became a fire extinguisher, for I thought about him only in crisis, and it took a lot of time in my life to finally understand and experience unconditional love from my friends, and listening to their faith story, enabled me to also find God in myself and also in others.
Today I believe God is someone who is divine, who lives in me, and also in every person I come across in life, and he is my very breath, so I am not afraid of him/her and I also believe that I am loved and accepted as I am – hence there are no conditions from God. I share a relationship with him, which gives me power to be called as his child, and as a child of God, I walk in faith believing that I am divinely protected and guided.
As I move on in life, discovering God and myself, I am learning to also to move beyond religion and rituals, which is given me comfort, and inner freedom to be myself, and leading me to be connected with people around me, giving me a sense of gratitude towards parents, friends, teachers and inspiring books, and of course listening to spiritual masters.
Be Blessed & Happy !