Prayer can be defined so many different ways by different people and different religions. But isn’t prayer the most personal thing about life? Prayer is something you do to seek guidance, comfort and advice. Why is it that people all over the world want to tell you what prayer is? And why should we feel guilty for the way we pray and/or don’t pray?
I was raised an Episcopalian. I was baptized on Holy Child’s altar and attended all sorts of functions at the same church until I was 14. I am now 24 and believe I am the most spiritual I have ever been, 10 years after leaving the church I grew up in. Every week I attended service and recited the same prayers, effortlessly. I held hands with my fellow worshipers and thought about what I was going to do as soon as service let out, as the familiar words spilled out of my mouth. Thinking back now, I don’t even know what I was praying for or who I was praying to.
Now, I have connected with the idea of Spirit Guides. According to Psychic Faith, “Spirit Guides, can be incarnated family members, spouses, lovers, friends, even acquaintances.” I find comfort in that because I have been praying to my deceased cousin and grandfather. Never have I felt the connection during prayer throughout my childhood like I do now. When I am full of the anxieties of the day and am wound up, restless in bed, I simply calm my mind by talking to them. What I say varies from my day to day troubles but it’s nice to feel like I can speak to them.
I never understood the dreams I have had about my cousin and grandfather until now. Psychic Faith says, “When a Spirit Guide is ready to make contact, they will make their presence known. Often they will come to you in the dream state. Those dreams are actual visits. They always come with gentleness to comfort you, most often leaving you with a gift, a message of hope.” Ah-ha! I’m not crazy after all!
Around Christmas time when I was 13, I had my first experience with spirit guides and dreams. My grandfather had been in the hospital for weeks with lung problems. Though my parents knew his time to leave this earth was probably coming soon, I was completely unaware.
One evening my parents were called to the hospital. They didn’t come home that night and my sister and I were left to get ourselves to bed. I slept through the night until suddenly, I was woken by someone whispering in my ear, “I have something sad to tell you,” the soft voice said, “your grandfather just passed away.” I opened my eyes and looked around. No one was there. I rolled over and looked at the clock — 4:17am. The next day I found that the time I saw on the clock was the time on my grandfather’s death certificate. I asked my parents if they came in and woke me up, but they told me they were at the hospital until 5am.
I have had various dreams about my grandfather through the years. Usually he drops in to tell me something important … “You have a good head on your shoulders, remember to use it,” and “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” were some of the messages he would leave me with. It wasn’t until my 19-year-old cousin died of Leukemia that I really started to understand these dreams.
The first couple of times my cousin came to me I was terrified in the dreams and would run away or scream. I feel bad for my reactions but it’s hard to control yourself in a dream. My favorite dream that I have ever had is one where I was touched by both my grandfather and my cousin.
In my dream my whole family was celebrating Cinco de Mayo at a restaurant by the water. It was really loud and hot — two things my grandfather didn’t like. My grandmother sent me to the car to get my ID so I could have a margarita — she didn’t believe I was of age in my dream. As I walked out to the car I saw my grandfather. There he was, sitting quietly by the parking lot, with a warm grin on his face.
“Grandpa, why aren’t you at the table with everyone else?” I asked him.
“It’s too loud up there,” he responded.
“Have you seen Melissa?” I asked, hoping my cousin was around too.
“No, I haven’t seen her yet, but we have been in contact,” he smiled.
“Right now I hear she’s in Ireland. She has mastered their language and said it is a lot easier than French.” We laughed together as I remembered how much my cousin loved to talk with different accents.
When I woke up I felt comfort. I felt like my grandfather came to me to tell me about my cousin. It felt good to know that they can communicate with each other. It felt even better to know they can communicate with me.
Now when I lay my busy head to sleep, I talk to them. I don’t feel guilty when I ramble on about all the problems in my life. They are my family, they have always listened to me, even if I am being a little selfish. If I don’t pray every single night I don’t feel guilt either. When I wake up at noon on a Sunday, too late to attend any religious service, it doesn’t bother me. Prayer and spirituality are personal. They are not to be dictated by outsiders. Prayer to me is taking time to talk to my family, the people who have, and always will be there for me when I need help in ife. I’m happy to have found a prayer that works for me.