The following is in answer to questions raised in a Western Philosophy Class on Religion at College of the Siskiyous. Weed, CA.
“Prayer has been an essential part of Christianity since its earliest days. Prayer is an integral element of the Christian faith and permeates all forms of Christian worship. Prayer in Christianity is the tradition of communicating with God, either in God's fullness or as one of the persons of the Trinity.” (Wikipedia, 2013.)
Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with Prayer, though at it’s premise in the way most seem to use it, perpetuates two lies; one that there is something that the one praying is separate from and two, that things can be some other way than how they are. They are both actually the same thing.
Prayer is actually saying that the one that is being prayed to … isn’t doing a good enough job and could do better. It would be just as wise to begin to accept things how they are and the possibility (the very real possibility) that you don’t know how things are supposed to be. Then you begin to grow out Faith (which does not require any prayer) that everything is perfect and unfolding perfectly and always has, even though you may not understand why or how it is unfolding. If you still require “prayer,” then possibly one might pray to begin to know this … to begin to have Faith that this is so.
Things cannot be any other way than how they are, if they could they would be. That seems pretty easy to see (as long as you are willing to stop telling a story of how things should be, and just begin to experience them exactly as they are). If something is going to be some other way, just watch … it will … things are constantly shifting and changing and if one begins to stop listening to the thoughts about how things should be, and begins to pay attention to how they are … the mind begins to become quieter and quieter.
“Vygotsky theorized that very young children don’t think silently to themselves the way adults do — at first they only “think” by speaking out loud to their parents, siblings, or caregivers. Later, this develops into “self-talk” (if you’ve ever been around young children you may have noticed them mumbling to themselves when they’re alone in their rooms). Later still, self-talk internalizes, and becomes inner speech (what adults experience as thinking — or at least one type of thinking).” (Moyer. 2013)
This is what is being pointed to. You weren’t born thinking. You were born in Stillness and came into a world of noise “thinking.” You “learned” to “think.” Prior to thinking/thoughts ... there was only the natural state of simply “Being” Aware of everything in Stillness. This is how it is right now, begin to stop paying attention to the thoughts and begin paying attention to the Stillness.
“The Jesus Prayer or “The Prayer” has been widely taught and discussed throughout the history of the Eastern Churches. It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer known as Hesychasm meaning "to keep stillness"). (Wikipedia. 2013.)
Not surprisingly, this Prayer is popular in the East, but not in the West. The East has been immersed for thousands of years in the practice of placing the attention on Stillness, not the thoughts. Thoughts are given a great deal of importance in the West, because it is what most identify with as “who they are” as part of or sometimes the entire identity/personality. However, if this is really honestly looked at; how can one “be” a thought?
When one becomes ready to let go of the thought “I” … Stillness (in a sense, rushes in and fills all of everything) then there is no room for the thought “I” there is only Stillness … just like when you were a child and you didn’t “think” to exist … you just existed in Stillness. That is where one returns (though has not ever left), they release the thought “I” back into the Stillness from which it appeared. No “I,” no problems (who would have them), no prayer needed in Stillness, one would not be still to pray for something.
This does not mean that the world stops, you just begin to experience it from a place of Eternal Stillness. The mouth will still move (for some) the body will as well, there will look like there are problems but there will not be anyone there for the problem, there will just be a watching of all of the movie playing out, which also includes people praying for things in the movie.
Another way of seeing this is like going to a movie, you sit there in Silence (which is not Stillness but it is a close in the world pointer). Sometimes you have a “thought” that you would like the movie to go some other way than how it is going. However, you cannot change the movie just because you *think* it should be some other way. Most people should be able to see this analogy. This is how it is with life and prayer … life/the movie is playing out for your entertainment (feel free to ask “who’s”) and “prayer” is like the “thought” in the movie theater … it doesn’t hurt anything to have it but it doesn’t change a dang thing either. :o)