Who To Pray To
Dear Witchful Thinking,
So I’ve heard that Pagans pray and all, but who should I pray to and how should I do it? Or should I? Do Pagans actually pray? Is it different from how Christians pray?
Haven’t Got A Prayer
Prayer is a touchy subject for many Pagans. I suspect that many people are escaping from religion in which prayer was a dominating force, so they associate it too much with the old ways. Indeed, when I hear of people in trouble and needing energy, my first reaction is to light a candle for them, not to get on my knees and pray.
That being said, I think prayer is making a resurgence in individual practice. I believe this because of the seemingly sudden appearance of a few books on the subject including Dewdrops in the Moonlight, A Book of Pagan Prayer, etc. Additionally, the idea of Pagan rosaries or Prayer Beads is making a move in the mainstream culture. Personally, I have three sets of prayer beads, one for Hekate, Athena, and one reciting the Charge of the Goddess as a way to study.
Prayer is talking heart-to-heart with the Divine. Most often, it is because you want or need something, and want to make Spirit aware of it. Many Pagans consider spellcasting an artful prayer. But prayer is a request, and for a spell to be successful, it must be willed and forceful.
How Christians Pray
- Christian doctrine teaches that it is important to put your desires in Gods hands.
- Christians pray for forgiveness of their sins and that of those they love. There is no such request in Pagan prayer.
- For the most part, Christians pray through someone else. My LDS grandmother prays “in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen”. Catholics pray through Mary or a variety of Saints. However, many newer Evangelical denominations will pray directly to God.
- Prayer is for worship and reverence of God.
- Christians do not expect an answer.
The difference between Christian prayer and Pagan prayer is this: Pagans are expected to meet the Gods part way. You know that in spellcraft you have to do something real to manifest it. For example, I want to get a book published, so I do a spell for that, and then I send in an excellent proposal, check up on it, and make connections with people who can help me. I will also pray about it because I want the Gods to know that I want it.
And then, lucky for us, our Gods talk back to us. It is a two way street. We can use divination to understand how to manifest our prayers. Some people hear answers when they pray, or meet the Gods on the Astral levels in meditation and talk with them. I think, most often, the Gods talk to us through signs and omens. At a very low point in my life, I needed a real answer. I begged the Goddess to “give me a sign” that I should go through with a life-changing event. Within three days, I had my answer. I was on the bus that was driving through campus, and in the lawn there were some students with signs, and the only one that I could read said “This Is A Sign”. The answer was pretty obvious to me!
Who should you pray to? You should pray to whomever you are called to. You can pray to the God or the Goddess, or both. Sometimes when I pray, I simply address the Universe. You can pray to plants or animals, or any deity that strikes you. Try to address the one you believe will be best able to help you. Don’t ask Apollo to help you through the snow. Try Thor instead. Sedna can’t help you with your math homework, but Athena would be glad to give it a go with you. That kind of thing. Pray to someone with whom you have a relationship. If you can pray in a way that is appropriate for the culture of that diety, so much the better. I once prayed to Hekate in Greek (albiet very bad Greek…) and lemme tell you, I had her absolute full attention–too much attention, if you ask me!
There are many good sites and books that have prayers and words of worship. You can use one of these if you are stuck and don’t know what to say. It is nice to have a poetic prayer memorized. Using a rosary or prayer beads can help you accomplish that.
Above all, make your prayer heartfelt and honest. It doesn’t matter if you bow your head or address the sky, or keep your eyes opened or closed. And honestly, I don’t think it matters who you really pray to because the Universe is always listening and interacting with us. Our goal is to understand and become part of that sacred dialogue.