‘Let’s have a prayer meeting, and specifically bless…’.
I have to admit, as much as I value prayer in my life, and believe that I should pray more, and believe that prayer and blessing others is effective and beneficial, even necessary, those words used to strike horror into my heart.
When those words were uttered, I would be put in the unenviable position of wanting to attend the meeting and show willing, but resisting it, in equal measure.
You see, at that time, having been a member of a faith-group for so many years, prayer conjured up: a few people who would take turns to pray (and sometimes I just didn’t want to pray out loud at the time it got to my ‘turn’, and then there would be an awkward silence), and it would take place in a dusty vestry office (and, oh boy, could you smell the dust from yesteryear; ever so ‘musty’), and it would feel so contrived, and therefore so unspontaneous, and lifeless.
Does blessing and praying have to be so unimaginative? Does it have to resemble a shopping list? Does it have to be so….well, boring?
Can’t we vary it, God? Just a little?
I apologise if anyone reading this likes the abovementioned style of prayer meetings, but I have to confess, it just didn’t do anything for me (and still doesn’t). I do believe that even those times were beneficial (because of intentionality), but I just wanted prayer to be a little more lively, to be living and vital, meaningful and, yes, even ‘fun’!
Dear God, why can’t I use my imagination, my body when it comes to blessing, praying?
‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.’ Luke 12:27, The Book.[‘Consider’ non-italicised by me, for emphasis].
And, so, in my own time, in my own way, I experimented with prayer and blessings for specific purposes in an innovative and imaginative way.
One of these prayer and/or blessing adaptations was the Caim (and variations on it): see here.
Another was ‘Huh’ blessing (or praying), which follows.
If you can breathe in and out, you can do this! It’s another spiritual ‘tool’ you might like to use.
I am indebted to several (Celtic) Christian, Druid and Buddhist friends, over the years, for their encouragement and suggestions along the way about this style of breath or ‘Huh’ blessings and praying. This type of prayer can also be incorporated in the middle segment of the Caim prayer.
However, the outline below is a ‘stand alone’ version of the ‘Huh’ blessing or prayer:.
Step 1: Preparation: In a quiet space – somewhere where you won’t be disturbed – sit, relax. I usually light a candle and place it in a safe place near by, so candlelight is the only light available. A tea light (whose base is wider than it is high) is safe (and even then I place it in a ‘lipped’ saucer-like tray and ensure that that is on a coaster of some sort. Call me safety conscious.
I’ve prepared the room. Artificial light is ‘off’, and one candle is lit. I’m sitting comfortably.
Though I believe there is no boundary between the sacred and profane (however those words are defined), I know that I benefit from this simple ritual as a way of, seemingly, entering this time and place as ‘sacred time’ and ‘sacred space’. It’s symbolic.
It becomes ‘time-between-time’.
Then, close your eyes. I try to face in the direction of the person or location I’m about to pray for, to bless (though you don’t have to). Slow your breathing (but still keep it natural – we don’t want you passing out!) And, calm your thoughts as best you can, by relaxing, ‘surrendering’. No resistance. Just relax. If thoughts come, then just let them go. Don’t analyse them. Let them go. Relax and enjoy time in (apparent) sacred-space, and with the Presence.
Sometimes, if thoughts are ‘racing’, I might gently, inwardly, say one word to myself eg love, peace etc to ‘centre’ myself, and then, after a few minutes, even let that word-thought go. I’m relaxed, now. I’m surrounded by the Presence.
I like to invoke the name of the Deity, once at the beginning of the session, and so will start with a short and simple prayer, to set the scene. And, that’s what I’ve just done, as a reminder that the Deity is at work here, and not me.
Step 2: Intentionality: In your mind’s eye think of something or someone you want to bless and/or pray about. It can be a local, national or international event, it can be people and places devastated by a natural disaster, or war, or think of the homeless, those without food etc. Or you can think a person known to you who is suffering, or all people similarly suffering with that ailment. Or you can think of the plight of animals, the natural world, where intervention is needed etc. And then picture it in your mind’s eye. Really imagine it.
I like to imagine myself and the candle, and parts of the room (eg table) that might be lit up (as if for one minute, I’m observing myself), and then I like to imagine the recipient of the blessing or prayer. I’ve just done that.
Right now, I’m thinking of a friend who is not well and suffering with some kind of lung problem, and is some 800 miles away, but in my mind’s eye he is just a few years/metres away.
Step 3: Breathe In: And then, as you breathe in, imagine that you are breathing in that area’s plight or that person’s anguish, pain, discomfort or ailment etc etc. Inwardly (or verbally) you might like to ‘name’ that negativity in one word. Breathe it in, in one ‘controlled’, slow, meaningful, unlaboured breath.
I breathe in, slowly, and utter one word, once, to sum up the plight of this friend. It’s a lung problem, and so after breathing in, I verbalise the word ‘lung’. In a symbolic way it is ‘asking’ for the removal of that ailment, in this case. I then breath slowly (in/out) for a short while (seconds or minutes, its up to you) before moving on.
Step 4: Breathe Out: And then, as you breathe out, imagine the ‘answer’ to that areas plight or that person’s predicament being met. Again, breathe out in one ‘controlled’, slow, meaningful, intentional, unlaboured out-breath. And, as you breathe out you might want to ‘name’ the answer, or blessing (for that is what it is) being sent from you to them in your mind or out loud.
I usually like to precede that one-word verbalisation with an emphatic (but not too loud), slightly extended ‘Huh’ sound, coming deep from within my lungs to show intentionality. I like to imagine that breath-prayer ‘winging’ its way to that area or person, like a ‘bubble-blessing of goodness’. Druid and other friends will have their own ‘theology’. As a believer of the Way, I perceive this blessing as coming from God’s storehouse of goodness.
I breathe out slowly with a ‘huh’ breath, followed by the word ‘healing’, in this case (and okay that might be two exhalations, but who’s counting), and I imagine, in this case, healing going out to this friend.
In my imagination I ‘see’ this exhalation as a green bubble-blessing wafting towards this friend, and moving through their chest to their lungs, in this case. I utter the word ‘healing’, for that is my prayer/blessing to them.
It takes no time at all for the blessing to reach him.
I then breath slowly (in/out) for a short while (seconds or minutes, its up to you), before moving on.
Step 5: And Repeat: It’s then a case of repeating Steps 3 and 4 several times in a slow, relaxed, unhurried way. I try to pray like this, overall, for at least 15-20 minutes. If you feel it can be, or should be shorter (or longer) in your circumstances, then that’s just fine. Experiment.
Step 6: End: At the end of the session, you leave ‘sacred time/space’, and you may wish to close with a prayer of gratitude to the Deity. As you end this session, again, don’t rush, but take several minutes before opening your eyes (and extinguishing that candle).
Having concluded the blessing/prayer, I say a simple prayer of gratitude.
And, I rest. I wait. There is no hurry.
I’m enjoying the Divine embrace. Why don’t you try it?
And then, after a few minutes I begin to ‘stir’, open my eyes, blow the candle flame out (- always safety conscious), and wait just a few more minutes.
I feel as though I’ve had an intercessory role in this prayer/blessing. And, it feels that way, because I believe I (and you) have!
Conclusion: In all of this, do not make it a chore. Don’t do it unthinkingly. Don’t rush it. Relax. Be imaginative. Take your time.
It may sound complicated, but it’s like driving a car, in one sense. Initially, you dwell on each step, but eventually you slip effortlessly into the next step.
Intentionality is important, so don’t worry about getting it right, or worry if you got some of it wrong.
Having used the shopping-list prayer and blessing formula for years, I like this imaginative variation, as another way, a one more useful ‘tool’ amongst many of praying for, or blessing others. Try it!
And, yes, you can enjoy this type of session, and enjoy basking in the Presence.