Category Archives: The Prayer Files

All about praying.

The Loving-kindness Prayer

May loving-kindness abound.

Image via Mystic Awakening.

I’m not very good at loving-kindness. Not when loving-kindness starts with me. Oh, I can love anybody else with ease. Even people who probably don’t deserve it. I’m just full of love and forgiveness for other people. But I get down on myself like nobody’s business. The meanest thing anybody’s ever said to me can’t hold a candle to the meanest things I’ve said to myself. One time in a meditation class, the teacher tried to guide us through a loving-kindness meditation by Sharon Salzberg. I got frustrated and a little upset when she was guiding us to offer loving-kindness to the entire universe, and I still hadn’t been able to dredge up a scrap for myself. It was a bit like falling behind in math class – once you’ve missed that many interim steps, it’s not easy to get caught up.

So how do you have a relationship with the Divine when your relationship with yourself is so terrible? It seems to me that’s a good reason for practicing loving-kindness, a branch of Buddhist meditation that involves cherishing all living beings, including oneself. Okay, sure. I can cherish pretty much every other living thing. Maybe I’ll have a little problem with spiders, but I can work on that.

The problem is that, when it comes to making friends with myself, I don’t really know where to begin.

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The Words To Pray

Lately I’ve been feeling the impulse to pray – sometimes just at random or when I learn of someone else’s misfortune and want to send good wishes for them into the universe, and sometimes as a way to get through some of the more difficult moments of my daily life. I close my eyes, focus my thoughts, and search for the words that will put me in touch with the divine.

That’s when I run into a bit of a problem. All the prayers I know are Catholic.

Catholic woman praying.

Image via Loyola Press.

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Prayers to Give Thanks

"Florence Cope Saying Grace at Dinnertime" by Charles Cope (1811-90).

"Florence Cope Saying Grace at Dinnertime". Image via Superstock.

I was always the “prayer girl” in my family.

In addition to being the person everybody called on to pray in a time of crisis, I was the one who recited Grace Before Meals at our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners – or, alternatively, composed a special prayer or read one I pasted to the back of a paper plate decorated to look like a turkey when I was seven. (It looks nothing like an actual turkey, which is really quite an ugly animal.)

To honour that history, I’ve collected a few Thanksgiving prayers that really speak to me this Thanksgiving. It’s been a bitter few weeks, and at a casual glance it might seem like there’s not too much to be grateful for – lousy economy, tight financial straits, and way too much drama getting in the way of my continued sanity. But I found that just reading these prayers, just thinking about them, made me feel a little more blessed . . . and that made my problems look a little less overwhelming.

Let me know if you use any of these favourites for your own Thanksgiving celebrations!

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