30-Day Religious Meme Day 7 ~ Beliefs – The power of prayer/reciprocity

This day’s entry is one that would be familiar to just about anyone with a religious bent. It is about the power of prayer and reciprocity in our lives. Prayer is how we speak to the Gods and reciprocity is how we interact with the Gods through our actions and theirs in our lives. These would seem to be simple concepts but they are probably some of the most written about things in all of religious life.

Our relationship with the Gods is defined by the concept of reciprocity. Although they do not need our prayers and offerings, they appreciate them. And this appreciation takes the form of a back and forth between humanity and the divine — in other words, reciprocity.  This is not a new concept in that since ancient times we have known about the concept. This is evidenced by the prayer found towards the beginning of the Iliad where the priest of Apollo requests that if ever he has made acceptable offering to the god that Apollo avenge the loss of his daughter. Apollo then sends a plague on the Greek army in an act of reciprocity. This does not mean that our prayers will always be answered in such a dramatic way, and in fact, most of the time they are not. Sometimes, the way that the prayers have been answered is not something immediately obvious, but the reciprocity still exists.

Prayer is powerful, there is no denying. The main reason is that it changes how WE are thinking as we address the Gods. Prayer is the way that we praise, thank, and request things of the Gods and it is the first two that give prayer its power as a force in our lives. If we always ask things of someone and never say thank you to them then over a period of time we will find that they no longer answer favorably. The gods are not different, even if they are more patient with us than we are with other people. If we do not appreciate the gifts they give, eventually they stop giving them. The Christian Lord’s Prayer is a good example of this way of looking at it. First there is praise for the divine, THEN the request for the ‘daily bread’. The praise comes first of all and the thanks for the gifts we have been given. It is only after the thanks that we should consider making any requests of the God we are addressing.

I could probably go on for much longer about the subject of prayer in our lives, but I think it is best that we all think about it on our own.

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