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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Tilley

Prayer is your natural state. Authentic prayer embraces the truth of your connection to the divine.


Introduction


Prayer is and remains the native and

deepest impulse of the soul of man.

Thomas Carlyle


In some form or another, prayer is found everywhere. It is recorded in every history and among all people groups across the planet. From the Vikings of the Netherlands to Cherokee Indians of the Great Plains to the Hindus of India; as long as we have been communicating with one another, we have been trying to communicate with a higher power. Even Homer’s epic poem, "The Iliad," is opened with prayer to the gods for assistance and communion.

This fact has caused some atheists and philosophers a bit of discomfort. But have no fear, they simply explain away prayer as just another religious ritual left over from the days when we feared the dark and worshiped the sun and the trees. Sigmund Freud, the famous psychoanalyst who brought us the subconscious and the ego, believed that religion was filled with “petty ceremonials” and he made strong comparisons between prayer and neurotic behavior. Basically, he was not a fan of talking to God.


In March 1907 at the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society, Freud presented a

paper entitled “Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices.” In the article, he said obsessive people do not know the real reasons why they do what they do. They don’t understand why they repeatedly wash, why they avoid certain foods, and people who talk to God do not really know why they pray. He claimed that when someone feels the need to pray, it is more likely a deeper issue of guilt rather than a yearning for a relationship with their Creator. I, as well as much of human history, would disagree.


In the early days of human existence, humanity was more open to spiritual things. Everything was scary and new. Fear of the unknown often drove us to try to understand the world around us and this led many of us to pray to whatever was willing to listen. Though fear provokes prayer as its natural response, I do not believe it is based in fear, I believe our need to pray is innate. Those who believe prayer is a reaction to fear or the unknown often “see” a correlation between the decline of religiosity and the advent of technology and all our early attempts at science. This causes us to not value prayer more but to blame technology for religion’s collapse. The problem is, the answer is not that simple.


* for a complete list of references, please refer to the original text: "Authentic Faith"

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