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How To Pray Effectively


Penny Cohen, LCSW

Last year there was an article in the New York Times Magazine section by Zev Chafets titled “Is there a right way to Pray?”


I don’t know if there is a right or wrong way to pray.  But I do know an effective way to pray.  To pray effectively first we have to determine what prayer is and to whom or what we are praying and then what we desire to pray for.


If we look at the traditional Abrahamic Judaic/Christian/Muslim traditions prayers involve repetitive phrases, melodies, and songs stating there is a God – a merciful, loving God.  They involve summoning, petitioning and thanking God.  They also may include some body movements of pounding on the chest, making the sign of the cross, knee bending, and bowing.  Often they are said in daily rituals at certain times of the day and in specific ways. 


Contemporary secular spiritual teachers use many different words for Divine presence.  They might call it the universe, light, love, oneness, Higher Power, vortex, flow.  These all carry the connotations of a force of energy of light, love and wisdom that we can align with and flow from. These are all words for God – but a God of love – a guiding organizing design incorporating a flow of love.


To align with and flow from source we first have to become an open channel to source.  That means we meditate first to reach a state of peace within.  To talk to God or a source of energy that we communicate with we have to affirm God or whatever you may call this essence of love and wisdom into our lives.  After opening to and affirming source, we command and demand what we desire – and I use the word desire rather than want since want is a need and desire is a choice.  In the scriptures as mentioned above there are biblical phrases, prayers, and songs to constantly be recited about praising God, and saying how wonderful and amazing God is.  We can do that regarding love, wisdom, understanding, etc.  This is a way of asserting and acknowledging God or the sources of energy we wish to derive in our lives.


As in what we think we attract, if we constantly state that we believe in God, and the type of God we desire to believe in, we will attract the God we believe in – and hopefully it’s a God of love and creativity rather than reward and punishment.


I came to this realization a long time ago after reading Og Mandino’s book The Greatest Miracle In The World in which his prescription for happiness is to recite every day for 100 days phrases that I abbreviated:  “I believe, I make the right choices, I count my blessings, I have faith, I go the extra mile, I am unique, I have patience and I love:  I love myself, others and God.” It was approximately 100 days thereafter that I had a spontaneous spiritual experience.


From that time on I’ve learned to pray by meditating first, opening to light and love, express gratitude for it and in that state think, see, feel, touch, taste what I desire.  And, for the most part I get it – if it’s for my highest and best good, which I always add at the end of my prayer:  “This or something better for the highest and best for the good of all.”  It’s a much easier, more wonderful and way to live.




I invite you to practice effective prayer.  Think about the God of love, state there is a God of love, feel the love, be grateful for that love, and then petition this God by asking for what you desire – and do it with all your heart, soul, and might and at the end add, “This or something better for the highest and best for the good of all.”


Keeping in touch and in love,



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