The Power of a Family Prayer Group
At last weekends couple's retreat in South Africa my wife and I gave couples different tools to help their marriages, and also different ways of thinking about themselves and their problems. One of my topics was family or couple's prayer. The subject of prayers groups I feel "passionately" about—i.e, strongly, intensely--since I have first hand experience of its power. Here is one way to think about prayer which might help you see it differently.
Everything in existence is energy--even science tells us that--though as followers of Bhagavad-gita we understand that there is the spiritual energy behind matter. The material world is called in the Gita's 7th chapter, Krishna's separated energy. Then this one energy as a whole is broken down into what we might call specific material energies of earth, water, fire, air, ether (or space), and the subtle energies of mind, intelligence and false ego, which is animated by the soul and God.
Matter can also be broken down according to the modes or qualities of nature [gunas] in terms of the energies of human emotions like the energy of lust, anger, greed, envy, love, compassion, kindness etc. Depending on a person's state of consciousness and interpretation of events they attract certain emotions which will color or impact their personal energy (their energy field or aura)and may dominate their lives at certain times--either degrading the soul beginning her attachments (see BG 2.62-63), or elevating the soul by devotion to Krishna (bg 18.57-58 for example). This is important for couples to understand, because they have to see each other as devotees, and in their best self in goodness, not as their negative mind states like anger, lust etc--and each person has to act in such a way to bring out their partners best self. If a couple is not in harmony with each other, it will be reflected in their combined energy, and will permeate their life, family and home, and their children will be negatively effected.
So prayer or focused thought directed to the Supreme Spirit or God--who we know as Krishna--has the power to change energy fields, health or relationships—for the better or worse. Before we moved to our current State of North Carolina, we lived near a Temple, which unfortunately experienced much discord internally and with the surrounding devotee community.
As a healer and studier of metaphysical principles I know the power of directed thought and prayer, and I decided that although I couldn’t really be directly involved at the Temple [as I had tried to be a Temple manager before], the best thing I could do was to send focused prayer to help the situation by trying to counteract the criticism or negative energy which was being “thrown” or projected at the Temple and its leaders from certain members of the community. In Kali-yuga there are always difficulties and differences of opinion, and it is so easy to quarrel over tiny, even unimportant matters. Everyone tends to think their view is the right one, and only others are wrong.
What we focus on gains in power or expands in our own life and in various situations we encounter. Think in terms of energy fields or auras as I mentioned. When we criticize someone or some place—like a home or religious institution—especially with strong emotion, that focused thought sends that person or place negative energy. This can be something like a curse--either for the person with such thoughts, the object of their criticism or hatred--or both, though depending on the spiritual power and purity of the person or place, it will be variously affected. In general, the result is discord and disharmony--either the person criticizing or the person being criticized--creating a downward spiral of energy, or an energy drain. This is one reason we must always try to have the best relationships with others as possible, and seek first to understand their perspective, before trying to be understood. No relationship difficulty is one sided. As I titled an old blog, "It Takes Two to Tango--or Tangle". It is also a spiritual principle that whatever we give out to others, we will eventually be on the receiving end of--in this life or the next, and during our life review at death.
Negative activities in a home, place of worship or in a certain area have an “negative energy imprint” in proportion to what went on there. For example a place where many people were killed like a battlefield has a huge negative imprint, which has to be purified. This is also true in the positive or spiritual side. A holy place of pilgrimage has the energy of the lila that occurred, and of the saintly persons or other persons who reside there.
Knowing this fact I began a prayer group where we began to pray for the Temple and its inhabitants, as well as for each other. Although I can’t attest to the situation at the Temple improving [though it didn't get any worse] I can say that for myself and the devotees in our prayer group we became much happier and felt that we had created a real community of caring devotees. It is amazing how close we became by just meeting once a week, sharing our lives, and praying for each other.
Although we are encouraged to mainly or solely pray for pure devotional service, if truth be told, at various times in our life--say as married devotees with young families--this may not be where we are at on the feeling level. In that case we can also find quotes that if we have any desire to be fulfilled we should approach the Supreme Lord and not any deva (demigod etc). In any case in our prayer group we certainly prayed for spiritual advancement, but we also prayed for our family concerns and human difficulties. It felt good to be honest to our gurus and Krishna [not just cutting a profile], and to feel they cared and were involved in our ordinary concerns as we practiced Krishna Consciousness or Bhakti-yoga. Praying is one of my favorite Krishna conscious activities, since I feel more connected to Radha/Krishna, Gaura/Nitai, and Prabhupada and my various gurus as well as the previous acharyas. And that act of praying for others puts us in our best possible state of mind.
Here are some helpful quotes by Shrila Prabhupada: "In addition to giving and receiving, in the execution of devotional service one has to submit to Krsna whatever distress or confidential problem he has." Raja Vidya 2: Knowledge Beyond Samsara and also: "Thus it is said that if we pray to the Supreme Lord in every transaction of our material existence, everything will be done very nicely and just suitable to our heart's desire. In other words, in all circumstances we must take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and depend completely on His decision. Man proposes, God disposes. The fulfillment of desires, therefore, should be entrusted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; that is the nicest solution." SB 3.21.28
Most of us have heard the saying, "The family that prays together, stays together". In terms of a couple or a family, praying together for one another, puts each person in their core material self, or their best conditioned self in the mode of goodness, which is closer to the soul. When we are praying for someone or even our self, we feel we are more in touch with our love, compassion and giving nature, and best hopes and wishes for the “pray-ee”. We feel closer to Krishna, and it is really a kind of surrender of dependence on him, as we are seeking his help in our life and those we care about. Sometimes we just empty our heart out, and pray that Krishna destroy our anarthas (unwanted ways of thinking and acting) and help us come to him.
It is certainly essential for the family to do sadhana or spiritual activities like japa, kirtana and reading scripture together; yet praying with one another for each other is also very powerful, since it brings everything to a very personal level. Praying for someone just plain feels good, and hearing someone you love praying for you is also very endearing. From the perspective of energy fields, when we pray together our energy fields are in harmony. We feel more for each other, and it helps us center everything in our life around Krishna.
This is a summary of the ideas for couples and families praying for each other I presented at "Couples Weekend" in South Africa. I will be sharing more of my trip in the days to come. It is good to be back online at Krishna.com, and I wish you all the best for the New Year.