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Author Topic: How to write a prayer...  (Read 11007 times)
Cliona
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« Topic Start: April 10, 2011, 12:45:08 am »

This is a very open-ended question, I realize there is no simple "how-to" answer, but I'm never one to turn away other peoples' insight.

How do you write a prayer?

As a bit of background, I need a bit of structure. Not in all aspects of life, but when it comes to my spirituality, I feel like everything's just SO BIG and thankfully my Deities are patient with me as I figure this out. (a very strange analogy comes to mind...<geek>my SO paid for a WoW account so I could play it with him and share that part of his life, and when I first started everything seemed so endless and open with no specific point and it drove me nuts. this is kind of the same way, without the "no specific point" bit; it's so endless and open and I'm so small)

I found a couple prayers written by others for Manannan, my patron, and I wrote them in a small little book that I keep with me throughout the day. I wrote a prayer for my cousin's baby when he was nearly dying from severe asthma, but it sort of felt like that wasn't completely my doing, it just sort of happened. What I want to do is write my prayers in this small little book so I have them with me, and I want them to be my own prayers, my own words to the God/desses, not always echoing someone else. (however pretty someone else's words might be...) I write creatively on the side and am definitely my harshest critic, I find everything wrong with every word I write, and it's the same with prayers when I try to write them. I can't shut off my inner editor-critic-snide-little-voice.

So instead of asking how I should write a prayer, I want to know how those of you that do, do it.

And if I have to sit here and flounder until I figure it out, that's fine. I floundered in WoW but have no out-leveled my SO by reaching level 80 before he did </geek now>, I'm pretty sure I'll eventually find a groove for prayer that works. I can almost hear Manannan chuckling that how I write prayers doesn't matter to Him; pretty sure He thinks it's silly that it matters to me.
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Aster Breo
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« Reply #1: April 10, 2011, 06:24:21 am »

So instead of asking how I should write a prayer, I want to know how those of you that do, do it.

I don't generally *write* prayers.  I usually simply talk to Brighid and say what's in my heart.

However, I know many people prefer a more formal or structured approach.  You might be interested in The Pagan Book of Prayer, by Ceisiwr Serith.  It includes pre-written prayers, but also includes good sections on different kinds of prayers (words, gestures, etc.) and on composing prayers.  The author's website also includes a large variety of prayers that you could use as models.

I know this isn't exactly the kind of reply you're looking for, but I hope it helps anyway.  Smiley

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« Reply #2: April 10, 2011, 07:05:59 am »

So instead of asking how I should write a prayer, I want to know how those of you that do, do it.

I like 1000 World Prayers by Marcus Braybrooke. It's given me some ideas for how I want to structure my prayers.

What works best for me are short prayers that repeat and build on simple words/themes. Anything too long and complex, even though I might like reading it, I find impossible to use for devotion because I start focusing on the words more than the praying.

These two aren't pagan specifically, but they're examples of the kind of stuff I like and model my prayers on:

Wherever I go, only Thou!
Wherever I stand, only Thou
Just Thou, again Thou!
always Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!
When things are good, Thou!
When things are bad, Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!

- Hasidic song

O God,
give me light in my heart
and light in my tongue
and light in my hearing
and light in my sight
and light in my feeling
and light in all body
and light before me
and light behind me.

- attributed to Muhammad
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« Reply #3: April 10, 2011, 07:16:33 am »


Oh, forgot to say: there was something I read once about Egyptian gods having specific epithets. I have my own epithets (eg, 'gracious', 'hidden', etc) and I find that if even if I pray spontaneously, like Aster Breo does, using those standard epithets gives a sense of structure and continuity.
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« Reply #4: May 04, 2011, 03:37:57 pm »

This is a very open-ended question, I realize there is no simple "how-to" answer, but I'm never one to turn away other peoples' insight.

How do you write a prayer?

As a bit of background, I need a bit of structure. Not in all aspects of life, but when it comes to my spirituality, I feel like everything's just SO BIG and thankfully my Deities are patient with me as I figure this out. (a very strange analogy comes to mind...<geek>my SO paid for a WoW account so I could play it with him and share that part of his life, and when I first started everything seemed so endless and open with no specific point and it drove me nuts. this is kind of the same way, without the "no specific point" bit; it's so endless and open and I'm so small)

I found a couple prayers written by others for Manannan, my patron, and I wrote them in a small little book that I keep with me throughout the day. I wrote a prayer for my cousin's baby when he was nearly dying from severe asthma, but it sort of felt like that wasn't completely my doing, it just sort of happened. What I want to do is write my prayers in this small little book so I have them with me, and I want them to be my own prayers, my own words to the God/desses, not always echoing someone else. (however pretty someone else's words might be...) I write creatively on the side and am definitely my harshest critic, I find everything wrong with every word I write, and it's the same with prayers when I try to write them. I can't shut off my inner editor-critic-snide-little-voice.

So instead of asking how I should write a prayer, I want to know how those of you that do, do it.

And if I have to sit here and flounder until I figure it out, that's fine. I floundered in WoW but have no out-leveled my SO by reaching level 80 before he did </geek now>, I'm pretty sure I'll eventually find a groove for prayer that works. I can almost hear Manannan chuckling that how I write prayers doesn't matter to Him; pretty sure He thinks it's silly that it matters to me.

I usually start by listing the deities' various epitheths and attributes and elaborate on that.... then I end with 'I honor You' Grin

Simple, but it works for me.

Later, i can or cannot converse more informally with the portrait of that deity at lenght.
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« Reply #5: May 04, 2011, 06:08:17 pm »

I don't generally *write* prayers.

Me neither. But I have written one, and I use it often; it's become a kind of mantra.

Techniques I used to write it--

--Rhyming lines helped make it memorable for me

--Borrow! There's a poem whose rhythm and refrain have been etched in my memory since adolescence; I decided to harness the potency it held for my psyche by very nearly replicating that rhythm and an aspect of the refrain, but using my own words to express my link to the divine

--Know your purpose. What exactly are you trying to say?

I'm afraid that's all the insight I can offer on this.
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« Reply #6: May 04, 2011, 11:04:02 pm »

How do you write a prayer?

I don't really write prayers, rather I write poetry as a prayer.   I just let my heart speak out to the Deities and hope they hear. Smiley

Also, I've taken to letter writing as a form of prayer similar to a poem, but more formal.
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« Reply #7: May 06, 2011, 12:48:55 am »

How do you write a prayer?

I have two methods.  The traditional Hellenic method and the less formal method I use personally.  The traditional Hellenic method follows several steps.  First you call apon whichever divinity you want help from.  This includes the use of epithets and retelling myths relevant to the task at hand.  Second, you say why they should help you.  Mostly done by reminding of precedent set by that time they helped you before, or they helped someone else do the same thing.  Then comes the actual request.  Usually finished with an offering.  Hellenic religion can be very transactional, the offering can take on a tone of bargaining.  "If you do x for me, I'll do y for you."  (Just make sure not to overextend yourself.  There are a lot of myths about retribution for broken promises.)

My personal method is extremely simplified.  It's expressed as an offertory set.  I pour out a sip of water (from my drinking supplies, so there is a deprivation element there) first for Hestia, for She is first and last.  Then I take a sip, sharing with them.  I continue alternating between offering sips to various divinities I think might have an interest in the matter at hand and taking sips for myself.  I end with offering "for Whomever else" and then Hesia last.  The sharing is half based on tradition.  A shared meal was a common thing, but it didn't have the same amount of offering context that I use.  Also not tradition is offering to a variety all at once.
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« Reply #8: May 16, 2011, 09:47:10 am »

How do you write a prayer?

This topic is of interest to me, too. I once wrote a simple rhyming prayer/song to Brigid and for a while would sing it before I prayed to Her, but my liking for it diminished and nowadays I generally just sing the Hymn to Brigid by Isaac Bonewits. But I'd be interested in writing others, especially for Brigid as I believe a composition of my own words would be an appropriate offering for Her.

You might be interested in The Pagan Book of Prayer, by Ceisiwr Serith.  It includes pre-written prayers, but also includes good sections on different kinds of prayers (words, gestures, etc.) and on composing prayers.

Adding this to my reading list!

These two aren't pagan specifically, but they're examples of the kind of stuff I like and model my prayers on:

Wherever I go, only Thou!
Wherever I stand, only Thou
Just Thou, again Thou!
always Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!
When things are good, Thou!
When things are bad, Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!

- Hasidic song

O God,
give me light in my heart
and light in my tongue
and light in my hearing
and light in my sight
and light in my feeling
and light in all body
and light before me
and light behind me.

- attributed to Muhammad

These are absolutely beautiful! Though it begs another question, what do you guys think about appropriating prayers from other religions for pagan purposes? I could see these particular prayers easily crossing over, but is it an appropriate thing to do? Would it be disrespectful to address prayers intended for the Jewish God or the Muslim God to other Gods?
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« Reply #9: May 16, 2011, 02:28:51 pm »

These are absolutely beautiful! Though it begs another question, what do you guys think about appropriating prayers from other religions for pagan purposes? I could see these particular prayers easily crossing over, but is it an appropriate thing to do? Would it be disrespectful to address prayers intended for the Jewish God or the Muslim God to other Gods?

Personally, I have mixed feelings on this. Depending on the attitude one brings to the new use of the prayer, I think this could work in one's private worship. I'd be circumspect about using it in a public setting, however, since it could lead to confusion, one's intentions could be misunderstood, and one leaves oneself open to charges of misappropriation.
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« Reply #10: May 16, 2011, 03:41:26 pm »

Hi, Otter,

We generally discourage quoting multiple people in the same post, because the discussion is easier to follow (and easier for the mods to know who said what, if conflicts arise) if every quote includes the code that tracks back to the post being quoted.  I've fixed your post so that those codes are included, because this is a short thread and it was pretty easy to figure out where each quote had come from, but in future, we'd rather you made each of your replies in a separate post (unlike some forums, we have no objections to people making several posts in a row) so that the quote codes are retained.

This isn't a formal warning, just a clarification.  No reply is necessary, but if you have questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact a member of staff privately.

Thanks!

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« Reply #11: May 16, 2011, 04:19:33 pm »

I read something that first you have to think about your family, then yourself and then gods - is it true, yeah?
And another one, I think about going into one religion and that is asatru. Do I need to write prayers to them and when yes then how?
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« Reply #12: May 16, 2011, 07:00:41 pm »

I read something that first you have to think about your family, then yourself and then gods - is it true, yeah?
And another one, I think about going into one religion and that is asatru. Do I need to write prayers to them and when yes then how?
Hi, madfox95,

Just a quick note:  Please remember to quote, even if you're just replying to the first message in the thread.  It makes the discussion easier to follow, and it's required by our rules.

This isn't a formal warning, just a reminder.  No reply is necessary, but if you have questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact a member of staff privately.

Thanks!

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« Reply #13: May 17, 2011, 07:29:44 pm »


These are absolutely beautiful! Though it begs another question, what do you guys think about appropriating prayers from other religions for pagan purposes? I could see these particular prayers easily crossing over, but is it an appropriate thing to do? Would it be disrespectful to address prayers intended for the Jewish God or the Muslim God to other Gods?

I remember my mom once told me to say the Hail Mary, so I changed it to the Hail Loki and changed everything appropriately (although I couldn't say "fruit of thy womb Sleipnir" without laughing). She didn't seem all that offended (she's Catholic) but she's pretty laid back about such things. I can imagine some of her friends taking offense to it, however. Of course, it's not something I would say around anyone else. I used it as a prayer once, but it's not really my style.

Plus, I'd rather come up with something on my own. It may not be elegant or have any kind of flow to it, but I don't think it matters so much. As long as it's sincere, I think it's good.
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« Reply #14: June 04, 2011, 03:24:23 pm »

I remember my mom once told me to say the Hail Mary, so I changed it to the Hail Loki and changed everything appropriately (although I couldn't say "fruit of thy womb Sleipnir" without laughing). She didn't seem all that offended (she's Catholic) but she's pretty laid back about such things. I can imagine some of her friends taking offense to it, however. Of course, it's not something I would say around anyone else. I used it as a prayer once, but it's not really my style.

Plus, I'd rather come up with something on my own. It may not be elegant or have any kind of flow to it, but I don't think it matters so much. As long as it's sincere, I think it's good.

most ones I write come in a few forms:
specific to a certain spell or request,in which case they aren't very poetic but get the job done.

otherwise they are more like poems,they happen for me after a lot of time using prefab ones I found and I feel something working it's way to the surface in me to write down.

my biggest problem is in writing concrete endings/finishes,I'm never happy with them.

one I wrote just recently:

hekate,ancient goddess of time untold

goddess of earth,sea and sky
              
you who hold the keys 

to life,death and the witches mysteries

shining maiden,hold your torch high
                        
twilight queen ,heralded by hounds

your guidance and power,on the edges to be found

watching over us,into and out of life
                          
great goddess of witches ways
                        
come,I ask of thee

be present in my work this night

watch over me,reside,preside

and guide my hand

lead me not astray
      
let the stars and all the seas
    
hear what i have to say.

hekate ,hekate,hekate

come,be at my side

hekate hekate hekate

your child is waiting 

faithful forever

this light,a torch, for you.

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