Do You Pray?

PrayerRheumatoid Arthritis Guy is in a pensive mood today, and finds himself wondering more about the thoughts of others than his own thoughts. (No, this is not one of those “what are other people going to think about me?” moments.)

I really am curious about what others who live with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases think about a certain topic, which has been on my mind a lot recently.

So here goes. Do you pray? (And by prayer, I am referring to all forms of prayer, from religious to spiritual to energy-based.) If so, what do you pray for, in regards to the illness with which you live?

Do you pray for the pain to go away? Do you pray that you will learn to accept and live with the pain? Do you pray for continued strength? Do you pray for the progression of your illness to slow down? Do you pray for remission? Do you pray for your illness to go away completely? Do you pray that a cure for these diseases will be found during our lifetime?

To be honest, I don’t really pray myself (which might be obvious by the questions that I just asked). I do meditate, but during these sessions I generally tend to free my mind of thoughts. My understanding of prayer is that one focuses their mind on certain thoughts and wishes, which seems to be the opposite of what I do when I meditate.

A while back, I was asked if I hope that a cure for rheumatoid arthritis might be found in my lifetime. My answer was that no, I do not hope for such a thing. I was not trying to be dismissive or cruel…the fact of the matter was that this thought really does not often cross my mind.

But since then, I’ve been wondering: Should I hope for this cure?

And with this questions comes a larger question: Should I start incorporating prayer – in whatever form that I find comfortable – into my life? Obviously, I consider the presence of this question on my mind as a strong indicator of the direction that I need move in.

I just don’t know where to start.

So while I am asking a very personal question, I would appreciate any feedback that others may have on this topic. It just might help me clarify some of the thoughts and questions that continue to bounce around in my head, and allow me to take that next step forward.

Thank you in advance for any support that you might be able to provide.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

28 Comments
28 comments
  1. cateepoo says:

    Good question. I don’t pray in the traditional sense (to a god) but each morning and night I spend time thanking my body for everything it does – on bad days I concentrate on the joints that hurt the most because I know they gave a lot. I thank the world for the children I have, the husband I have, the home I have and for all my family and friends. I never concentrate on being completely free from RA, but instead focusing on the good changes that are happening to my body. I guess rather than praying, I concentrate on being thankful for all that I already have. I also spend time during the day sending my thoughts out to all my RA friends that could use extra thoughts that day. I believe we are all connected and our thoughts or prayers do make changes.

  2. lauraf says:

    Ironically, I was thinking about prayer when I read your previous blog about going forward steps and always taking a step back. There is a early Christian dance called the Tripudium. “The step [which can be traced to ancient Rome] involved three steps forward and one step backward, and was used in ring dances, line dances and processionals. It came to signify man’s humility – ‘I go forward, yet I falter’ – and was an act of reverence. It is the basis for genuflection still used in Christian worship.”-Marilyn Daniels, History of Dance

    I took sacred dance in college, and we would do this dance and I always felt it fit my story literally. My pain made me physically step back, that my RA was strong within me, but I always pulled forward.

    In response to your questions. I am always changing what I am praying for/about. There are big and little picture things. I don’t pray specifically for a cure or total remission anymore, it seems wasteful, I have other needs first. But, I always pray for peace of mind as well as for my joints. It is tough to accept this life for every minute of it. I have also found dancing to be my purest form of prayer. I hope that helps clarify some of your thoughts. Give the tripudium a try.

  3. Lana says:

    I guess the answer depends on how you pray and who you pray to. I have accepted the pain, but I pray for acceptance, guidance, and continued strength. I pray for better days. I don’t pray for remission or a cure because quite frankly, I honestly don’t believe that those things will happen. I am not very religious, but I believe in God’s existence and his guidance so I pray. I have always believed that God is the biggest power you can turn to if you fight yourself alone. With RA, I have felt that loneliness so I turned to God. Granted, I have my husband, my children, siblings, nephews and nieces, etc., but I am alone when it comes to RA. Like Cathy, I also use prayer to remind myself of all the blessings in my life.

  4. Millicent says:

    Prayer has always been a part of my life. For me it’s like a talk with a wise friend,to whom I can express any thought I may have. During this latest bout with breast cancer, I have prayed for strength & healing: strength to face each challenge connected with the surgery & now the recovery; healing from within as well as from without. I incorporate prayer into my meditation, breathing in strength & healing, breathing out worry & stress.

  5. Lisa H. says:

    I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot recently myself. This is what I most often pray for: the ability to get through the truly necessary tasks, the vision to see what tasks are the most important, the willingness to stretch a little further every day (metaphorically as well as physically), at least a little bit of peace & comfort, and to be able be the person God needs me to be, not just the person who gives up because she’s in pain all the time. That’s about it for recurrent personal prayers. Of course there are always the other needs that I have & family/friends/organizations/etc that need prayer. I hadn’t thought about it until this week, but I have a prayer ongoing all day long. I don’t sit down & say “this is when I pray” like my husband does. Rather, I pray as I think about what needs prayer: in the car, with a friend, as I see needy kids at my kids school, in the moment of downtime before switching tasks.

  6. Sara says:

    I don’t pray, but I do meditate. Many times, meditation is more of what you describe- trying not to attach to thoughts, recognizing them and then letting them go, trying to clear out my brain. But, sometimes, particularly if I am going through something, during meditation or at the start and end of my yoga practice, I focus on a certain intention, thought or feeling. Maybe it’s a kind of ambiguous prayer, but for me it feels important. Usually, that intention relates to trying to accept what is around me and to be open. Like you, I don’t think much about a cure, though, just about what I can do in my present situation.

  7. MissDazey says:

    The most powerful prayer is living ones life in thankfulness with positive thoughts towards oneself and all others, 24/7. I learned many years ago to bless others and be a blessing in my actions. I am also blessed. Prayer is not always asking but also releasing negative thoughts and being thankful.

    I love the idea of the dances lauraf described.

    MissDaisy
    PS: I practice a quiet faith.

  8. Helen says:

    I pray, but oddly enough, I have never prayed about my illness. I don’t ask for a cure, for acceptance, or for the pain to decrease. It’s never crossed my mind to do so. As a child, I used to daydream about a miracle cure, but I don’t even think about that anymore.

    I do try to focus on my body when I exercise, whether it’s walking, doing yoga, working out on a machine or simply stretching. I think about my body as a healthy, beautiful thing – even when I’m in pain. I think about what it CAN do. I suppose that is a sort of prayer.

  9. CRK says:

    I do not believe in religion, but I do believe in a higher being and I believe absolutely in the power of prayer (it’s one of the very few things in my life that is unequivocal). I don’t pray often (or ask others to pray for me). To me, it’s like the boy who cried wolf. (I more often try to remember to say quick prayers of gratitude for the miracles and blessings that come my way without asking.) But when I do pray for myself, I most often pray to have the strength to take the path I’ve been given. I’ve found myself in dire circumstances before, and there were times that I didn’t think that life was worth living. But having been through those times, I’ve come to have faith that life may not be easy, and the path may be painful, but that I will get through it.

    As far as RA, I ask for the strength and the patience to deal with whatever this disease has in store for me. I am realistic enough to believe that a cure won’t be found in time for me, so I don’t pray for that. Rather, I see RA as a burden I have to bear — one that will continually grow heavier as time goes on. I simply ask for the strength and the tools (wisdom, medication, patience) to live my life as best as I can while carrying this burden.

    I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone but me, but I am hopeful that it provides the insight that you were looking for.

  10. RA Fire Guy says:

    I tend to pray for patience, understanding, and humility. Others may not agree with my thoughts or beliefs, but there is a reason I have this disease. I do not view it as punishment. I know the answer will present itself in time. Right now I am thinking it was because God saw me as being too powerful and feared I may take over the world some day. Of course I am joking…but I do believe it will give me purpose and direction. As an outsider looking in…what you have done with this website has brought comfort, relief, understanding, and so much more to people like me. It might have been someone had a plan for you too. So to answer your question: I do pray. I pray for patience, understanding, and humility. Of course the occasional million dollar request might not hurt either…lol.

  11. Barbarella says:

    “Do you pray for the pain to go away? Do you pray that you will learn to accept and live with the pain? Do you pray for continued strength? Do you pray for the progression of your illness to slow down? Do you pray for remission? Do you pray for your illness to go away completely? Do you pray that a cure for these diseases will be found during our lifetime?”

    ALL THE TIME, matey. All the time. Just not to any God, but to my own inner strength to get me through this.

  12. Wren says:

    I’m not a believer in a god. I don’t pray. I believe the will to cope with RA and other challenges in life come from within each one of us, and may even be part of our inborn “survival instinct.”

    This is not to say that I’m not spiritual, or that I disdain those who are. No – in fact, I’m always amazed and inspired by the different methods we use for coping and keeping on. For one person, it’s praying to a god for strength, or asking that god to take away the challenge. Both are methods of coping; they calm the mind and foster hope for change. For another person, it’s looking within themselves for strength, and again, hope. And for yet another, it’s a matter of selective attention, focusing on the gifts and offering thanks for those, rather than focusing on the problems we all face, in one form or another. To my mind, this is also a form of hope in the face of despair.

    I’m of the latter type, frankly. This world is full of gifts, if we just look for them. RA is a daily painful challenge, and there are times when it gets me down. But then there are those other moments — like seeing a fairy ring of mushrooms in a lawn, or being surrounded by tiny chirping birds in the shrubbery — that transform the mundane into the magical. It’s a matter of opening the eyes and the mind, and curving the lips into a smile rather than a frown. Simplistic? Maybe. But it works for me.

  13. marianne hoynes says:

    As a Quaker, meditation and prayer go hand in hand. Meditation is about quieting the mind, being at peace, and then allowing God to fill that space.

    Having said that, I find myself praying in many different ways throughout the day. I like what Millicent said, about prayer being like “a talk with a wise friend”.

    If I am overwhelmed or in pain, and every moment feels difficult to get through, I focus on the blessings I have been given. Gratitude is usually more powerful than depression, sadness or fear. It doesnt take the pain away, but it calms down that adrenalin that comes with severe pain, so I get through it better.

    My husband and I do this in our marriage as well. When he came home from work the week before our wedding last year, and told me he lost his job, he was so upset. We sat on the couch and listed all of the things we had, and all that we are grateful for. It is a powerful thing. That took away all of his fear, and he was able to rally enjoy that time in our lives.

    As time goes on, between my medical bills and trying to live on his unemployment, we find ourselves praying like this a lot more. Fear can be like a runaway train. Gratitude is strengthening to our relationship, and brings peace to our lives.

    I am very strong in the faith I was raised in. My husband is not a religious person, though it is God who he is thanking. Realizing how much we are blessed, even during hard times, brings him as much comfort as it brings to me.

    I never pray for a cure. I pray that God will help me get through what I am going through. I pray that I will learn a new strength about myself, that I will learn to love my body, even in illness and pain. And I always pray for my husband and my marriage, because together we are stronger than if we are apart.

  14. andrew says:

    Great question. I believe in the single God who created everything. And that includes our bodies (albeit in a broken state…especially with RA!). In his love, God desires to restore us completely; either now or in the future. So I pray for all sorts of things including grace to make it through a day, perspective to see things correctly, help to not fall into self-pity, for healing, etc. Prayer is simply communication with God and that can take many forms.

  15. Mallen says:

    I am a Christian and I try to have an attitude of prayer everyday. Christ taught us not to have worries in this life. I don’t tend to pray for future things as much (praying for a cure or remission). I try to pray mostly for this day, help me get through today and be able to do the things I need to do today. I pray for others as well. I do not beat my beliefs on people, I try to live in peace with everyone around me and let my life speak for me.

    Hoping for painfree days for you.

  16. Terry says:

    I believe in God, and I pray, however not about my RA, remission or a cure for it (I like several others don’t expect to see a cure). I have a lot of blessings and am thankful for each and every one of them in my life so I tend not to whine or dwell on the one bad thing going on in my life.

  17. Laurie says:

    I don’t belong to any religion, but I do believe in God. My prayers are more thanks, gratitude, asking for enlightenment, guidance and understanding. Like Mallen, I tend not to pray for specific things, just for help in coping.

  18. raandme says:

    I dont pray or meditate or do anything that is even remotely spiritual.

    One of my favorite quotes is by Jean Paul Sartre.
    He says ” That God does not exist, I can not deny. That my whole being cries out for God, I cannot forget.”

    I think that just about sums up my views. For me, there is no higher power. And in alot of ways, I find it much easier to cope with chronic illness without the pressure, guilt, and doubt that I suffered from when I was more religious.

    But I think every one of our souls cry out for God. In every step of pain and in every moment of suffering brought on by this disease. And so, even though there is no doubt for me personally, I can understand the comfort in a higher being hearing our pleas to ease our pain.

    I just personally believe that any improvements in your life are up to you. I find much more comfort in that.

  19. RA Guy says:

    MissDazey, I am in complete agreement with you. My most sincere thanks goes out to everyone who took the time to respond with a comment today.

    Although I probably shouldn’t be, I am surprised with the wide variety of answers that were shared. I think it just goes to show that prayer can be whatever I want it to be in my life, and that I need not strive for some idealized version, that in the end may not work well for me. I can instead have it be whatever I need it to be, and what works for me.

    I also like the connection between meditation and prayer that was pointed out by a couple of people, this has made me think a lot about my meditation and yoga practice in general.

    Last but not least, thanks for providing details on where you focus your hopes. I thought I was in the minority when it came to not hoping for a cure. I guess it comes down to where we concentrate our efforts, and what carries us through each new day!

  20. Kali says:

    I’m far more spiritual than I am religious, and I tend to believe in a very capricious higher being.

    I suppose there are two things I do that you could consider prayer.

    The first is almost more of a meditation – I center myself and relax, and focus on feeling the energy of the earth. I remind myself that I am connected to and part of this greater whole, this system of energy. I let myself remember that as the seasons cycle, so too do I – sometimes fading, sometimes renewing, always changing.

    The second is more…in times of great need, I suppose I pray to get through it. I rarely ask for something more specific than that. If I need to get through the pain, through the semester, through an exam, through a deep emotional upset, through one MORE health problem…so on… I just ask for that, to get through it.

    ~Kali
    http://www.brilliantmindbrokenbody.wordpress.com

  21. RA Mom says:

    What great “food for thought”! To me, prayer is many things. It can be lengthy (as reciting the rosary) or brief (as when awakening my first thought is, “Thank you Lord for this new day.”) What do I pray for?–that, too, differs…I don’t always pray for something; sometimes it’s simply, “Thank you Lord for all Your blessings.” I always feel that I have a ‘direct line’ to God and can speak to Him about anything from wherever I am. Because of this, I never feel that I am alone…even at times when I was in a big city by myself, not knowing another single soul there–which can be a scary thing if it’s the first time you’ve done that. I remember when my Grandmothers used to tell me that they prayed for all their children & grandchildren on a daily basis–at that time I was young and this concept was foreign to me. Now I have become that Grandmother that prays for all her children & grandchildren on a daily basis! My husband & I have attended Pre-Lent classes/studies for several weeks the last few years and I recall that one of the things shared was that the older we get the more we pray. The Sister that shared this thought said she believed that it might have something to be with our preparation for dying. Prayer has sustained me during the most trying times of my life–it is what has helped me to keep going when things seemed hopeless. I do believe in Miracles…and as such have on occasions prayed for the impossible, because I believe that all is possible through God.

    A new concept–that I learned about in our Pre-Lent classes, was that of CENTERING PRAYER. The individual behind the movement of Centering Prayer is Father/Dr. Thomas Keeting. The concept behind Centering Prayer is to strive for COMPLETE SILENCE to allow the Holy Spirit to enter oneself–to push out any single thought from your mind during this time. Father Keeting says/believes that we are the closest with God in complete silence…we don’t have to verbally communicate with Him anything that He does not already know…JUST BE WITH GOD IN SILENCE AND STILLNESS AND LET GOD BE GOD IN YOU. At first this sounded like something really easy to do–until I tried to do it! It is not easy to push every single thought from your mind and just sit in silence–because as soon as you push one thought from your mind another one enters…it takes lots & lots of practice to even achieve even a few minutes successfully. I understand that a Center, specifically for Centering Prayer opened up in San Antonio (Texas).

    I am glad to have had the opportunity to share my thoughts on this subject.

    RA Guy’s Mom

  22. Linda Mooney says:

    What a wonderful thought provoking blog you have posted. We are all so very diverse in our beliefs or non-beliefs. It’s amazing!

    Each day as I head out the door to work, I ask for the strength, the ability, and the fortitude to make it through yet another wonderful day. Who could not ask for that?

    And as far as a cure. Sure I hope that there is a cure for this chronic disease in the future, I doubt that it will be in mine, but I would not want anyone to have to suffer as we have, and those that suffered before us, wanted better drugs as well.

    Type A personalities are what we are!

  23. Amanda says:

    Normally I try to avoid all conversations of prayer and religion because I think that it’s such a personal thing and something that people get very worked up about as far as differing opinions. I will say that I go back and forth between being very religious and very spiritual. i tend to be more religious when I’m going through a tough time and very spiritual at all times. What someone told me once that has really stuck with me was that prayer is more for us than it necessarily is for God. That God has a plan for us and when things don’t work out according to our plan, that we talk to him through prayer to help us accept and understand His plan. Do I feel His presence when things are going well? Yes. Do I feel His presence when things aren’t? Yes. So, that was pretty profound to me. Just my two cents, hope it isn’t preachy!!!

  24. kate says:

    I think this question is such an interesting one. For me personally I meditate in the mornings with my dog by my side, I sit and I stretch, I roll my shoulders and listen to them ripple and I take deep breaths. I then think about what joint is in flare up mood and I think positive that as the day progresses so will my flare up. I try to channel my thought into feeling “in charge.” And that empowers me to feel stronger, if not physically at least mentally.
    Keep Feeling Strong!
    kate.

  25. RA Mom says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading through each and everyone’s comments regarding this subject matter…

    MissDazey, I’m in complete agreement with you!

    Amanda, I particularly enjoyed your comments because I, too, believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us–but my thoughts have been that when a prayer isn’t answered it’s because it is not in God’s plan for us. What you shared about what someone once told you–that prayer is more for us than it necessarily is for God–makes a lot of sense, because isn’t it prayer that has gotten me through some of my worse times?!

    RA Guy’s Mom

  26. Emma says:

    When i pray i like to ask that all of the pain and suffering i go through not all be in vain, i ask that it be used as an opportunity to help myself grow. Through my pain i learn how to sympathize with others and coping methods. All the while with each day of pain, i have a new story to share with others about my own personal experiences with RA.

    One of my greatest wishes is that i be able to use all that i have learnt from my journey through life with RA to help help someone else with their journey :)

  27. Roslyn says:

    I do pray but not for the pain to go away. I know my medications do help at times but when they don’t then I pray and thank God that I am the one suffering from RA, not my precious children or grandchildren. I pray to thank God for giving me moments of respite, no matter how short they are and when the pain gets too back, I think of my years swimming, running, gardening like mad, doing up my house myself, caring for my mum when she became ill for her last five years, my healthy children and grandchildren, the love of my dogs, their wet noses rubbing against my face as they lick my tears and I know that as I deteriorate, God did not give me RA. He cannot take it away from me if my belief helps me keep a smile on when with others. I don’t know if this helps but it sure helps me xxx

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