Like A Prayer

Life Is A Mystery

It Isn't The Process Of Prayer That’s The Problem, It’s The Way It’s Framed

Like A Prayer. It Isn't The Process Of Prayer That’s The Problem, It’s The Way It’s Framed. Distorted picture of woman in tears praying.

Like A Prayer - The Song

The Madonna song "Like A Prayer" was released exactly 30 years ago this week, at time of writing, and it achieved 3 interconnected objectives:

  1. It caused major controversy [especially within the Roman Catholic church]
  2. It became a major commercial success
  3. It boosted her career after the critical and commercial failure of her last 2 film projects

Madonna described "Like A Prayer" as about a passionate young girl "so in love with God that it is almost as though He were the male figure in her life."

    Life is a mystery
    Everyone must stand alone
    I hear you call my name
    And it feels like home
    When you call my name it's like a little prayer


Why Don't We Like A Prayer?

Regardless of what we feel about Madonna or her song the topic of prayer often arouses strong reactions.

Usually, it is something that we associate with organised religion and for most of us this is not on our current radar.

It is also seen by many of us as a sign of weakness or desperation to resort to prayer. We live in a culture of self sufficiency. We are very much a "do-it-yourself" people.

Unless you have been through a recovery programme of one kind or another, turning to prayer as a last resort is seen and felt as a desperate sign of pathetic weakness.

Why I didn't like a prayer

For me prayer has associations with my childhood and the strict and obsessive religious environment in which I was raised.

I have many memories of the unnatural sounding language and the formulaic repetitions.

The overall sense it conveyed to me was of good big God up there and bad little me, and all the other despicable miserable sinners, down here.

The way these prayers were structured it always gave me the impression that unless you spoke in the right "code" - which had to include lots of biblical references - then God couldn't or wouldn't hear let alone respond.

These days I can find a beauty and a meaning in the structured litany and liturgy of the Anglican Church in the Christian tradition, and the vows, invocations and expressions of gratitude and compassion of Buddhism.

But in my early adult life I rejected it all and determined to find my own way.

    Over a period of few years I came to realise that it wasn't the process of prayer that was the problem it was the way it was framed, and the context within which it was framed.

When Is A Prayer Not Like A Prayer?

The modern origins of the word prayer come from the medieval French word "preiere" or "prière" which means to make an intense request, or an appeal to a higher authority about a specific matter.

The french words were based on the Latin "precaria", "precarius" or "precari" all of which have modern meanings "to petition", to be "given as a favour" or "to ask, beg or make an intense request".

In all interpretations, from an etymological perspective, it means that:

    The position of the person who is praying is that of a subordinate or supplicant asking a higher authority or power - traditionally God - for something.


For the modern person who is not a practitioner or devotee of a faith tradition this framing of prayer does not resonate and likely provokes the adverse reactions I referred to above.

Framing is all about the words we use to describes things and the feeling those words evoke within us.

So if you change your language you change how you feel about the thing that your words describe.

Reframing "PRAYER" as "COMMUNION"

I propose that we reframe the word Prayer with the word Communion as the noun, and the word Communing as the verb.

The word Communion comes from the medieval French word "comunion" meaning "participation in something"; "that which is common to all"; and "fellowship, mutual participation, a sharing".

This in turn is derived from the Latin "com" meaning "with or together" and "unus" meaning "oneness or union".

So when is a prayer not like a prayer?

When it's a communion.

    We move from prayer as a subordinate or supplicant asking a higher authority, a higher power, or God for something, to a communion.


What Is The Context Of Communion?

I have found it helpful to approach this outside of the context of any specific faith tradition. But if you are in a faith tradition that's fine and we are not in argument.

Before I move to directly address the context of communion I would like to direct you to an earlier article on "Living With Your Thoughts" where I proposed a simple model for understanding and developing a good working relationship with your mind and then a section on understanding your selves.

In this article and elsewhere I describe the higher self as your hardwired portal to the universe and everything "out there" - of Consciousness – or The Energy Of Life or the dimension of spirituality.

This context is important because communion with the different levels of your mind and between your many selves unites them together in a oneness that is Consciousness.

This reframed understanding of prayer is expansive and holistic.

Ok, now to address the question:

I see communion as a communing with the various elements or levels of your Consciousness.

Many of the practices shared on this site involve that process:

It also includes communing with the natural world in all of its multitude of various and wonderful manifestations.

One of the most powerful ways of communing with Consciousness is just to be present.

    Communion is communing with Consciousness - in ALL its manifestations.

How to Commune?

As with any close human relationship sometimes a companionable silence is sufficient.

Other times when you feel the need to say something, share something or ask something - just do it and simply direct your communication to that part of Consciousness you want to address.

This maybe "within yourself" as outlined in some of practices above, or you may want to commune with Consciousness "out there" but either way there is no set formula, there are no magic words, just do it!

You don't have to use the "god word" if it bothers you, just talk to "my higher self" - or you don't need a word at all to name Consciousness just do it.

As with all good human communication between friends, the best communication is spontaneous, authentic and spoken from the heart.

I appreciate that to some readers this may all sound rather odd - but all I can say is that the intentional communication with as much of Consciousness as you are aware of is a deeply enriching and transformative approach to living, and eventually you will find that:

    The life well lived is like a prayer.

Next Article: Fear Of Missing Out - "I'll Have What She's Having!"

Return from "Like A Prayer" to: Walking The Talk

Contact me

English Chinese (Traditional) Russian French German Italian Spanish Vietnamese


  1. The Transformative Power Of Acceptance

    Experience The Power Of Acceptance. This website contains about 500,000 words. You could read every single word and it wouldn't make any real difference to you. You might become better informed, but t…

    Read More

  2. Inversion - The Power Of Opposite Thinking

    How To Avoid The Unwanted Outcome. The power of opposite thinking, also known as inversion, lies in its ability to stimulate creativity, enhance problem-solving, and provide a fresh perspective on cha…

    Read More

  3. Are You Aligned With Reality? Or Do You See What You Believe?

    We tend to see that which aligns with what we believe, and to act upon that rather than acting on reality. Being aligned with reality starts with a clear and accurate understanding of the world. It me…

    Read More

  4. The Law Of Response and Outcome

    A New Approach To A New Life At time of writing we are entering a new year which is traditionally a time of making resolutions to change our behaviour and improve the quality of our lives. And yet pow…

    Read More

  5. Clear Thinking - Turning Ordinary Moments Into Extraordinary Results

    There are two ways to handle the world - try to predict, or try to prepare. "Clear Thinking" by Shane Parrish, published in Oct 2023, is a laudable testament to the art of cogent thinking, and will be…

    Read More

  6. Self Dialogue - Working With Your Many Selves

    Self Dialogue Is About Working With ALL Levels Of Your Mind. The key to effective self dialogue is to have tools, techniques and resources that work with all levels of your mind. This simple self-faci…

    Read More

  7. The Balanced Brain - The Ultimate Route To Personal Transformation

    How To Experience The Benefits Of A Balanced Brain. Underpinning all of the belief systems and practices that offer routes to personal change, transformation and spiritual growth is the balanced brain…

    Read More

  8. How To Make Better Decisions - By Avoiding The Narrative Trap

    To Understand The Truth We Have To See The Whole Picture. One of the best ways to make better decisions is to have a deeper understanding of the many things that might stop that happening. To understa…

    Read More

  9. The Greatest Love - The Most Important Relationship You Will Ever Have

    Yet Most Will Never Know It Everyone of us has a place, in our hearts there's a space, that is home to the greatest love of all. This love transcends everything we think we know about the world of for…

    Read More

  10. Everything Is Connected And Why You Don't Feel It

    ...And Why It Matters As human beings we are skating on very thin ice with our sense of self and certainty about "how things are" and what we like to think of as reality:

    - What if everything we think…

    Read More

  11. Who Is In Charge Of Your Brain?

    How Not To Be Stupid. Who is in charge of your brain? This is not a silly questions. It matters because the outcomes that you experience in your life are determined by how you respond to the events th…

    Read More

  12. How To Be A Winner On A Very Large Scale

    The Incredible Benefits Of Selective Attention. This is not a typical article about how to be a winner. We are not going to talk about goal setting, the importance of habits, the power of focus and al…

    Read More

  13. The Metagame Approach To Life

    How To Achieve Your Biggest Objectives. The metagame approach to life is all about winning and achieving your biggest objectives by: - Understanding the bigger picture
    - Being better by doing things d…

    Read More

  14. Shantideva - The Way Of The Bodhisattva

    Walking The Path Of Compassion. Shantideva the 8th century Indian Buddhist sage is famous for his treatise "The Way of the Bodhisattva" delivered as an extended teaching to the monks of Nalanda monast…

    Read More

  15. Reframing History - Deconstruction And Discussion Not Destruction

    History is always about context, not imposing our own moral values on the past. For those of us fortunate enough to live within western democracies, we are living in an age where a vociferous and into…

    Read More

  16. Tao Te Ching - Connecting To Your True Source Of Power.

    How To Be Lived By The Tao. The Tao Te Ching is one of those books that many people read, few understand, and even fewer put into practice. The only way to know the Tao is to experience it, and it is…

    Read More

  17. How Things Really Are - The Inbuilt Design Flaws

    Chaos, Disorder And Decay Is The Natural Order Of Things. Nobody has the perfect life. We all struggle and strive to attain health, wealth and personal happiness. Yet these three big areas: our health…

    Read More

  18. Intuition Or Anxiety - Are There Angels Or Devils Crawling Here?

    How To Tell The Difference Between Intuition and Anxiety. How do you know whether the voice of your intuition is real or just the product of your inner anxiety? Several months ago I was having a drink…

    Read More

  19. What Is Truth - How To Tell A Partial Truth From The Whole Truth?

    How the truth and nothing but the truth is often not the whole truth. My great aunty Flo broke her arm and died. It is true that she broke her arm in 1923. It is also true that she died in 1949. But t…

    Read More

  20. Duality And Life Beyond Your Thinking Mind

    Duality and life beyond your thinking mind focuses on the limitations of time, foreground and background, duality and "stuckness". The first aspect of duality and life beyond your thinking mind focuse…

    Read More

  21. The Conscious Mind Is Limited - Be Aware And Be Prepared

    Being aware is the first stage of being prepared. The conscious mind is limited in so many ways. There are some who would argue that there is no such thing as conscious thought and that it is represen…

    Read More

  22. Your Inner Map Of Reality - Here's Why You Think The Way You Do

    The big picture of how your inner map of reality creates your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. Your inner map of reality is based on the filters of your own ethnic, national, social, family and rel…

    Read More

  23. The Failure Of Cancel Culture - Suppression Not Engagement

    Why we need to wear our beliefs lightly and develop negative capability. Throughout history people have campaigned to fight beliefs, ideologies, and injustices that they perceived to be oppressive, di…

    Read More

  24. 4 Big Reasons Why We Get Stuck In Our Attempts At Personal Change

    Most People Spend Their Entire Life Imprisoned Within The Confines Of Their Own Thoughts. This first of the 4 big reasons why we get stuck is, in my view, the most important. The "self-help industry…

    Read More

  25. How Do I Change And Why Is It So Hard?

    We Would Rather Die Than Change, And We Usually Do In my experience, the vast majority of people who say they want to change don’t change. Most people reading this won’t change because they don’t real…

    Read More

  26. The Illusion Of A Separate Self - Windows 11 With Self Awareness!

    Beyond the content of your mind you are so much more than you think you are. When we talk of "myself" this is the conventional way of referring to our self image which is in fact the ego's constructio…

    Read More

  27. Finite And Infinite Games - Dazed, Confused & Ultimately Transcendent

    This is not an instruction manual, it is a wake up call! Over this past week I have read Professor James Carse's highly regarded "Finite And Infinite Games - A Vision Of Life As Play And Possibility"

    Read More

  28. The Gap And The Gain - How Your Brain Sabotages Your Happiness

    How Your Lizard Brain Sabotages Your Happiness We are hardwired to measure our progress in any and all areas of life where we have goals and aspirations. We can't not do it. But what we measure and ho…

    Read More

  29. How To Wake Up - 4 Simple Practices To Help You Wake Up Now

    So What Exactly Does It Mean to Wake Up - What Is "Enlightenment"? There is nothing magical, mystical or mysterious about waking up we’re actually having glimpses of enlightenment all the time. Enligh…

    Read More

  30. Situational Communication - Different Strokes For Different Folks

    Situational communication is about taking account of 3 often ignored factors about the other person. You are a situational communicator when you recognise that effective communication is not an event…

    Read More

Get new posts by email:


Support This Site