Turn the page on a terrible, divisive 2020 with prayer—even if you don’t normally pray and you don’t know who to pray to.
While my ancestral roots are all securely tied to Judaism, I was raised outside of all established religions. My mother, originally from Hungary, grew up only casually observant, but my father came from a devout Hassidic community in Poland where everyone’s life centered around a sincere and constant devotion to God.
Rather than this being a source of solace for my father, he spent his childhood in fear of an omniscient, almighty male figure who monitored and judged every human thought and action, doling out punishments for sins. When he immigrated to America after WWII, he was relieved to leave behind the strict Jewish traditions of his youth.
Growing up, our family never celebrated the Jewish holidays or went to temple. My parents were avid explorers of the many New Age spiritual practices and healing modalities flourishing in New York City in the 1960s and ’70s. As an adult, I embraced Soto Zen Buddhism, where the concept of God was never mentioned. My direct experience of the Divine has always felt like a connection to an energetic life-force rather than a relationship with a particular celestial being.
So why then, as 2021 quickly approaches, do I suddenly feel compelled to pray? And if I move forward to honor this heartfelt urge, whom exactly should I be praying to?
I took this question to Hilary Nicholls, a powerful energy healer with a strong connection to spirit, who shared that when we don’t participate in the traditions passed down to us from our ancestors, it’s easy to feel lost in the external world. When we are moved to pray, she explained, we’re being called from deep within to heal wounds of separation and to reestablish a connection with the guiding, benevolent source energies always present in our hearts. “A desire to pray is a desire for wholeness—to remember who we truly are.”
With my heart aching from the vast suffering and terrible divisiveness of 2020, perhaps the urge to remember who I am is also the urge to remember who everyone is—to feel the essential unity of all human beings, regardless of passionate, entrenched beliefs or perennial conflicts.
Hilary recommends beginning and ending prayers with a focus on gratitude. For the New Year, which marks Earth’s complete orbit around the sun, she suggests beginning with appreciation for the star that gives us life.
“Our earth’s life force is represented by the sun that gives us warmth and coaxes everything to grow. It also coaxes us to grow towards the light of who we are, our full potential, which is our hope for humanity in the New Year.”
To set a prayerful intention for the future, we need optimism and hope. So part of the purpose of our prayer should be to let go of pessimism arising from the past. True upliftment comes from connection with source and from the spark of inspiration. Once we gain inspiration, we can open to the possibilities of a healthier, happier future, and put our unique gifts to use creating solutions as we embody the qualities of healing and harmony so necessary right now.
“Attention and focus are like portals,” Hilary says, “lifting our eyes to the horizon with a prayer helps us embody optimism for our future. When we raise our vibration to match the solutions we need, we move away from energies that bring us down, including feelings of separation, victimhood, and limitation. Using prayer to focus on beauty and possibilities lifts us up.”
With the intention of fostering connection, optimism, gratitude, and goodness, here is a prayer to welcome in 2021.
A Prayer to Welcome in the New Year
As I stand upon the Earth with the light of the New Year dawning,
I lift my face to welcome the rising sun
grateful for the constancy of its radiant warmth that coaxes everything to grow.
I pray for a loving connection with all of creation,
remembering that I share the sun’s infinite light with all living beings.
I pray to honor and release last year’s sorrows,
to let go of separation and condemnation,
to have faith in the essential goodness of all beings.
I pray to always live with an awareness of my original infinite nature,
in gratitude for the abundance and beauty the Earth graciously bestows.
In this New Year, and forever more, to walk forward in love toward the light.
Go deeper into prayer by reading “Breath as Prayer.”