Wow! Thanks. Help. These are the Three Essential Prayers, according to author Anne Lamott. What I learned in my church-going experience backs that up: there are prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude; of praise, awe, and adoration; and of petitions and requests. To Lamott’s top three, I would also add prayers of forgiveness—a simple I’m sorry or Forgive me.
These are just the basics of course. Some go even further, refining prayers, and accompanying rituals, into ever specific categories. For example, Edward Hays has prayers for Fingernail Trimming, Lighting Candles and Writing a Difficult Letter. Actually we can pray for just about anything.
Yet to get the whole self into the process of prayer, we need to invite the senses too. Incense is one of the most ancient ways to invoke the power of smell, as it is able to stir up memories and create moods and shape attitudes. As Hays says, “…Scents can return us to our childhood faster than the speed of light.” Indeed. For me the smell of pasta boiling in a stovetop pot transports me to the kitchen of my Italian-influenced childhood home.
The queen of all ceremonial cleansing scents is Sage. Ceremonial sage comes in many forms: in smudging sticks large and small; in loose leaf clusters, in sticks and even in sprays. It can come straight by itself or blended with other fragrant herbs or plants, such as lavender, rosemary or cedar.
One of the uses of this noble incense is for preparing sacred space for ceremony and prayers by cleansing your space with its smoldering smoke or sensuous spray. Prayers offered during the cleansing ritual can consist of words elaborate or short, rhyming or prose and they can be memorized or spontaneous from the heart and soul.
Sometimes a rhyming verse makes a prayer easy to remember. It seems that rhyming stays with us. For example, one short prayer goes like this:
Cleanse this space, remove the past
I’ve found my happiness at last.
Fill this space with Joy and love
Send Your Blessings from Above.
Negativity of this my sacred space
I banish you by the light of my grace
You have no hold or power here
I stand and face you with no fear
Be gone forever you will obey
From my sacred space you must away.
God of All, Goddess of Light,
Shield & Protect Me Day & Night
Positive Feeling Alone Come Near,
All Others Wither & Disappear.
Into this smoke I release
All energies that do not serve;
All negativity that surrounds;
And all fears that limit.
I cleanse my sacred space now as I prepare for ceremony and prayer”