At least that is what I thought. In actuality I continued to pray, but rather than a shopping list of thanks and needs - I let my feelings do my talking for me. I would say to God, "You know what is in my heart so take that as my gift and that will be my prayer for today." That kind of stuck with me even though when I left the church I stopped calling it prayer.
I switched my focus to gratitude and study and quiet. I've had a block about the word prayer for a long time now - my relationship with Christianity and all mainstream faiths is complicated to say the least and the language of those faiths left a bad taste in mouth. Words like God, faith, prayer all had a lot of baggage for me.
Thanks to my journey into OA and the reading I've done over the last few years that baggage is being slowly cast aside. I can reclaim the word prayer and redefine what it means to me. Right now I'm reading the wonderful book by Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self and something he talked about really struck me yesterday. The word contemplation has got me really rethinking and redefining my concept of prayer.
In the good periods of my life when I'm spiritually connected to the Universe, I always tried to spend a few minutes in quiet, preferable outdoors. I'd sit in the sun on my glider, on my deck and just close my eyes and BE. I'm beginning to realize that this is prayer. My preconceived notions of prayer are about making noise and then taking time to listen. But it was always about words for me - words to God and words back from God that I thought I heard in my heart. Now prayer is about feelings, intuition, love. There is definitely a place for words in my prayer practice - I try to recite the Serenity Prayer every day at least once (now that I'm back on my path and not wandering in the dark of the forest), but I now try to focus on how those words make me feel - to try to find the serenity behind the prayer rather than just make noise with the words.
I think the reality is that there are as many ways to pray as there are people on this Earth. I can not define what prayer is for anyone else - I can only define what it is for me. Contemplation, feelings, sometimes words, Shamanic Journeying are all prayer for ME. And that's okay. How I pray isn't as important as just taking the time to pray.
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.