Praying the Yamas
I love using prayer models to broaden my prayer life and sharpen my focus during prayer and so can you. For example, I’ve prayed an ACTS prayer, which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, many times. Doing so profoundly transformed my understanding of praise and radically deepen my relationship with God.
So, this evening I decided to try praying my way through the yamas which are five ethical yogic principles. I’m anticipating that using these five principles as a prayer structure will have at least three benefits:
- Elevate my awareness and understanding of the yamas so that I’m conduct myself more ethically.
- Provide a template for self-reflection and confession on my own behavior.
- Prompt me to repent and live a life that more fully honors God.
So here’s my effort at a yama inspired prayer. I’ve embedded the names and descriptors of each yama before each prayer sections associated with them. Tell me what you think:
Ahimsa – Nonviolence.
Heavenly Father, I bow before you in adoration and pray that I have a heart of mercy. I pray this because I desire my heart to be free of anger and resentment so that I will neither speak or act in ways that harm others. I confess that many times I see the fault in others, while ignoring my own sins. I fixate on the speck in their eye and chose to be blissfully unaware of the plank in my eye. Forgive me and help me to understand in my heart that at the foot of the cross, my sins are no less than theirs. Christ died as much for my sins as theirs. I have no right to stand in judgment or feel anger over the wrongs they commit even when they are directed at me. Fill my heart with grace and mercy so I can meet their mistreatment of me with love rather than retaliation. Make me an instrument of your peace.
Satya – Truthfulness
God by the power of your Holy Spirit season each word that comes from my mouth with truth. When I exaggerate to exalt myself, humble my words. When I spin a conversation to misdirect people from my failures or wrong doing, help me to be forthright. When I evade a question or pivot rather than speak what I believe will be unflattering to me or not to my advantage, again, help me to be forthright. Also, Lord when I see injustice or witness dishonesty, give me the courage to speak the truth boldly.
Help me also Lord to recognize the lies that I tell myself. For example Lord, when I am hesitant to give because I fear I won’t have enough, bring to mind the truth that your grace is sufficient for me, so that I embody that truth. In fact, emblazon each of your promises upon my heart and mind so that those truths guide my life. So that, I live as a person fully convinced of the truth of your promises. If I live in fear, Oh Lord, I live in a lie. If I live in anything but faithfulness I live in a lie. Help me Lord to fully live in the promise that you have given me a spirit of power, and love and self-control. If I live in anyway that denies this truth, then I am dishonest in my conduct.
Your Son, is the way, the truth, and the life. May his presence in my life be reflected in my behavior so others will come to know the ultimate truth. That you love us so much that you gave your son that we might have eternal life.
Asteya – Non-stealing
God, I can’t honestly think of times when I physically take things from other people. However, there are other ways we can steal. We can take credit for that which is not our own. In particular, one of the worst ways we can do this is to take credit for blessings in our lives that come from you. When we do this, we are stealing your glory. We are stealing your praise. Help me God to recognize that all that I have both seen and unseen I have only because you have given me these blessings.
Brahmacharya – Moderation
Most Holy God, I lack balance in several areas of my life. I am prone to excessive use of technology. I can get lost in Facebook or binge watching television all too easily. This excessiveness, results in lack of sleep. Then, the next day I am dragging, unproductive, and make poor decisions. This is true in other areas as well, when I binge on cravings then I eat to excess or eat foods that are harmful to my body. Again this excess creates imbalance in my life that leads to sin.
May I live into the spirit of self-discipline that you have gifted me with through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that I might temper my appetites. May my decisions be dictated by godly wisdom rather than appeasing yearnings, cravings, and impulses.
Lord, may I practice moderation in my possessions of material goods as well. I pray that I do not horde or excessively accumulate possessions, at the neglect of caring for those around me. Grant me wisdom to recognize what is necessary and what is excessive, so I do not clutter my life with possessions that distract my time and attention from your kingdom.
Aparigraha – Non attachment, Relinquishment
Lord, I pray that the only thing I would cling to in life is you. Again, your grace is sufficient for me. Not only do I desire to be free of cling to materials possessions, but also Lord I want to surrender to your will. All too often I have expectations that I grip tightly. Doing so can result in unnecessary disappointment and resentment. May I trust you everyday for what I need both seen and unseen, neither clinging to the past or fretting about the future.
Jesus told the disciples that if any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will have his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Heavenly Father, I let go of my life and submit to you. I cling only to you and humbly ask that you reveal the cross to me that I am to take up this day. I pray that I will have the self-awareness to let go of anything that becomes an obstacle from carrying my cross and following only you.
Lastly God, I give you thanks that Jesus is the embodiment of all these things I only need look to him to understand the Yamas. May he be my vision for life guiding me each step of the way that I might give glory, praise, and honor to you. In Christ Holy Name I pray these things. Amen.
Fellow yogis please share your thoughts regarding praying in this way. I suspect each of you have interpretations of the Yamas that could enrich what I’ve done here. I would love to hear those.
Rev. John Arnold
The Yoga Pastor
PS: Please share this post with other christian yogis and feel free to invite them to our group. I would love to broaden this circle of kingdom yogis.