Friday, April 27, 2012

Egyptian view on prayer and ritual requests

I thought we would take a moment to talk about a subject I am often asked. How did Egyptians use prayer and how did they approach it?

The first thing is that Egyptians didn't ask for things when they prayed or performed a ritual. The belief was that if the right offering was given, the right words were spoken and the right name used that the deity would feel compelled to answer. This was more the idea of respect. I will try to put it into more modern terms.

Say you wanted to borrow your mother's favorite earrings. Instead of  asking outright you do the dishes, fold the laundry, compliment her on how beautiful she looks, make her lunch and then comment about how beautiful those earrings would look with your prom dress hoping she will get the hint and lend them to you.

This is sort of how the Egyptians viewed prayer and ritual. The god or goddess was not directly asked but was honored with respect. Then when the time came the person praying would state something to the effect of... "Wow it would be nice if the harvest would be better this year." From there, the Egyptian praying or performing the ritual would have strong belief that those things performed in honor such as providing offerings, devotionals, complimenting the god or goddess and so on would win them the favor to have their desires met.

There is an additional Egyptian belief that if the practitioner has been proper in their delivery of the prayer or ritual that the god would be compelled by honor to give a gift to the person who was praying. This belief does not guarantee the practitioner will get what they ask for but it does show that some blessing will come from the work. If we go back to the farmer asking for a better harvest this year. Maybe the harvest wouldn't be better but fewer crocodiles would be in the fields or maybe his ducks would produce more ducklings or maybe the price of his produce would increase so he made more money. Blessings come in all manners but there was a precedent that the god would give that which would be most helpful, which is not always what we ask for.

Nefertari offering to Isis

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