The Four Directions Prayer
A Native American Gathering Prayer
The Four Directions Prayer song derives from the Native American Inipi (sweat lodge) Ceremony. The song is gathering prayer invoking Woniya Wakan (The Holy Spirit) to come and be present among us when we pray together. In the son, prayers are offered to the four directions recognizing the omnipotence of Tunkasila (God) and all His wondrous creation. The prayer reflects its derivation from the Book of Zechariah where Tunkasila comes to us from the four directions. “Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these my Lord?” The angel answered me, “These are the four winds of heaven going out, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.” Zechariah 6:4-5
The Smudging ceremony is used for purification and blessing those who are gathered to pray. We recognize all as one when we join the circle and ask the Father to bless us and all of our loved ones. The rising smoke represents all the prayers ascending to God. The correct response to the smoke is to pull the smoke over oneself with the hands. If this gesture feels uncomfortable, then stand in a prayerful manner and pray for God to send forth his Spirit to unite as one people.
“These are the four winds of heaven going out, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.”
The sacred plants: sage, sweet grass and flat cedar were given to the Lakota for prayer. When we pray in this way, using these elements, the sacred smoke cleanses us and removes any negative thoughts or feelings and we pray that our hearts and minds will be united through our prayers. This ritual represents a sign of love and respect for all people, placed in our hearts by Woniya Wakan. This ritual is for purification but also gives strength, wholeness and greater harmony in one’s life.
The fragrant smoke rising up and spreading out is a visible sign of our prayers going up the Creator and the love of God enveloping all his children. It is also a sign of God sending down his blessings upon all those present. This ceremony gives all honor and glory to God for his blessings and love for us.
The fanning of the smoke is done with an eagle feather or an eagle fan made from the wing of an eagle. The eagle is considered the most sacred bird among the Lakota because it is the strongest of the winged creatures and flies the highest and closest to the Creator among all the birds and takes our prayers to Tunkasila.
With the Lakota, all prayers are concluded with the phrase: “Mitakuye Oyasin” or translated means: “we are all relatives.” We are one people, created in the image and likeness of the Heavenly Father.
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