A few days ago, I was discussing prayer with a friend and we came to a valid point, namely that you should only pray for things you really, really want. Because when kharis is strong, you will receive what you have asked for, and you are obligated to make good on your prayer. In short, a prayer is a vow to deity.

An example: I have a lot of deadlines in my future, and I know that I don't deal so well with those; I tend to shut down and do nothing at all. Besides the blog, a new issue of Little Witch magazine is coming up, and I haven't written my articles yet, let alone the articles of the writers who'll undoubtedly pull out at the last possible minute. As it's a labor of love, it happens every single time. I don't mind, but it does mean I need the time to get it all done before the magazine goes live. I'm also working extra a lot this month and next month, so there are really too few hours in the day for everything.

Since more hours in the day is a tall order, I petition the Muses with offerings of sweet wine and incense, begging for inspiration, instead. When I'm inspired, it doesn't matter how tired I am, I can write, work or do anything else. I tend to do this on the eve of the day, so it comes into effect--when granted, of course-- the following day. That means that the following day, no matter what, I need to have the time and space to write, to make good on the divine inspiration that the Muses may or may not grant me. I can't book it full with other things: I have made a vow that--should They see fit to grand my prayers--I will make the most of the gift They have given me.

If I break my vow and play video games instead, I can be sure that the next time I petition the Muses, They will not grant my request. I have broken kharis, and misused Their trust in me. The Muses, in my experience, are mild, but not forgiving. They rarely punish after a vow is broken, but they can withhold Their favor for ages.

So, this is a small reminder to be careful what you vow, especially when you petition Deities who may not be as kind as the gracious Muses. Even the ancient Hellens knew this; from the Delphic Maxims:

"Flee a pledge (Εγγυην φευγε)"