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Editor's 1-Minute Essay:
return to "Prayer" main-page
"Pray without ceasing." The Apostle Paul
"If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a
great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I'd look up
into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if
there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer.”
Anne of Green Gables
prayer has two meanings
The discussion of prayer divides the topic into two broad definitions:
(1) prayer as petitioning, asking, a pleading for desires and wishes to be fulfilled; the emphasis is on human need, that which is lacking.
(2) prayer as state of mind, awareness, a perception of Divinity’s presence and involvement in one’s life; this view of prayer becomes a virtual state of consciousness, a silent, wordless accessing of Universal Intelligence and Love; allowing us and helping us to receive what it is that God would have us to receive.
Prayer-as-asking will express itself in a wide continuum concerning the “cares of this world”; from the gross materialism of Joplin's “buy me a Mercedes” (see the main-page of quotes) to the basic requirements of maintaining life, help for finding a job, mate, or securing better health. Also included here are “beseechings” and “supplications” for imagined spiritual needs such as God’s forgiveness, mercy, pardon, and the like; however, as Father Benson informs us, God never judges or punishes us, cannot be offended, and therefore has no mercy to give.
Christian minister Malcolm Smith, in one of his taped sermons, offers valuable understanding about the dysfunctional modern "churchianity" view of prayer.
we beat on our drums to get god's attention
In his younger years, Malcolm spent time in Africa as a missionary. In one of the villages, he encountered a great deal of drum-beating and wild dancing. He asked the village elders what all the commotion was about. Their response went something like:
"We're trying to get the attention of our gods. We know they don't like us very much, and don't really care about our situation. So we beat our drums and do our dances to flatter the gods, to worship and praise them, so that they'll take notice of us and maybe help us."
Is this not a sad state of affairs? How thoroughly pagan - like a child whining and fretting, tugging on the skirt of Mummy to force her attention. But we should not haughtily feel superior to the primitives; you may already have discerned Malcolm's point - how similar is the modern Church's viewpoint of prayer.
Most people can't just walk in a field and silently commune with Divine Intelligence and know that all is well in hand; ready to receive whatever it is that God would have receive. Instead, we have to "beat our drums," "bang our pots," and "do our dances" by contacting many others to pray for our need, sending out a prayer-bulletin, by engaging in complicated formularies of masses, prayer sessions, fastings, hosannas and hallelujahs, praise-worship-flattery, pilgrimages, deal-making with heaven, vows, giving money, sending in Mary to convince the angry Father - all designed to "get the attention" of a god whom we believe doesn't really like us all that much.
standing in line to be heard
This pagan god is as charming as the woman in Frank and Nancy Sinatra's song, Something Stupid, who disdains terms of endearment, contemptuously makes her petitioner stand-in-line until she deigns to "spend an evening with me," but, even when his prayers are answered and they "go dancing," he knows that "she might not be leaving with me," so fickle is she that he could be ignored and replaced that very evening! (smile) - but, if he puts up with that kind of insult, he needs to think about his own neediness, lack of self-respect, and cut his losses - and quickly.
you will not be heard for your much speaking
How thoroughly pagan is all this drum-beating and pot-banging; and how contrary to simple and plain New Testament teaching of "Do not think that you will be heard for your much speaking"; or the apostle Paul's advice of "Let your simple yes be yes and your no be no," with no need for embellishment.
Prayer as state of consciousness is promoted by many of the great souls, such as Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Meister Eckhart, Lucy Montgomery, John Bunyan, Amit Ray, Francis of Assisi, Eben Alexander, and so many others; the most notable among which, I think, is the Apostle Paul with his famous advice to “pray without ceasing” delivering “the peace which passes all understanding.”
Some of the featured quotations (on the main-page) are humorous, but widely divergent of wisdom. Comedian George Carlin made me laugh with his outrageous “I pray to Joe Pesci, he knows how to get things done, even a couple of things God had trouble with.” Joe’s brutality, indeed, did get things done with Evil's "efficient" ways; for example, in a movie as enforcer of Las Vegas magnate Robert De Niro, but it also got Joe bludgeoned with a pipe-wrench and buried alive in a cornfield. George failed to mention that little part on Joe's effectiveness.
we all need things right now; however...
There’s nothing wrong with prayer-as-asking. We all need things during our present time of mortality and vulnerability. But in our asking let us avoid the ego-driven needy state of mind, that of “not being enough.”
"gimme, gimme, I need, I need, I need"
Eckhart Tolle’s instruction of “the art of presence” – that is, accessing the inner, true self linked to Universal Abundance - is another way, a very good way, of talking about prayer as a state of consciousness.
When we live in Summerland, prayer-as-asking for material blessings will become passé. In that day, prayer-as-consciousness will take center-stage; for some, it already has, and well that it should.
Living in an awareness of God is part of our eternal home. As Anne wisely suggests, we need to feel a prayer, and when we learn how, we can "pray without ceasing."
Editor's note: The word “prayer” means much more than “asking”; in fact, “asking" is meant to be the minor part. “Pray without ceasing” really means “be in contact,” “be in communication - all the time.” There is an area of life in which we might easily understand these words. Twin Soul lovers, “made in the image,” are meant to reveal the “hidden face” of God to each other. Twins, each for the other, serve as God’s agent of divine revelation. As they do, they find themselves wanting to be with each other all the time, to share everything, to know “the great relief of having you to talk to.” In this ready communion and unbroken fellowship, they bring to full flower - to a degree that we were not meant to experience with Divinity itself, but only with God’s agent – the precept of “be in communication - all the time.” Suddenly we perfectly understand the meaning. However, these assertions will be misunderstood, and therefore a restatement will be helpful. There is a sense in which we are, or might be, in “constant contact” with God. As the “Course In Miracles” uses the phrase, “God goes with me wherever I go,” and we look forward to this perception of the nearness of God, now, and in ages to come. All this acknowledged, there is a reason why Twin Souls, female and male, are referred to as “made in the image.” The God of the universe, all worlds and dimensions, is so far above us, so utterly transcendent, and shall always be, that a kind of “step-down transformer,” an agent and expression of God, was provided that we might know Divinity in a more accessible manner. Welcome to your Twin Soul, whose duty, among many, is to reveal the “hidden face” of God. This is one of the reasons, among many, why you will want to be with her, all the time. See the four articles on "the meaning of beauty."
The following is the first point of evidence featured on the "Afterlife" page. I include it here as it involved "praying" as part of the experiment:
#1 Dr. Gary Schwartz: detecting the presence of light-radiating Spirit-entities in a biophoton laboratory.
The following experiment, conducted by Professor Gary Schwartz, University of Arizona, is elegant in its simplicity, easy to understand, yet offers some of the most potent empirical evidence for the existence of an afterlife.
"What happened next I witnessed with my own two eyes. In watching hundreds of hours of outputs, I rarely saw photon sums above 50-75. I was now seeing a 173-unit photon, and it occurred shortly after I had [silently] asked [invisible Spirit entities] to make a big [display of light]."
immature prayer is a form of "choice," the dysfunctional gimmee-gimmee; but the advanced person no longer "chooses" at all, but instead atunes oneself with Universal Intelligence, thereby allowing "the answer" simply to come
On the "Reincarnation" page, where I explain its many errors, I explore the question, "Is reincarnation a personal choice?" as many believe it to be.
You are invited to read the entire discussion there, however, I came to see that the Higher Self no longer chooses anything, in this world or the next. Instead, it accesses God's mind, brings itself into alignment with it, and by this atunement, is led in the right direction.
Editor's note: I make an issue of "this world or the next" because there are a lot people on the other side who have not yet found their "true selves," causing them to "pray for" and "choose" worlds which merely reflect their egoic states of mind.
The following is an excerpt from the "Reincarnation" page:
As our “eyes open,” we’ll stop making “choices” and simply allow the answer to come to us. It is only the Ego that wants to “choose.” It will attempt to choose in all aspects of life, in this world and the next, until we get our heads right, including the area of “R” ...
Everything the Ego touches eventually turns to tears, brings no satisfaction, leads to existential crisis, comes to nothing -- but for the chaos it creates. The Higher Self does not “choose,” in any area of life, in this world or the next. Regarding those very rare instances of certain ones returning to the Earth as a mortal for a special service-mission, this is not a “choice,” as such, but an alignment with Universal Intelligence, which directs the endeavor.
caught in fearful perceptions, trapped in worries, that we will not find happiness
excerpts from the writings of physicist Peter Russell, "From Science To God"
In every moment I have a choice as to how I see a situation. I can see it through the eyes caught in the materialistic mindset that worries whether or not I am going to get what I think will make me happy. Alternatively, I can choose to see it through eyes free from the dictates of this thought system.
prayer as panic-button, when we believe we will not get what we need to "make me happy"
But it is not always easy to make that choice. Once I’ve been caught by a fearful perception, I’m seldom aware there could even be another way of seeing things. I think my reality is the only reality.
Sometimes, however, I recognize there could be another way of seeing things, but I don’t know what it is. I can’t make the shift on my own; I need help. But where do I go for help? Other people are as likely to be caught in this thought system as I am [meaning, they can’t help me]. The place to go for help is deep within, to that level of consciousness that lies beyond the materialistic mindset – to the God within. I have to ask God for help. I have to pray.
do not pray for the world to change
When I pray in this way, I am not asking for divine intervention by an external God. I am praying to the divine presence within… Moreover, I am not praying for the world to be different than it is. I am praying for a different perception of the world. I am asking for divine intervention where it really counts – in the mindsets that govern my thinking.
“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein
The results never cease to impress me. Invariably, I find my fears and judgment drop away. In their place is a sense of ease. Whoever or whatever was troubling me I now see through more loving and compassionate eyes.
we are not to pray that someone might love us; this is an impossible request
"When The Summer Is Through" (1966)
all summer long, I’ll be praying that you, will still feel the same, when the summer is through, come back, when the summer is over, I’ll wait for you, so impatiently, I’m longing to see you in September, the summer can’t go by, soon enough for me…
“When The Summer Is Through” is an emotionally-moving song about a couple, presumably, college students, who’ve parted for the summer months. “I’ll wait for you,” he laments, “so impatiently.” Moreover, he prays that she will be of the same mind upon reunion “when the summer is though.”
We understand the sentiment. The ancient Spirit Guide, Silver Birch, instructs that romantic love accesses part of the mind of the Great Spirit and, as such, aligns itself with the most powerful force in the universe. Anyone who is missing someone needs little convincing of this precept.
However, it does no good to pray that she will want you as much in September. God and the Guides cannot work with such requests. How could it be otherwise? For some external force, even Divinity itself, to tamper with the volitional attributes of one “made in the image” would be to diminish and violate one’s very humanity. No one in Summerland, or highest Heaven, would ever do such a thing, and so any appeal for her to “still feel the same when the summer is through,” of absolute necessity, must be tabled with no action forthcoming.
Editor’s note: Would you really want someone who needed coaxing and arm-twisting? There’s a Star Trek: Next Generation episode featuring a young girl, a member of “The Q.” She falls for Riker, but he has no feelings for her. Desperate to be accepted, she employs her formidable powers to cause him to seek for her, even against his will. She quickly abandons the effort, however, as the emptiness of it all soon overtakes her.
But he needn’t trouble himself overly much with worry. Either they are Twin Souls - which means, ultimately, they will not be able to escape each other - or they are not; and, if this latter is the case, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later as they’d only end up making each other miserable, no matter how much youthful passion, at the moment, protests otherwise. Read about it in The Wedding Song.
The point is, when we pray, think about it first: Our requests must not violate sacred personhood, the capacity for free will, free choice, and the responsibility of living one’s own life. Any supplication, by an observing third party, sincere as it may be, which countermands this “prime directive” of the universe, will not rise even as high as a room’s ceiling. All of this is a polite way of saying - save your breath. If we're unrealistic, if we think prayer is our own private magic wand to make God do what we want in opposition to natural law, then these entreaties can devolve, as I use the phrase, to empty godtalk. See Father Benson's instruction on how the Spirit World deals with our prayers.
a Course In Miracles and its instruction on prayer
It is not necessary to tell Him [God] what to do. He cannot fail. Where He can enter [to effect what you desire], there He is already.
Mark well this precept from the Course In Miracles as it is the truth. If some good thing can be done for us, then God and his agents, the Spirit Guides, are already johnny-on-the-spot working on it. We don't even have to ask for it. It's already being worked on; if, indeed, such request fulfilled would be in our best interests.
But this isn’t the view of the average religious person, of almost whatever religion. With these, you need to twist God’s arm. He’s so detached, don’t you know, he sleeps a lot and can hardly be bothered to help you. To get his attention you need prayer warriors, prayer chains, prayer wheels, prayer alerts, prayer bulletins, prayer newsletters, prayer something-else, round-the-clock intercessions, masses, all-night prayer-chanting vigils, mindless-memorized prayer recitation, special rogation days of supplication, or whatever other pot-banging contrivance might be employed to lobby and rouse a complacent God.
formulas, programs and advice, all peddling techniques for getting what you want from God
"The world is filled with so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. [God] knows better than you what you need." (Matt. 6:7,8, The Message)
All of these prayer-schemes do not represent reality and will not score points for our case. When our prayers are not answered, then, we can know, (1) whatever we want is not good for us, or (2) it’s the wrong time for it, (3) we need to learn other lessons right now, and, the big one, (4) we’re not prepared to receive.
This last item is the real issue. The real problem of unanswered prayer is not on God’s side, as his team is already right in there, if it can or should be done. The real problem is on our side. We're not ready; we’re immature; we’d make a hash of it; like winning the lottery, it would ruin us.
The needy-little ego has created this lobbying-effort view of prayer, that of ganging up on God to get our own way - as if God didn't care about us; as if God could be schmoozed into making a deal; and, as if we even knew what was good for us. LOL
Editor's last word:
Elsewhere, I offered my own experience with praying and fasting and lessons learned. Briefly, for some years, especially during my Bible college days, I engaged in a strict regimen, a kind of military discipline, of 36-hour fasting every 2 weeks, plus daily prayer of one hour. After years of this, I found myself burned out. It didn't really help me, except to reveal what doesn't work.
Note: Jesus used the phrase “when you fast,” indicating that this will be done. However, pretty much, Jesus never gave a straight answer to anything. I suspect that the “latter day” representation of fasting is not going without food and drink but expunging the ego from our spirits; today’s fasting is the “long dark night of the soul.” We used to think that fasting for some protracted period of time was extremely difficult; little did we know that controlling and overcoming the ego is the hardest thing, by far, that we will ever do in our eternal lives. See the book on the “small quiet room” for extensive discussion.
I'm reminded of a comment of Tolle that the Buddha did not enter enlightenment until he gave up ascetic practices. I understand what this means now. Enlightenment comes "through" the body, that is, accessing the inner "subtle body," not by punishing and denying the outer body.
Will Durant mentions that in many primitive languages the term "god" means "a dead man" - most gods began as idealized ancestors. A related concept is the "eponymous hero," or "eponym," a legendary person to whom a group attributes its origin and name; e.g., Troy from Tros, Dorians from Doros, Peloponnesus from Pelops, Hercules from Hera (the goddess he overcame). It's not hard to see how this happened, given the venerable status of revered, dearest relatives. And it's a natural desire to want to talk or "pray to" our departed dearest.
These days, whenever I can, I like to do what Anne suggested and walk in that "great big field alone." Her "open book of Revelation" seems most alive in that venue. When I do, I talk to my closest relatives on the other side, ones with whom I'll gladly spend eternity, and discuss with them plans, current situation, and hopes for the future. We learn from the afterlife reports that those on the other side can hear us if we speak directly to them. I think we need this kind of communication with our dearest ones as it helps us to feel that we're not going through the difficult Earth-experience alone. I also "pray" or "speak" to my Spirit Guides, and of course to God whom I address as "Mother-Father."