ARE YOU READY TO RECEIVE?
Here at Unity of Castro Valley we are thoroughly committed to being a catalyst for personal and collective transformation, in which the heart is opened to experience God's profound love and joy and in which divinely-inspired dreams are made manifest. This is who we are. This is what we are all about!
And if you think about distilling all of our teachings down to specific practices, I propose that there are nine of them that, when experienced in tandem, support us in living from our God-centered nature with our hearts opened and our visions and dreams made manifest. This month we are exploring what I am calling the "Divine Nine."
As a reminder, and so you don't have to spend all month wondering what The Divine Nine are, here's the list:
* Sacred Service otherwise known as Seva - which we explored last week. It is giving of our time and talent from the overflow of our Infinite Beingness and from a place of knowing that as we serve all of God's creation, we are re-enacting the loving Givingness of God and therefore expressing our own Divine Nature.
* Sacred Giving otherwise known as Tithing - which we also explored last week. It is leaving 1/10 of our supply with the Source of all our Supply and keeping and using as we see fit the remaining 90%. I am excited about the 90-day, money-back guarantee Tithing Challenge we launched last week, and I applaud those of you who said "yes" to it. If you want to play, it's not too late - it's never too late! - and there are forms located in your program.
The other seven are:
* Affirmative Prayer
Today we will explore two of these by asking the question: Are You Ready to Receive?
RECEIVE ALL OF GOD'S GOOD
"Receive what?" you might ask. Are you ready to receive Divinely Inspired ideas, Spirit's highest vision for you, and revelations from the Source of all life? Are you ready to receive flashes of brilliance and insights for your life? And, are you ready to receive all the good the Universe desires to pour upon you, remembering it is the Father's Good Pleasure to give you the Kingdom?
That's what I am asking you this morning when I pose the question: Are You Ready to Receive?
Well? Are you? I'm glad your answer is "yes" because that's what our two spiritual practices of today are all about! They open us, they prepare us, and they expand us to receive. If we want our hearts opened to experience God's profound love and joy and our divinely-inspired dreams to be made manifest, we must be ready to receive!
I love this statement from Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind: "God cannot give us anything unless we are in a mental condition to receive the gift."a
Our two Sacred Spiritual Practices for today are referred to in these two scriptures: The first one appears in Proverbs: "Where there is no vision the people perish."b And the second one Paul wrote to the Thessalonians advising them to: "Pray without ceasing."c Today we are going to experience the two sacred practices to which those passages refer!
1. Receiving Through Visioning. The first, inspired by the passage from Proverbs: "Where there is no vision the people perish" . . . is the practice of visioning. And behind the practice is the idea that if we do not have a vision for our lives, a vision of where we want to end up (at least the end of this circle around the upward spiral of our unending evolution), then we will live our lives by default. But if we have a vision, our lives will be lived by design.
Here's the deal - we will live our life one way or the other -- and we are at choice whether it's by default or design.
The spiritual practice, the sacred spiritual practice, of visioning opens us to receive a picture of the end.
With this practice we invite answers from deep inside of us, from the God of our being, from the Source of all Life that breaths us to open us to receive in our conscious awareness those ideas, visions and inspirations of where we really want to be in life, in our relationships, with the earth, with our physical vitality, with our creative capacity. Because when you know where you want to end up...you will design your life, not live by default.
In a moment, we will have a brief experience of the spiritual practice called "Visioning" because it is something to be experienced again and again, not just talked about! But first I want to talk, for a moment, about our second practice for this morning.
2. Receiving Through Affirmative Prayer. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians advising them to: "Pray without ceasing."
Dr. Alexia Carrel, a French surgeon and biologist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the early 1900s wrote: "Prayer is the most powerful form of energy that one can generate. The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is as demonstrable as that of secreting glands. Its results can be measured in terms of increased buoyancy, greater intellectual vigor, moral stamina, and a deeper understanding of human relationships. Prayer is indispensable to the fullest development of personality. Only in prayer do we achieve that complete harmonious assembly of mind, body, and spirit which gives the frail human need its unshakable strength. When we pray we liken ourselves with the inexhaustible motive that spins the universe."d
In order to have successful prayer, you have to have a rhythm, a regularity, a pace, a process.
If I were doing this lesson today about oxygen, and trying to tell you how oxygen sustains your physical life, and then I said, just take one breath, just one, that's all you need, that would not do. VERY soon you would be depleted again. Or if I told you to just take a series of quick, short breaths, you would soon hyperventilate. The thing that enables oxygen to sustain your physical life is the regularity, the rhythm, the pace, the process of breathing.
And so it is with prayer. It is a sacred and powerful spiritual practice done with regularity, rhythm, and pace. It is then that it opens us up to Source; it readies us to receive.
Holmes writes in The Science of Mind: "Prayer does something to the mind of the one praying. It does not do anything to God. The Eternal Gift is always made. The Gift of God is the Nature of God, the Eternal Givingness. God cannot help making the gift, because God is the Gift. We do not have to pray God to be God. . . . But there can be no gift without a receiver."e
The purpose of prayer is NOT to change God's mind. The purpose is to open us up to RECEIVE the good that is already available!
In Unity, we have a very specific type of prayer we teach that offers us rhythm, pace and process, and we say to use it regularly! We call it Affirmative Prayer.
"Receive Cheerfully Infinite Spiritual Good" is actually a mnemonic device for remembering the five steps of Treatment. R - C - I -S - G - Receive Cheerfully Infinite Spiritual Good
1. Relaxation: Relaxation is necessary to get the body out of the way - to still the physical.
2. Concentration: Concentrate now on the full wonder of breathing. (In the symphony and harmony of the body, breathing is the secondary rhythm. The pulsation of the heart is the primary rhythm.) With the power of concentration it is possible to control these rhythms.
3. Imagination: Now, using your imaging power, see a mental picture of what you need or desire. If you need healing, see yourself perfect and whole. If you need prosperity, see yourself with abundance. Whatever your need, picture it.
A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very ill with a fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication for her daughter.
When returning to her car she found that she had locked her keys in the car. She was in a hurry to get home to her sick daughter, she didn't know what to do, so she called her home and told the baby sitter what had happened and that she did not know what to do. The baby sitter told her that her daughter was getting worse and she needed to get home as soon as she possibly could.
She said, "You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door."
The woman thought. "Great". She looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been thrown down on the ground probably by someone else who had locked their keys in their car. Then she looked at the hanger and said, "I don't know how to use this."
So she bowed her head and asked God to send her some help. Within five minutes an old rusty car pulled up with a dirty, greasy, bearded man wearing an old biker skull rag on his head. The woman thought, great God. This is what you send me to help me. The man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. She almost refused him. He was really unpleasant looking. In fact, he scared her.
But something inside her said to let him, so she said, "Yes. My daughter is very sick. I stopped to get her some medication, and I locked my keys up in my car. I must get home to her. Please, can you use this wire to unlock my car?" He said, "SURE." He walked over to the car, and in under one minute the car was opened.
She hugged the man and through her tears she said, "THANK YOU SO MUCH. You are a very nice man."
The man replied, "Lady, I am not a nice man. See, I just got out of prison today. I have only been out for about an hour. I was in prison for car theft."
The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, "THANK YOU GOD FOR SENDING ME A PROFESSIONAL."
Remember in this step, we accept the WHAT, but not the HOW!
4. Speak the Word: Now you are ready to give voice to your need. Remembering that the power center is in the throat speak an affirmative prayer.
5. Gratitude: Always end your prayer time with giving thanks. Gratitude is a grace as well as a duty. Not to say "Thank you" is to show oneself ill-mannered and uncouth.
Cultivate the habit of thanksgiving. There is therapy in thanksgiving. In stating your thankfulness, use clear, definite words. Say what you are thankful for.
Just like the spiritual practice of Visioning, Affirmative Prayer must also be done, not just talked about, so we are going to do both right now.
So I want you to start with Relaxation. Close your eyes if that is comfortable for you. Take a deep breath and quiet yourself. Now slow down your breathing and know that with every breath you draw you are taking in something of the creative and revitalizing breath of God. Let God be more real than anything you can see or touch. Think only of God and Glory in the fact of His very being.
Now Concentrate on the basic wonder of breathing. Concentrate your thoughts now and think about God. Know that you live in the wonder of God's love. Know that you are one with God. Feel your oneness with God.
Now I want you to Imagine yourself 3 years from now. We are going to concentrate on a vision of our highest and best in life. Where are you, in your mind's eye? Put yourself into the picture. Scan your senses… lights, temperature, movement of the air, sound, smells. Who is there? What's happening?
What are you most proud of? Get emotional, personal and specific. What are your top major accomplishments? Imagine there was a feature article about your success. What did the headlines say? What difference did this make in the world?
In the past 3 years, what is the most significant breakthrough that launched you into a whole new level of wild success? How? Who helped make it happen? What was different?
Whose lives is your work touching? Who are you serving? How exactly are they engaging with you? Why are they choosing to engage with your messages, services or products? What's in it for them?
Notice others similar to you. How are you specifically unique and different?
What are some services or approaches that you do NOT offer or do?
How are others working with you? What is the feeling/tone of that work? What's new and different? Why is it working so well? What are the specific structures and practices that are making this new level of collaboration so successful?
What kind of abundance are you enjoying? What does that look like, specifically?
Where are you working, and not working - are there specific communities? Regions? How focused are you?
What else do you notice that's different, or the same, in this successful, deeply satisfying future?
Now give voice to your vision. Form a short affirmative statement of what you will do or be in 3 years.
And now we give thanks for this vision that the universe has given us. We are so grateful that God will be our partner in realizing this vision. Thank you Father for showing us our highest and best good. We now accept this and always allow for something even better. AMEN
aErnest Holmes The Science of Mind p. 470
c1 Thessalonians 5:17
dDr. Alexia Carrel French surgeon & biologist 1900 Nobel Peace Prize winner
eErnest Holmes The Science of Mind p. 280