THE FOURTH SECRET OF ANSWERED PRAYER (ACCORDING TO UNITY OF CASTRO VALLEY)
This month, we have focused on the spiritual novel The Prayer Chest, in which three secrets to answered prayer are revealed. It is my deepest hope that you are beginning to live the three secrets, which are . . .
Prayer is answered through you.
Prayer is answered when you listen.
Prayer is answered when you welcome everything.a
At the end of the novel, the main character Joseph writes a 4th Secret to Answered Prayer in the prayer notebook, but we are not told what it is. The final lines of the book read: "Joseph could not know that with the original three secrets, the Prayer Chest would have saved dozens of lives. But with the Fourth Secret that he added, the chest would save thousands."b
Obviously, this leaves an opening for a sequel to the book. Well, we are going to have our own sequel this morning as we look at the Fourth Secret ala Unity of Castro Valley.
I want to offer my deepest thanks to everyone who submitted ideas for the fourth secret. Here they are:
Several of you suggested that gratitude is the 4th secret, particularly being grateful for the deeper knowing that has occurred as a result of the circumstances;
You also suggested that our prayers are answered when we BE the thing we pray for (or to quote William James: "Act as if and it shall be");
Another said that the 4th secret is the faith that is magnified when one or more are gathered together;
And another said that prayer is answered when you pray and then simply go about your business of living ("chop wood, carry water, throw some hay to the animals, love unconditionally and sleep - a good plan after prayer, I would say!").
And these are all great ideas and any one of them could be the 4th secret. It will be interesting to see if another novel comes out what the authors say the 4th secret is.
But this morning, I want to pose yet another idea. I want to pose the idea of RELEASE as the 4th secret to answered prayer.
As schooled metaphysicians, we are very familiar with idea of release as it relates to affirmative prayer - we release the prayer to the Law, just like we must release a seed into the soil in order for the seed to take root and sprout. But I want to delve a bit deeper than that.
I propose that the 4th secret to answered prayer is this: Prayers are answered when we release our attachment to the outcome. And by attachment to outcome, I specifically mean two things . . . Attachment to HOW the prayer will be answered; and Attachment to WHAT the outcome will be.
Science Of Mind in reference to Matthew 6:6: "The secret of prayer and its power in the outward life depends upon an unconditioned faith in, and reliance upon this inner Presence. We must enter the closet. That is, we are to shut out all else and enter the Presence of Spirit, in quietness and confidence -- believing. Prayer has power, not through repetition, but by belief and acceptance. Prayer is to be simple, direct and receiving. We are to believe that God indwells our own life, that this Divine Presence is sufficient for all needs. We are to believe that God will provide for and bless us abundantly. And when we enter this secret place, we are to leave all else behind . . . ".c
And part of that "all else" we must leave behind are our attachments to HOW the answer will come about and WHAT it will be. Let's look at each of those ideas for a moment.
1. RELEASING YOUR ATTACHMENT TO THE HOW
We might (and I underscore the word "might") be better at releasing the HOW than the WHAT - sometimes at least. We have all heard the statement: It is our job to know the WHAT; it is God's job to know the HOW.
Well, if you haven't heard it before, you've heard it now.
There are times, however, we cannot possibly see HOW our prayers can be answered. We don't see any way. But I love this simple affirmation that I have used more than once in my life: God makes a way where there appears to be no way.
That simple statement helps us get out of the business of needing to know the HOW. The truth is that most people who have accomplished great things had absolutely no clue HOW they would do them!
Your prayers are answered when you FIRST release the need to know HOW it will be answered, remembering: It isn't your job to know HOW. It's God's job.
It is your job, however, to know the WHAT, which takes us to a wonderful little paradox. I love thinking about paradoxes - seemingly opposite or contradictory concepts.
It seems like I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth here. In the last breath I said it is our job to know the WHAT, but a few breaths before that I said the 4th secret to answered prayer is releasing our attachment to the WHAT. So what's up with that?! Let's explore.
2. RELEASING YOUR ATTACHMENT TO THE WHAT
It is my job to know the WHAT. Holmes is very clear about that. He writes that: "Consciousness must be conscious of something".d
Science Of Mind: Prayer should be direct and specific.e
Science Of Mind: When we treat (pray) we should be specific. "Whatsoever we desire" when we pray we should "believe that we have them." If we wish money we should ask for, or mentally accept, money. If we wish a home we should ask for, or mentally accept, a home. We can put as much detail into our mental work as we desire.f
Science Of Mind: Be specific in praying, be direct and definite in your mental work. You are dealing with Intelligence, so deal with It intelligently.g
I could go on with other quotes, but you get the picture. Holmes tells us over and over again that it is our job to be clear, direct and specific about the WHAT that we desire in prayer.
And then, and then, and then . . . I am suggesting that in order for that prayer to be fully wonderful, marvelously and fantastically answered, you must let go of any attachment to it!
This can be more of a challenge than the idea of releasing the HOW, even to understand, let alone to do. But just think about this for a moment. You have prayed for something - someone give me an example of something you might put in your prayer box. So you have prayed for a ______, which means you have a great desire for it, right?
Every desire has two sides. There's that which you desire and there's the lack of it.
When you remain attached to the WHAT of your prayer you just might have a tendency to begin spending your time in trying to see if the WHAT has appeared and since it hasn't yet, then your real attention goes to what? To the fact that your ___ isn't here and, of course, now with every thought that it isn't here yet, you align yourself consciously with the lack of it - and so that is what you get!
When you are attached to the WHAT and then worry that it isn't here, you move yourself out of the place of allowing the prayer to be answered through you!
And until you are in the receiving or allowing mode, your prayers, even though they have been answered, will seem unanswered to you. This is [again!] NOT because your prayers have been unanswered, but because your vibration is not a match to them, so you are not letting them in.
By giving up your attachment to the outcome, you surrender to the creative intelligence of the cosmic nexus and allow it to unfold before you. Letting go of the attachment to the desire allows the intelligence of the universe to help your intentions manifest themselves.
Force is the sign of desperation. Demonstrations often come at the 11th hour because that is when we let go, that is, we stop reasoning and stop resisting, and Infinite Intelligence has a chance to work.
I love the example of being detached from the WHAT in the story of the Taoist farmer . . . This version comes from Joan Borensyenko's book 7 Path to God (formerly The Ways of the Mystic):
Once upon a time, in Ancient China, there lived a Taoist farmer who followed the Great Way to God. He was considered a wealthy man because he had a horse to help with plowing.
One early spring morning, his horse ran off. When the villagers heard, they hastened to his home to express their sympathy. "What a terrible thing," they lamented. But all the Taoist farmer said was, "Well, it may be terrible or it may be good."
The next morning, his horse returned, leading an entire herd of wild mustangs. The townspeople rushed over, exclaiming at his good fortune. "Now you are the richest man in the province," they exalted. But all the farmer said was, "It may be good or it may be bad."
The following morning the farmer's only son awoke at dawn to begin breaking one of the wild horses. It promptly threw him, and his leg was broken. The townspeople rushed over in alarm. "What a terrible thing," they wept. "Without the help of your only son, how can you plant your fields?" But all the farmer said was "It may be bad or it may be good."
The next afternoon, the emperor's soldiers rode into town, kicking up an enormous cloud of dust. They had come to conscript all the young men into war, but the farmer's son could not go because of his broken leg. The townspeople once again gathered around to marvel at the farmer's good luck. But all he said was "It may be good or it may be bad."h
The story continues in the same fashion for many more verses, illustrating the important principle of nonattachment and its relationship to faith. The farmer knows that the Tao is harmonious and just, that all things conspire creatively for life to grow and evolve. Incidents that appear either good or bad can never be judged in isolation. Life is a paradox in which all things are relative and interrelated. One can only have faith in the ultimate working of the Tao.
1. Our prayers are answered through us.
2. Our prayers are answered when we listen.
3. Our prayers are answered when we welcome everything.
4. And, according to us, our prayers are answered when we release our attachment to the HOW and the WHAT of the answer.
(Invite up people who have brought their Prayer Chests and do a blessing of them as the closing prayer.)
It says in James 1: "Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."i
So we bless these Prayer Chests and those who hold them. We know that they are sacred in God's eyes. They are holy containers of our hopes and dreams and prayers. And we know that God hears our prayers and answers every one.
It says in Philippians 4: "The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen."j
aThe Prayer Chest August Gold & Joel Fotinos
bThe Prayer Chest August Gold & Joel Fotinos
cErnest Holmes Science Of Mind p 431 re Matthew 6:6
eErnest Holmes Science Of Mind p. 435
fErnest Holmes Science Of Mind p. 398
gErnest Holmes Science Of Mind p. 211
hJoan Borensyenko 7 Path to God (formerly The Ways of the Mystic)