PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
A minister dies and goes to heaven. Assigned a terrific place, but as he explores his neighborhood he finds a mansion up the hill. His home pales in comparison. Disgruntled, he asks St. Peter who lives there. When he was told it was a New York cab driver, he was horrified. After all, he served the Lord for over 25 years. He stored up all his treasurer in heaven; he slaved and sacrificed.
St. Peter said that all may be true, but there was one thing that decided the living arrangements in heaven. Results. Rewards in heaven were based on results. So, he asked the minister, "When people came into your church - often what did they do?" Minister had to admit that often they fell asleep.
St. Peter said, "That's right. But when people stepped into this man's cab, they not only stayed awake, they prayed!"
Today, we continue our theme of interesting conversations as we explore the idea of Prayer, which has often been said to be "talking to God." In the questions I received from you two weeks ago, several of you asked about prayer. You also asked how to develop healthy thought habits and someone asked the hard question of, "why does it seem that prayer doesn't always get answered?"
So, today we are going to address those questions by exploring 3 topics fairly quickly and then I want us to have an experience of the kind of prayer we are talking about.
Before I address these three topics, I want to say one quick thing about another spiritual practice that was asked about, with a very specific question, that I don't anticipate talking about for quite sometime, but I don't want to leave the question unanswered. So, I'm going to address it very quickly right now.
The spiritual practice asked about is tithing and the question is:"Will you still like me if I don't tithe? I feel guilty."
Check your guilt at the door and don't pick it up when you leave. There is no need for it here! Tithing is a spiritual practice. It is my job, our job as a church, to teach spiritual practices. It is then your job to decide what works for you. No judgment on my part! So the bottom line answer is 'Yes, without question!'
So, now back to the spiritual practice of prayer. Here are the three topics I want us to look at this morning:
To Whom Do We Pray?
What is Affirmative Prayer?
Why Doesn't Prayer Seem to be Answered?
1. TO WHOM DO WE PRAY?
1. To Whom Do We Pray? Or asked another way, "Who are we talking to in prayer?"
The key is in this simple statement from Ernest Holmes in the Science Of Mind: "Prayer is not an act of overcoming God's reluctance, but should be an active acceptance of His highest willingness."a The objective of prayer is not to convince God of anything! It is, instead, for us to attain a new consciousness, for us to rise to a new awareness.
In his book, Healing Words, Larry Dossey says: "The prime purpose of prayer is to recreate our sense of oneness with God, to expand our consciousness beyond our limited horizon of thought and thus to realize who and what we are."b
Our work is not to seek to change God's will or to stir God into action, but to let go of doubt and fears and negative states of mind that have caused our difficulties.
2. WHAT IS SPIRITUAL MIND TREATMENT OR AFFIRMATIVE PRAYER?
2. What is Affirmative Prayer? Letting go of doubt, fears and negative states of mind is what we do in Affirmative Prayer.
Ernest Holmes wrote: "An essential element in the effectiveness of my treatment, which underlies all my techniques, is my pervading consciousness of the Presence and Power of Spirit as my life [NOTICE THE WORD IS "AS" NOT "IN"], and my full acceptance of my inherent well-being and wholeness as the Spiritual Being that I am, right here, right now."c
Here are the steps to take us to that consciousness - briefly; you'll get to experience them in a moment.
Recognition: God is all there is, God is the only Power.
Unification: I am in God, God is in me.
Realization: I claim my answered prayer as if it were already done, with deep feeling and acceptance.
Gratitude: I feel so grateful and thankful for the answered prayer.
I Release: I let it go, knowing the law knows how to take care of the details. I trust God, I relax, and I let it go!
3. WHY DOESN'T PRAYER SEEM TO BE ANSWERED?
3. Why Doesn't Prayer Seem to be Answered? What about when prayer appears not to have been answered?
First, it very well may have been answered, but the answer came in such a soft and quiet way that you didn't notice it. The situation simply changed and you went about your business not even noticing. Perhaps create a prayer log to track this.
Second, again, it was answered, but the answer was different from how you saw it in your mind, so you missed it entirely. I have a friend who prayed for prosperity. She envisioned money coming to her. But instead of money pouring down on her, her bills disappeared. Creditors were calling to let her know she didn't own them anything, they had made a mistake.
Third, you have negated it in one of a couple of ways. EH writes you can't pray for something for 15 minutes a day and then spend 23 hours and 45 minutes worrying about the issue and expect to get results! Because where is your energy? I have seen this happen. I will sit and pray with someone about an issue, then seconds after we say Amen, they are bemoaning the problem again.
Remember the premise of Treatment: An essential element in the effectiveness of my treatment, which underlies all my techniques, is my pervading consciousness of the Presence and Power of Spirit as my life, and my full acceptance of my inherent well-being and wholeness as the Spiritual Being that I am, right here, right now.
There is a great analogy in The Isaiah Effect by Gregg Braden, -"The soup of all creation". Braden says that "the soup of creation"d exists as a state of possibilities, all of the components for all of the things that we could ever conceive of, including life itself, exist as this state of possibility. Although the components are there to build them, there has been no trigger to nudge them into motion. The idea is similar to creating rock candy from a jar of water saturated with sugar. We may place many tablespoons of sugar into the water and watch as the sugar dissolves and disappears. Though we no longer see the sugar, we know there are several tablespoons hidden somewhere in the water.
The sugar remains invisible until something comes along and changes the conditions of the water. A catalyst. This could be a fibrous string into the water. As the sugar laden water seeps into the string it evaporates, leaving behind the sugar, making candy.
When we create feelings about the things that we choose to experience in our world, our feelings are like the string in the sugar solution. Into the possibilities of creation, we place a feeling picture, just enough energy to allow for a new possibility. That's the definition of "mental equivalent," by the way, for the person who wanted more on that topic.
The key is to put your energy where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. And if you can't get it to where you want to go, at least get it out of worry and doubt. Do something to shift - music, dance, pets, funny movie, etc.
When doubt starts to creep in use the power of affirmations to keep your prayers on track
Ernest Holmes' practitioner, Vetura Papke, used to tell her clients after they had come to see her as a practitioner to literally or symbolically wash their hands every time they wanted to "take back" the issue they had come to see her about. This physical action would remind them that the issue had been turned over to God.
Another block that we can put up to our prayers - we don't see HOW it can possibly manifest. Remember, it is our job to know the WHAT. It is God's job to figure out the HOW.
"My part is to believe; God's part is to provide all that is needed."e
Ernest Holmes, Science Of Mind:
"Pray without ceasing." This means to be always on the affirmative side of life. To pray without ceasing is to doubt never, but to always trust the Law of Good.f
So, is there anyone with a specific request that they would like prayer for?
aErnest Holmes Science Of Mind p. 152
bLarry Dossey Healing Words
cErnest Holmes Science Of Mind
dThe Isaiah Effect Gregg Braden, p. 157
fErnest Holmes Science Of Mind p. 497