PRAYING WITH IMAGES
In June we were talking about our Power of Imagination. Before we get into the Power of Will, I would like to finish out Imagination. What we want to learn and practice this week is that praying with our imagination is a powerful way to image the good - health, abundance, peace, and harmony. We want to learn to pray with images.
OUR GOD IMAGE
Let's look at our God image. We find in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible, that, In the beginning... (Genesis 1:26-27) "God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; ... So, God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."a Now, "In the beginning" doesn't mean a long time ago, it means what comes first, what is primary and basic and essential to being alive. We don't need to try to somehow put on a new self-image. We need to realize more fully that we are the image of God already. We are good. We are the image of the Infinite. We are God's begotten.
Myrtle Fillmore was very sickly and depressed and was looking for a way out. And it was revealed to her. She wrote, "The light of God revealed to us - the thought came to me first - that life was of God, that we were inseparably one with the source, and that we inherited from the divine and perfect Father. What that revelation did to me at first was not apparent to the senses. But it held my mind up above the negation, and I began to claim my birthright and to act as though I believed myself the child of God, filled with His life. I gained. And others saw that there was something new in me. ... We began to prosper, a little at a time, and our health continued to improve. Life became sweeter and more interesting, and we began to see a new world. In all these years, our interest has not lagged, and we have continued to enjoy the unfoldment of God's plan in our lives."b
So Myrtle realized that life was of God, that all was One, and holding to that image changed her life.
"IMAGINATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN KNOWLEDGE". Albert Einstein
We have the ability to form mental conceptions, pictures, images, and feelings. Albert Einstein wrote that "imagination is more important than knowledge."c
We understand that when we deal with imagination and images, not everyone "sees" images. We also "feel" images. Some see the image in their mind's eye, but others experience the image as a sensation or feeling. It's two ways of being with the image.
Also, Dr. Elmer Green, noted biofeedback researcher and practitioner, long associated with the Menninger Foundation, said, "Images are the language of the body."d By this he means that our bodies don't "hear" words as much as images. Relaxing, healing, calm images are powerful ways to communicate with our bodies, just as our bodies often send us messages by our feelings. (The word "symptom" comes from a Greek word, which means signal.)
So for just a moment, listen to this poem from Rumi, and just let the images arise within you. Don't try to understand it with your brain - just close your eyes, understand it with your heart and just see or feel the images.
In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, lover and beloved wake
and take a drink of water.
She asks, "Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth."
He says, "There's nothing left of me.
I'm like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
and told the truth!
The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Completely become hearing and ear,
and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don't think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who's there.e
Aren't those interesting images? Just notice how that felt in your body.
SEEING WITH THE SINGLE EYE
But to bring images into manifestation - we need to center on the image and not on its opposite. We need to see with the single eye. Jesus gave a great instruction in using our powers of faith and imagination when he said, (Matthew 6:22) "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy (single), your whole body will be full of light;"f
Today, the saying is, "What you see is what you get." Our seeing, beholding, conceiving, and believing, and imaging needs to be focused on the good. We are single-minded.
If your eye is single, you shall be filled with light. So, when you perceive the Unity of Good, you will perceive it in its entirety, an undivided whole. But if our eye is filled with evil or the negative, then we will remain in darkness. We need to hold to the good, and trust absolutely in the Law of God to bring about any desired end. Spirit will mold our purposes when we allow It to do so. As we learn to depend more and more upon God, we will find that the outward things which are necessary to our good, will be provided.
Some examples of being dual-minded are saying:
"I wish him success, but I don't see that he'll amount to a hill of beans." On the one hand you are saying a positive prayer, "I wish him success." But then you are turning around and invalidating that statement by your belief that he'll never make it.
Or you might say, "If I give this tithe, it will leave me short and ruin my finances this week." So, the principle of tithing is to return to God 10% of what you have received from God, since everything comes from God. And we know that as we give, so will we receive, even tenfold. But if you are tithing and then telling yourself that your belief system is that you will now have nothing - you are blocking all the good that God is trying to give you.
Or you might say, "I'm affirming health, but it looks like I'm going to get what everybody else in the office has." Again, you are canceling out the positive affirmation by saying that you don't really believe it. What you are really stating is that you believe in sickness instead of health.
So we need to keep our eye single to see the Truth of our Oneness with God and all good things. Jesus tells us that when we do this, our whole body will be full of light.
In flashes of illumination, the inspired have seen into the very center of reality and have brought back with them a distinct impression of what they have seen and felt. A glimpse of this Reality illumines the whole being with a flood of light. Every mystic has had this experience. Jesus was the greatest of all mystics; and once, at least, after a period of illumination, his face was so bright his followers could not look upon it.
In moments of deepest realization, the great mystics have sensed that One Life flows through ALL; and that all are some part of that Life. They have also seen Substance, a fine, white brilliant Stuff, forever falling into everything; a Substance indestructible and eternal. At times, the realization has been so complete that they have been actually blinded by the light.
And yet, this is not a physical light - but it is through the Power of Imagination that we are able to perceive it.
SEEING OUR PRAYERS AS WELL AS SAYING OUR PRAYERS
We need to "see" our prayers as well as "say" our prayers. We often consider prayer as words we read or say, but prayer may be even more in the form of images. We often don't realize how much of our thoughts and life are images. For instance, Jesus gave the following instructions about prayer:
(Matthew 6:6) But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.g
Here are a whole series of images that are certainly non-literal in nature. The "room" is an inner chamber deep in our own self. It is the inmost recesses of our being. It is sometimes referred to as the upper room or chamber, and the Psalmist poetically calls this inner sanctuary the "secret place of the Most High." It is here that we become aware of our oneness with God.
The "door" is an image of the closing out of distractions and trivia. As we enter the inner chamber by opening our consciousness to God, our mind is closed to worldly considerations ("having shut the door"). Frequently the mind is so filled with outer interests it is difficult to release them and think of God.
"Secret" is an image of solitude, intimacy, sharing privately. If we are persistent in releasing the outer interests, we learn the secret of spiritual concentration and abide in the secret place.
The prayer that we then make is in obedience to the rules of prayer, and we may rest in the promise that "your Father who sees in secret will reward you"
George Lamsa says that the Bible is two-thirds stories, images, parables, dreams, visions, allegories and tales.h Jesus spoke constantly in graphic images and stories. So, we image our prayers. We visualize. We picture. We feel.
Listen and feel the following images:
In Psalm 23 it says, "He leadeth me beside the still waters."i This is an image of the Divine Shepherd taking good care of us. This is repeated in (Revelation 7:16-17) "They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."j
These are fantastically comforting images that are used.
There is this image in
(Psalms 31:5) Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.k
So, we pray for others with this image, "I place my loved one in God's hands." This is a very safe and comforting image for us.
The words to this song can be a wonderful prayer image:
"I behold the Christ in you,
Here the life of God I see,
I can see a great peace, too,
I can see you whole and free."
And they are a reflection of what we read in (Romans 12:5) so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.l
"The light of God surrounds you" is a wonderful image and is also stated in (Revelation 22:5) And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light...m
When we "say a prayer," "hold a thought," "see the good," "behold the Christ," we see with the single eye; we are imaging our prayer. So, close your eyes and we will close with a prayer image:
Father, Mother, God;
I let go of old pictures of lack, disaster, needless suffering, failure, inferiority, depravity, retribution, and fear. I let go and let God.
I see with the eye of Spirit, and I behold Spirit at work in and through all.
My mental pictures abound with images of abundance, health, peace, joy, love - "my cup runneth over."
I see and feel myself claiming Thy good.
I am Thy image and imaging power.
dDr. Elmer Green biofeedback researcher & practitioner of the Menninger Foundation