Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why Pray?

Unity principles tell us that
1. There is only one Presence and one Power active as the universe and as my life and it is good.
2. We are individualized expressions of this One Presence and therefore we are inherently good.

One Presence – all Good. And we are One with it. If we really believed that and practiced that – how would we pray?

The activity of prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have for our spiritual journeys. And it is a tool – something real that we can put our hands and minds on. We are not just learning stuff for the sake of learning, so we can say “I know this or that”. All up here, in our heads. No, it has to be applicable in our everyday lives. There is not a test we are studying for – it is our lives – our very existence, we are talking about, so let’s keep it real.

You know – for such a small word ‘one’ is a pretty amazing concept to comprehend. Let’s explore this concept of ‘one’, since it is so intimately linked with the activity of prayer.

In the past I might have said “I am a channel of God’s good. God is connected to me. I am a conduit of the divine”. I have used these analogies to get more of that feeling of my closeness with Spirit.

But if you think very carefully about these terms – they still imply a separation. Not one-ness.

Picture a channel – a conduit – a connecting point. Can you see how there is the ‘that’ and there is ‘us’. These things are separate. One here and the other here.

I love what Eric Butterworth, Unity minister and author, says: “God is not in us like a raisin in a bun.”

Take a bun. What is the relationship of the baking powder and the flour once the bun is mixed up and baked? Well, it’s a little hard to describe because it’s really all ‘one’ thing at that point. When you look at the bun you cannot see the baking powder, the salt, the milk. It’s all one.

If Divine Mind is omniscience – meaning all-knowing – then why would I even need to pray? I do sometimes enjoy my image of pulling on God’s sleeve, saying: “God, didn’t you notice this – over here? – I am sure you would do something about it – you were probably busy looking the other way”.

If we really believed that God is omnipresence – meaning everywhere, all the time - then we would know that Spirit is right here, right now. Why pray?

We pray because we are human beings as well as spiritual beings. Because sometimes there is a part of me that thinks: “God – how could you let that happen – if you are so all-powerful?” When I see the suffering and the pain of the world and in my world, and it is easy to turn to the highest Power I know and shake my fist. It is not wrong for me to think that way.

And in those moments I am aware that I am having a human experience. It’s OK. It’s not wrong. I am acting out of my human-ness.

If we knew that Spirit is only good and we are one with that ‘only good’ then we would understand that in Truth there are no tests, no need to earn anything, no bargaining, no deals, no making us wait.

These ways of looking at prayer (bargaining, asking, begging, waiting) are expressions of the thinking that God is somewhere out there, judging us and doling out the goodies, if we deserve it. Again, it’s not that those thoughts do not at times cross our minds – as long as we are aware that we are giving power to a model that is probably not the most supportive and helpful for us.

So why do we pray?

Prayer is consciousness raising - not problem solving.

We pray to change ourselves. We pray to harmonize our minds with God Mind. We pray to shift our awareness from what we see to what we know. We pray to feel Loving Spirit – right in here, right in this place. We pray to access all the good that is already us.

Prayer is a way of life - an attitude of willingness to align our consciousness to a higher level.It is not thinking about Divine Mind - it is about realizing our oneness with Divine Mind. Prayer is extending our awareness of the Oneness that already is.

And in that light how do we pray? How do we unite our hearts and minds in this context of One-ness with Spirit? Here are five steps you can experiment with.
• Quiet - become still, remembering oneness
• Release your thoughts of anxiety, worry, concern – hard to see the Light when we are putting up a wall around us.
• See others in the same awareness – whole. Our attention is on the highest knowing we have.
• Remain open and receptive – we do not know the best outcome! We are not asking for anything. That is not our job – our job is to feel our one-ness with God.
• Gratitude – thank you for the good we see and the good we know is there, but do not see.

Willingness is the key to beginning. Prayer is a spiritual practice. Like learning to ride a bicycle. That means the more we do it the better results we get.

And this is really important – the ‘better’ is not about the outcome. Better does not mean quicker answers. “Better’ does not mean we are more deserving.

Better is: finding a still place in you, opening your heart and mind to the divine within you, being aware of the activity of the divine – as you. Perhaps some thought or idea will come to you – perhaps not. “Better’ is being able to say thank you even when we do not see anything different.

We can pray any time in any place. We are human beings – we have concerns, we worry about stuff. That’s not wrong. But if we want to shift the energy around what is on our minds and hearts, we can always use prayer for a fuller experience of what is possible.

A little Halloween fun.........
Two little neighbor girls about the same age, one Christian and one Jewish, were constant companions. After one Easter holiday, the grandfather of the Christian girl asked her what her friend had received for Easter. The girl looked at her grandfather in surprise, and said, “But Grandpa, you should know that Becky is Jewish and she wouldn’t get anything for Easter.” Then she went on to explain patiently, “You see, I’m Easter and she’s Passover. I’m Christian and she’s Hanukkah.” Then with a big smile, she added, “but I’m really glad that both of us are Halloween.”