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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Is Prayer?

When many of us contemplate the action of prayer, we might think of asking or begging God to give us something that we feel we don't already have. Our seeming lack may include an absence of love, supply, health, freedom, joy....etc. When we pray or ask God for essence we are believing that we don't already have access to it. If God is ALL and we live and move and have our being in God...then in reality we are already in the presence of anything or everything that we would ever need for our progress and fullfillment. This type of prayer(the prayer of petition) would be assuming that God is intentionally withholding "good" from us....or that God must not realize what we need. We are informing the All-Knowing of what we think we need.

I don't think that in every instance that the Bible can be taken literally. It was wriiten by mortal men from different cultures and times. However, I do believe that many parts of the Bible were written through Divine inspiration. If you are a seeker of God or Spirit, you can just sense the beauty and timeless Truths put forth in certain parts of the Bible. Another test as to whether the psalms, parables, healings...etc have real merit is to be able to discover that when the teachings are put into practice that they actually work or bring forth fruit. Many many people through the ages have had answers to prayer. Often these answers to prayer occur in such a manner that human or mortal solutions alone could not have brought forth the resulting harmony.

Why then do we seem to experience inharmony of different sorts? Are we praying amiss or are we forgetting to Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God? Jesus reminds us that "Your Father knoweth what ye have need of before ye ask Him." If this is so, why are so many people in need of so many different things? I'd like to include a few passages from the Bible relating to this subject. There have been and continue to be other Divinely inspired messengers through the ages, however, the Bible is what I am more familiar with so this is where I will take my examples from.

Some words of wisdom from Jesus....verses from the book of Matthew. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and dust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."     AND......

"Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God and His righteousness; And All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You."

In Luke, chapter 11 we find "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." However, in the fourth chapter of James it says "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." In other words we needn't ask for material things. They will be added unto us when we seek God/Spirit first. It's really so simple but we do need true desire and some trust to carry this out

After reading books by Joel Goldsmith I have come to see just how vital and central those statements are to our spiritual progress , peace and harmony. He has written a whole book on the theme of "Practicing the Presence"
Practicing the Presence: The Inspirational Guide to Regaining Meaning and a Sense of Purpose in Your Life

Today I was reading his book
Spiritual Discernment: The Healing Consciousness (Letters) and found these words which are what focused me on this subject this morning. "Prayer is an atmosphere. It is an atmosphere of conciousness, and atmosphere of thought, an atmosphere of the soul, and we must dwell in that atmosphere.....Paul called it praying without ceasing; but to say "Pray without ceasing', may impart to us, through our false sense of prayer, the idea that we must be continuously talking to God, asking of God , or affirming. Our sense of prayer without ceasing will not be that. Our prayer without ceasing will  be the living in an atmosphere of prayer, living in the continuous realization of God's presence as an unfolding Presence, as well as an unfolding life of joy and peace."

One of the main points in all of Joel's writings are that we must dwell in the Secret place of the Most High (91 Psalm) as continually as we can and that dwelling in this place or conciousness of "God with us"...will reveal the harmony in our lives. In the beginning it is not easy to get into this state of conciousness....never mind to stay in it. But it can certainly be accomplished by anyone. All it takes is time, practice and sincere desire to know God and to feel or live in God's presence. When this is our main goal of experience and live in God's presence...and to express God's goodness and love to others....then the rest WILL be added unto proportion to our " seeking the  understanding and realization of the everpresence of God. I have seen this "law" work in my own life. When I take time to be still and listen, read and pray for guidance and understanding....everything else seems to just flow. In contrast, when I push or shove to try and do my own will, nothing pieces together right and things just seem disjointed.

After Jesus healed the lepers, the Pharisees demanded to know when the kingdom of heaven or God would come. Jesus replied "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say,Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you." reality we are already one with God and we don't have to go anywhere to seek God's presence. All we have to do...right where we to be still and to "Know that I am God" The "I" of God is within us, ready to guard and guide. Our only task is to be still, to listen with sincere desire and then to follow the divine leadings we recieve. Sometimes it takes practice to discern Spirit's guidance from our own subconcious desires but as the old saying goes....practice makes perfect. That's why I really appreciate the particular title of Joel Goldsmith's book....."Practicing The Presence"

Here are a few quotes by Mary Baker Eddy
"Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it."

"God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite mind of anything He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept? The unspoken desire does bring us nearer the source of all existence and blessedness. Asking God to be God is a vain repetition. God is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;" He who is immutably right will do right without being reminded of his province. The wisdom of man is not sufficient to warrant him in advising God."

"Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to recieve His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation."

If you have found no comfort or results from prayer, perhaps thinking of prayer more along these lines will  help to reveal surer and more definite answers.

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