Sunday, 28 February 2010

“Pray Without Ceasing”

This was what St Paul urged the followers of Jesus to do for the whole of their lives. On first glance it sounds a difficult, nay even an impossible task. But is it? Let us examine together what it really means, see if we can follow it and yet still live a normal life. First we need to ask ourselves, “What is meant by prayer?” For many it is a kind of ‘shopping list’ we place before God in the hope that he will provide us with everything on the list. Mostly such prayers are a reflection of our acquisitive natures and go no further than the person who utters them. A wonderful British medium of the past, Ena Twigg, told in her autobiography of a parable she gave in a trance communication called Aperçu of Prayer:

“She was shown people praying. Her teacher said, ‘That one is a mother praying for her sick child but she is not praying that God will restore him to health if it is God’s will; she is telling God to make him well. As God is perfect Law, if it is not in the scheme, the child cannot recover. The prayer does not reach very far. Although it is intense and it is pure, it is conditional.’
Then I saw a man dressed in a sack and he was praying and he said, ‘God, I am an unworthy part of you. But if I can be used, use me.’
And the man in the sack had a great light come down, it caught his prayer – and my teacher said, ‘That prayer has been accepted.’
Next we saw a mass of people in uniform, and they were devising weapons of destruction and praying those weapons would be used successfully – and darkness came over. And my teacher said, ‘Those prayers are not accepted, only by the dark forces. They have no validity and don’t reach out.’
Now we saw an old lady praying for her husband who was dying and she said, ‘He belongs to You God, and although I love him dearly, I give him to you.’
That prayer reached out and again, a great blaze of light came down and my teacher said to me, ‘Have you learned anything?’
I said, ‘Oh how much I have learned by looking at this thing, much more than I ever learned from my own prayers."

That is one way, a very interesting way, to examine prayer and it teaches us that unless a prayer praises God, comes from the heart AND is humble and selfless it will achieve little. Let us look at prayer in a slightly different way now:

Prayer is an attempt, often when all else has failed, to appeal to the munificence of the Creator to help in some form or another and is usually uttered in the hope of helping a friend or a loved one. The act of praying is an acknowledgement that there exists a higher power and that we understand the laws of that power imperfectly. In praying we are seeking from our hearts, an intervention using one of the laws we do not fully understand, to bring about an improvement in a health, economic or social condition that has resisted all treatment by human agencies. It is worth reflecting upon who we really are. Each one of us is a spirit that is part of the Great Spirit or Creator; the very one to whom we address our prayers. If we are indeed a part of this great power, it must surely follow that there is a way to access everything that stems from the Creator.

The same Jesus I referred to above was able to carry out quite remarkable healings, even to restore to life one that was apparently dead. He was also able to foresee what was going to happen. If like me, you believe Jesus was not a God but a man and furthermore that he told his followers, “Greater things than these shall you do,” we too should have the ability to become healers as he was. The answer is that we can if we model our lives upon the template Jesus provided for us. By following the Golden Rule; by placing the interests of others above our own; eschewing confrontation and instead ‘turning the other cheek’; by loving everyone, even those we don’t like; by trying to be pure in heart and stifling negative thoughts; by recognising that we have the power to make our inner light “so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Then will we be able to summon to our assistance those same powers that Jesus used.

Not only that but if we are true to the spirit within us and really try to do our best towards our Father God, our inner light will become our outer light and its brilliance will illuminate the way for those not yet able to understand the power they can wield if they are willing to apply themselves humbly and persistently. In other words we would become a walking prayer. Our life and the way we live it will become an act of praise to our Creator, a living, continuous prayer that would require no words to be spoken. This is the appeal that Paul was making to us all. “Live your life in the knowledge that you are an eternal spirit; try hard to live as a spirit in a physical world; let your light shine and you will be a walking, living prayer.”

The more of us that are able to live our lives in this way, the less influence will sickness have upon us all, for inner conflict, which is what produces most disease, will no longer exist.

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