What part, if any, should prayer play in my spiritual path?
Prayer is both more and less than what you think it is. That’s how it is in duality, folks. There are two sides to every question – and to every answer. The Rolling Stones were quite prophetic when they sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you nee…eed”. That is very connected to how prayer works. But, let’s start at the beginning. In the beginning you are One with God. At the end you are One with God. You are always One with God. Obviously, we need to find another place to begin. Going a little bit further down the imaginary timeline, we will say that in the beginning of this lifetime you were probably introduced to prayer in some way. Those of you who had any sort of Christian upbringing were likely taught prayers. You were to recite them regularly, especially if you were Catholic. You might say the “Our Father” or the “Hail Mary” or some other prayer you had memorized. Perhaps it was suggested that you pray to God or to Jesus and ask for what you wanted. Maybe you were told that all your prayers would be answered. If you did actually see results, congratulations are in order. If you did feel you had results, it was more likely from a personal request than from a rote prayer; that is, it was from a specific wish from you not from a form letter. These form prayers could not come from the heart; they were more of a duty, a ritual, which if performed correctly might win God’s approval, or at least cause him he to throw you a few crumbs. But, prayer does not operate that way.
Let me remind you that God doesn’t have a horse in this race. He isn’t even watching the race. God is unaware of this fiction you have created. It is not real; it is a dream. When you pray, you are praying to Spirit, who does have a relationship with your separated self and your dream. God doesn’t hear your prayers; for Him you are together in heaven and this world is non-existent. Even if you send prayers to God, Spirit receives them. If you sent letters to Santa Claus at the North Pole, it was Spirit who opened your request. All entreaties go into the same letter box. Spirit hears every prayer and always responds. Always, nothing is ignored. However, as the Stones remind us you will get what you need. If your prayer asks Spirit to do something specific for you which affects the chess pieces on planet earth in order to make things happen the way you would like them to, you might feel that your prayer is not answered. It is not Spirit’s job to help you to create heaven on earth. There can be no heaven in duality, and attempts to make heaven happen in the physical help to keep you rooted in the illusion. Spirit’s task is to help you wake up from the hell you are in. Therefore, the most powerful and effective prayer is one where you ask Spirit for help in waking up. This might take the form of asking for assistance in transforming fear, releasing judgment, anger, blame, or guilt – asking Spirit to take those things from you. It becomes even more confusing if you ask Spirit to do something for somebody else. Spirit would not likely grant such a specific request for your own problems or dreams, but your friend’s “problem” is none of your damn business. One reason that you don’t always get what you want is because you don’t know what you really want. Most of what you think you want is what your ego desires, but your ego wants to keep you stuck forever in a body in hell. When you are asking to make your world a little more heavenly, you are asking Spirit to make the world real for you so that you can stay asleep. Why would you want Spirit to be an enabler for your ego addiction? Fortunately, Spirit is clear about Its job and will not reinforce your illusions without good cause. Spirit’s job may be more to shake you than to placate you. Maybe your problem or perceiving your friend’s problem is just what you need to help you to awaken.
When I say that your prayer is always answered, I mean that Spirit gives you exactly what you need, exactly the perfect thing in this moment to help you open your true sight. The clearer you are with your intention to awaken, the more likely Spirit will be in not giving you what you think you want. The truth of what you want is to reclaim your rightful Sonship of unconditional love and innocence. That is your true desire, not the shiny new bicycle (or Mercedes Benz, Janis). If you take this message to heart you will begin to realize that everything that happens in every moment is the answer to your prayers. Whatever is happening is the gift from Spirit that most supports you in this precise moment. This is how it has always been working, but how often have you said no to what comes, expressing your dissatisfaction or even contempt for what is happening? Your mind is constantly asking for more of this and less of that, as if you actually knew what would lead you to infinite bliss. While you are in fear and resistance, Spirit is offering you pure gold. All you have to do is say thank you and roll with it. How easy is that? The most effective prayer, again, is not the one where you direct Spirit in how to change your earthly physical world and experience, but the one where you ask Spirit to please take these blinders away from your eyes and help you to forgive, not take things so seriously, release your attachment to thinking things have to be in a certain way, and let go of fear and guilt. This is what you deeply long for, but don’t know how to achieve – so you pray for help from Spirit. If you have no fear, no guilt, no projection, no blame, and no anger – then what is left? Just the real you and your love, that’s what you truly desire. Your ego mind may be screaming “bullshit”, to not listen to this, that you don’t really want to surrender all the nice things in life or not heal your physical ailments. Empty promises, the ego never fully delivers because the illusion and separation can never bring you peace and satisfaction (yes, you can’t get no…).
In the duality, in the ego world where you feel like you have to figure out your salvation, this is such an enormous task, and one that you can never succeed at. You never will. There is just frustration. We are back to Sisyphus and the mountain and the huge rock. That’s the job. You never get there. You may feel closer one day and then the next you find yourself back at the foot of the mountain. Fortunately, there is no mountain; there is no stone; there is no job for you to do. There is nothing to decide. Receive the gift from Spirit. If there is anything that blocks you from doing that, ask Spirit to lift it away. You don’t have to do anything; just ask Spirit to do the heavy lifting. You don’t have to earn or deserve anything; you don’t have to figure it out. Ask and you shall receive, but ask for what you truly want; don’t sell yourself short. But even if you ask for what you don’t truly want, you’ll find out soon enough because you will likely get something else, or you will actually get just what you asked for and find it brings no lasting satisfaction. What you ask for is not as important as is receiving what you get. If you don’t know what to make of what you receive, again ask for support in accepting.
You don’t have to figure out what to do with today because you have already prayed for Spirit to bring you what is of value. All you have to do is open your eyes and go with whatever is presented into your moment. You don’t have to know why. It doesn’t matter. Understanding will come when the time is right. Not understanding makes it no less perfect. You have only one job today and that is to receive what Spirit brings. Your only prayer is that Spirit lifts any resistance from you. You may go through a period of insanity before the resistance lifts. Ego will not let go without a fight. You will only go through that “death” once. The only other choice is to go back to the struggle of living in hell on earth, returning to being Sisyphus in the attempt to reach the unreachable. It has been said many times to “let go and let God”. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “let go and let Spirit”. As long as duality exists for you there is truly no space for God, but the linking presence of Spirit is always there. A reason that we talk about the importance of prayer, even though Spirit is always bringing you the perfect thing, is that it can help you overcome your feelings of hopelessness and helplessness to feel that there is someone out there listening and responding to you. Yes, Spirit is supporting you whether you ask or not, but your active involvement nurtures a sense of Oneness and a release from the separation that all humans feel. Beginning to feel that a dialog with Spirit exists is enormously reinforcing. What develops is that you begin to move way beyond ego needs into playfulness with Spirit and the universe. As you welcome what is presented you find what it is that you are going to play with today and it will be fun. Enjoy!