Many of us see prayer as a way to make the universe (or God, etc.) bend to our will.
I know I used to look at it this way. I still do, at times. And I think that’s a totally human way to see the mechanism of prayer: as a cause that (hopefully) leads to an effect in outside circumstances.
However, in my recent studies, a new way of understanding prayer is emerging. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Prayer is an aftereffect of conscious alignment with the divine.
We’re not causing God to do anything.
In authentic prayer, we’re listening, not speaking.
God is the first mover. Not us.
Prayer is what happens as a result of consciously remembering the ever-present inner-space of God…
In my tradition, we study a modality of prayer known as affirmative prayer. This is a sort of ‘improvised’ (or ‘channeled’ depending on your woo-woo tolerance level) verbal proclamation spoken from the present tense rather than an asking/petitioning of the divine to give us a hand in the future.
Here’s a poster of an affirmative prayer that I have hanging in our house by ex-New Thought minister and spiritual counselor turned media mogul, Louise Hay (because I can have #lifegoals too):
I used to see affirmative prayer (which I saw as a big step up from the petitionary prayer I learned as a Catholic kid) as a way to cajole God into making whatever-it-was-I-was-praying-for happen.
But something in me knew that this wasn’t quite right. It knew that God isn’t something to be persuaded or manipulated by the fearful, insecure, ever-inadequate ego.
It’s becoming more and more so clear to me:
The words of a prayer are an effect of divinely-aligned consciousness. Not the cause of something that we want God to do for us.
By seeing us as controlling God through prayer, we have the tail wagging the dog. Sure, we can grab the tail and wag it as much as we want, but it won’t make the dog very happy.
And just as a wagging tail comes from a happy dog, the best prayer happens as a result of conscious connection with the divine.
In prayer, I drop into the space of divine flow. God is always Godding. But in prayer, I consciously become aware of this.
I do this by letting go of my incessant egoic thinking wherever it is in the moment, thus making the canvas of my awareness open for something bigger, grander, brighter and fuller to come through.
When it does, the perfect words come. These words arise FROM spirit and return to it through my expression.
This is the divine loop of prayer:
From God. To me. And then back to God.
And so it is.