A prayer of release

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Dear God, 
none of it 
is mine to keep.

Please, take it all.

I sit here 
hands open 
and gazing towards you.

Take it, dear Divine.
Leave none of it sullied by my fumbling hands, 
shaking knees, 
or cracking voice.

Take all of it up into you, dear Lord.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
I’ve failed in so many ways.

However, I know 
that your love is branded on my soul
and your mercy and grace,
inescapable.

I turn to recognize
you now, 
dear Lord.

I breathe a sigh of relief
as my shoulders are lightened.

No matter how deeply my sins have cut,
I know that all is redeemed
in you.

Please, God 
may your guiding hands 
direct my trembling ones

I hold this life, 
our shared one, 
in deep reverence.

May I be assured 
that none of this has been affected 
by my small, 
false 
self
But is rather part of a larger sphere
a more expansive realm
that remains untarnished by my pettiness and fear.

Oh lord, I pray
that you take it all

And may I be open 
to your healing and grace

Amen.


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Stop deciding on things

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger

Not all the time. I mean, I highly suggest you decide to stop when the light turns red.

But just for a little while — 20 minutes in a day — stop deciding on things.

This is contemplation. When we sit and as soon as we notice that decision muscle working, we stop and… Well, we just stop. We rest our decision muscle. And when we do, something magical happens.

Make it a daily practice to consciously rest your decision muscle for a little while.

This is when a certain operating system of sorts shuts off within — the one that only runs programs based on ‘either/or’ commands. It’s binary. On or off. Black or white. Green or red (again, this one is nice when you’re driving). When this operating system is active, we squint through life. We constantly unknowingly parse the world in front of us.

And when that operating is turned off, I notice a new one booting up in its place. One that gives me a wider view. One that’s based on ‘both/and’ commands. It’s an expansive one that opens up and holds opposing things in the same place without having to obliterate one of them.

Like my improv brethren, it says, “Yes, and…”

What you’ll find is, the decision muscle doesn’t know how to rest. We’ve trained it since early childhood to stay flexed and active. As you sit there, if you’re like me, you find yourself deciding on the banalest minutiae of life. Not only that, but it blows these decisions up like they’re life or death.

But, no. This is your sacred space. You’re only here for 20 minutes. This is not the time to make decisions. You have 15 hours and 40 minutes (if you get 8 hours of sleep) to do that. Not now.

Relax that decision muscle. This is the small window of time you’ve set aside for release, not gathering. It’s apophatic, not kataphatic. It’s focus is on surrender, not obtaining.

Let that decision muscle rest and see anew.

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An adult bedtime prayer

Photo by Tamar Waskey on Unsplash

I’ve had a hard time sleeping lately.

This is a typical situation for me. I go in and out of cycles of unrest as my head hits the pillow.

It’s a huge bummer because I just had a good four or five-month run of good sleep. Now, things seem to be shifting.

You might know how it goes: You feel tired, but as soon as you shut your eyes — bam. The gears start grinding as you try to downshift into unconsciousness.

I don’t have much to be stressed about, but I get stressed anyways. It’s as if my mind finds the mental state between being awake and asleep as fertile ground to conjure the demons from the shadows.

I have so much to do.
What will this client think of my work?
What kind of world will my daughter have to grow up in?
Does my wife really still like me after twelve years together? 
I’m going to get old and die soon.

Ugh — all the feels as the head hits the pillow...

Sometimes, the stress isn’t even definable. It’s just a low murmur of frantic energy bursting out of the surface of my awareness.

Well, the other night, I’d had it. Here’s a prayer I said as loudly as I could in my head (paraphrased, of course)…

Dear God. Hey. It’s been great offloading my inner baggage to you during my morning meditation time. Thanks so much. If you’re cool with it — and you have some more room — I’d like to do that again now. All this shit I’m stacking on my shoulders is just too much. All these demons I’m conjuring in my head right now — will you just make them vanish?

I’m not getting a ‘no’ from you right now, so I’m just gonna go ahead and hand it over.

Here, God. Fucking take it all. Please. As I’m sleeping, go ahead and do what you want with it. I trust that you know what to shitcan and what to keep. I know by your track record that you’re better at sorting it out for me than I am for myself.

When I wake up, I promise I’ll be open for the role you assign me to play in regards to these things — if any. But for now, I’m shrugging them all off for 6 or 7 hours. And maybe eternity.

Thanks again.

Oh, right… 
Amen.

Some might be offended by a prayer like this. But please know that the divine is so much bigger than any sensitive, petty, easily offended ego.

If you can’t be real with God, you’re not going to be real with anyone else. More importantly, you’re not going to be real with yourself.

Go ahead and pray away.

Uncensored.

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A layman’s introduction to centering prayer

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with meditation (with the scales tipping much toward the hate side). I’ve tried following my breath, focusing on mantras, visualization, and more.

Every time, it’s the same cycle: Three days of enthusiasm followed by a botched session and then a missed session and finally a feeling of utter failure and the realization of how non-spiritual I am.

I remember getting so frustrated as thoughts consumed my brain space while meditating. Here I was thinking about how much I used to like Hot Pockets when I should have been inching towards nirvana. Get. Out. Of. My. Head. Gaaah!!

But there’s something about quietude that draws me toward it. And being as big of a fanboy of Richard Rohr as I am made me look up Contemplative/Centering Prayer to see what it’s all about.

That’s when I found some videos and books by another likable monk, Thomas Keating, who seems to be the go-to guy when it comes to all things about Centering Prayer.

Now, just to set the tone up front, I don’t intend for this post to be a comprehensive guide but merely my personal introduction and beginner-level account of doing it this last year or so.

So, what is Contemplative Prayer?

According to Keating’s Contemplative Outreach, here’s how they define* Contemplative Prayer…

Centering Prayer is a receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.

I like to put it this way… As for most of us, when we think of prayer, we think about petitionary prayer. This is when we ask for things. We’re doing the talking and God (or whatever you call it — I’ll be using the G-word in this post), we imagine, is doing the listening.

There’s also confessionary prayer where we say out loud all the stuff we feel bad for and ask for forgiveness. Again, we’re doing the talking.

Centering Prayer, on the other hand, is where we do the listening and we invite God to do the talking. This is very hard for us, especially in our westernized culture of Christianity that’s based on thinking, talking, expressing, holy rolling, and pontificating. We don’t do very well just sitting there in long stretches of silence wrestling with layer upon layer of internal chatter waiting to be spoken to by something that we’re not really even sure how to define (it’s not like we get a call or a text or anything).

But this is why I like it. Because it’s hard. In fact, as you’ll soon see, it’s supposed to be hard. If it’s not hard, you’re likely not doing it. I found this encouraging. Unlike the previous types of meditation where I felt like a failure for not ‘doing it right’, with this, I feel like I’m on track due to how bad I suck at it. More on this soon…

Why do Centering Prayer?

After doing it fairly regularly (though not daily as I’d like to) for a year or so, here’s what I’ve gotten out of it:

To tell you the truth, I don’t often feel awesome when I’m doing it. I feel like a stumbling, bumbling westerner trying to meditate (which I am). It’s AFTERWARDS that I notice the ‘effects’ of it during my daily life.

Keating says that what happens is our value systems slowly and silently get replaced with God’s. As crazy as this sounds, it’s exactly what I’m experiencing to be true. I find my values shifting and strengthening in more healthy directions. I find myself doing things that the previous me would have never done. I hold my life more gently. I feel more peaceful and present with people I was previously nervous around.

Essentially, I feel as though something else (God?) is directing my life. Like she’s rewiring things even I didn’t know needed to be rewired. This is so different (and, in my opinion, far more refreshing) than the popular visualization type meditation where we’re trying to make certain things happen.

In Centering Prayer, as you’ll soon see, all we’re doing is giving things up. Letting them go. When something bright and shiny that we want comes into awareness — that new client, new car, new zip code, new golf swing, new bank balance, etc. — we return to the silence (via our ‘sacred word’ as you’ll soon see) and let it go. We give it up to the ‘Lawd (sorry, preaching over here).

So, how do you do Centering Prayer, you may be asking? Well, you can take an hour or so to watch these videos, but since you’re reading this, I’ll describe the bare-bones guidelines below as they’re quite simple (however, with most simple-but-powerful things, there’s a profound underlying depth and complexity to them that can be discussed forever)…

Oh, a quick disclaimer is appropriate here. If you’re wondering if you have to be religious or Christian in order to do this, the answer is no. If you dig mindfulness of any sort and are at least open to a smattering of Christian language and framing, anyone can do this regardless of religion or non-religion. I mean, if you want to.

Guidelines for Centering Prayer

Know that these are called guidelines for a reason. They’re not hard-and-fast rules. Centering prayer is a relationship you’re entering with the divine, not a technique. These guidelines are meant to be held loosely and danced with.

Ready to dance? Okay, here we go…

Before anything: Sit your ass down (for 25 minutes)

If you can get your ass into a sitting position and a timer set for 25 minutes, you’re already winning. I bought a meditation cushion, but your couch, favorite chair, 5-gallon bucket, or park bench is fine. Before I jump into details, here’s a quick outline of how I lay my session out:

  1. First 2 minutes: Get settled, itch my nose a bunch, do some deep breathing, and whatever else I need to do to get mo’ still.
  2. Next 20 minutes: Meditate/pray (which we’ll get into below)
  3. Final 2–3 minutes: Come back into the room and reflect. I say the ‘Our Father’ really slowly for a couple minutes, but you can do whatever.

Guideline 1 (Opening):

Before you start, you’ll want to choose a ‘sacred word’. This word acts as the anchoring symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within you.

Now, this isn’t a chant. We don’t repeat it over and over again. Just when we catch ourselves getting tangled up in our thinking.

When you bring your mind to your sacred word during prayer, you express your intention to be in the presence. You yield to it. We’re becoming conscious of the divine presence that moves in us and has always been doing so as we’ve been focusing on other seemingly more important things (not so much).

Your sacred word should consist of 1 or 2 (or 3) syllables that you feel comfy with and that express your intention to be with God during this time and open to the divine action.

Suggestions: One of the sacred names of God, Jesus, or Mary (Lord, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Jesu, Chira, or Jeshua) are fine. Amen is a good go-to. Even secular words like Love, Yes, or Peace are fine if the more religious words are too loaded for you.

It doesn’t really matter what word it is. You make the word sacred, not its inherent meaning. Your will/intention sacralizes this sound as an appropriate expression of your intention to be open to the movement of the divine within you.

When you settle on a word, stick with it the entire time (it’s even nice to stay with it for days, weeks, or more so it sews itself into your psyche).

Just so you know, if there is a goal here, it’s to stop thinking (which is tricky because if you stay focused on that goal while praying, you’ll thereby be thinking, which defeats your purpose). This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have thoughts. You’ll definitely have thoughts, you just won’t be thinking about them (go ahead and read this sentence again).

Does your brain hurt yet? Mine too. Let’s move on…

Guideline 2: Consent

Sitting comfortably with eyes closed and with your sacred word at the ready, briefly and silently introduce your sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.

You’ll sit comfortably so you won’t have to think about how uncomfortable your body is. You’ll close your eyes (both inner and outer) to let go of your interior/exterior worlds (we’re getting woo-woo here, you still with me?).

Don’t get hung up on the meaning of your sacred word. If it’s too emotionally charged, pick another one. The more neutral, the better.

You’re knocking on the door here, so to speak. But you’re not the one to open it. It’s locked from the inside and you’re on the outside. Your only role is to wait.

Guideline 3: Return

If you’re like me, about 2.765 seconds into your Centering Prayer session, you’ll become distracted and engaged in a thought. This is my favorite part of this form of prayer/meditation. When this happened with the other types of meditation I tried, I’d realize I was doing it wrong. I took on a violent attitude towards my thinking and struggled hard against them so as to keep them from coming up. As you know, this is futile and only leads to more thinking.

But here in Centering Prayer, when we find ourselves engaged in thinking, we see it as a divine opportunity. An opportunity to return to our sacred word and thereby giving consent to the action of the divine presence within.

Take note here that the sacred word isn’t meant to forcefully stop your thinking. It’s not a bulldozer. This is a totally nonviolent prayer. Thoughts are integral to this process because they’re coming from your unconscious. The emergence of them is a necessary part of the healing process. As Keating would put it, by allowing thoughts to surface, they can be healed by the holy spirit. Centering prayer involves the whole of life, not just the blissed-out, enlightened ones. All of it can, will, and should show up while you’re in prayer.

Return to the sacred word with the intention of consenting to the silence within and smile as they wander out of consciousness.

It’s like you’re talking to a friend when you hear a car wreck outside. You head to the window and stare at the wreckage for a minute (it was only a fender bender), and now the appropriate thing to do is turn your attention back to your friend that you’re having a sacred conversation with.

Guideline 4: Closing

At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. You could say the Our Father really slowly if you’re into that kind of thing — it’s what I do. Or you could recite a favorite poem, quote, or even just sit there as you slowly come back into the room.

Now, try it yourself

Seriously, anyone can do this form of prayer. That’s why I like it so much. It doesn’t depend on me being a super spiritual and mindful person (which I’m truly not even though I seem like it on the internet).

All it depends on is the notion that God (who/whatever this is) swirling around inside you (as well as each and every one of us) and if we continually submit to its presence and action, we soon find that life takes on a new level of softness, quietude, brilliance, and grace that seems foreign to our previous life.

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You’re on the way

You,
the thing I want
that I desire
that I obsess over…

I want to acquire you
so my ego sets out to get you
to fight for you
reach for you
stretch for you.

And along the way
you change.

You morph from a divine pull
into a man-made, forced human object.

From an effortless and infinite starting point
to an impossible goal.

The more I willfully pursue you
and especially when I get you
the less I want you 
and the more frustrated 
and disappointed
I grow.

What if all the forcing I’m doing
is unnecessary?

What if the fact
that I’m drawn to you
is a notice from life
that you’re already here

and if I can just stop striving for you
you’ll effortlessly show up 
and express through me
in a number of beautifully infinite
and spontaneous ways?

What if all the shit
I put myself through
to get to you
only keeps you
buried?

What if the key was to 
fall 
back 
into you…

and let you take me?

Can I surrender enough
for your magic to happen?

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Prayer as an effect

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

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.

Meditation

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.
Forevermore.

And so it is.


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How I pray these days

Photo by Alina Sofia on Unsplash

Prayer has been a big part of my life lately. Which is strange. Because for a very long time, it wasn’t. At all.

Being raised Catholic, I had my token prayers growing up. My mom and I would say them together before bed on our knees. Soon, I even said them by myself.

It was a routine. I didn’t really have a reason for saying my prayers. I just… did. And it was nice. A couple steps above meh. Then I got older. Fell away from the church. And stopped praying altogether for about a decade.

In the early 2000’s, I got into progressive spirituality. My gateway drug was Wayne Dyer. I really enjoyed what he and others like him said about prayer and meditation, but I still didn’t really practice it.

I even watched The Secret when it came out (c’mon now, don’t tell me you didn’t secretly watch The Secret too…). They talked about the whole Law of Attraction thing. Wow, this opened my eyes to a new kind of prayer. A prayer where I wished really really hard for things and they were to show up. Right?!

Low and behold, some things DID show up. Hey, this stuff works! But then a couple really big things didn’t show up. In fact, they got worse. I felt let down by the whole Secret thing. So I went back in non-praying limbo (besides the occasional dabble here and there) for about another decade.

Where I am today

When I started divinity school, the first step, I learned, was to get my spiritual practitioner license (which I’m currently working on). Another word for ‘spiritual practitioner’ is ‘prayer practitioner’ (talk about the least marketable title in this day and age, ever).

Essentially, I’m studying the ancient art of prayer. Prayer for a purpose. Prayer for oneself and others. Not in praying to an outside God. But to the eternally loving, whole, joyous, radiant, [insert positive quality here] presence within all of us, regardless of our creed.

I mentioned the power of prayer the other day in an article (click here to read it) and how it transformed a very important meeting I had with my mentor. I told how, before we got into the heart of the conversation, we ‘prayed in’ together, just like we always do when we chat. I mentioned the automatic heightening of consciousness that occurs in awareness when we do this.

Well, I got a few emails and responses asking me to explain how I pray. So, as much as I resist prescriptive posts, I figured I’ll share the type of prayer I’m studying with you…

Affirmative Prayer

Affirmative prayer is a declaration of the spoken word that’s intended to raise us above the level of our problems and into the presence of the divine.

Have I gotten woo-woo enough for you yet? 
No? 
Good, we’re just getting started here…

This kind of prayer can take many forms. I’m currently learning Affirmative Prayer 101, which is what I’ll share here, but I’ve been told of people who pray without using words. This is Jedi-level stuff and I’m not there yet, but I believe in its power. Because here’s the thing…

Effective prayer isn’t about the words, it’s about the level of consciousness the words emerge from. No words are needed to get there (they just help)…

Rather than begging or beseeching a God, this method involves connecting with the spirit of God within (or source, Mind, oneness, or whatever you want to call it) and asserting a statement from a raised consciousness regarding what it is you’re praying about.

So, instead of saying…

God, please bring me a ton of money to pay my bills.

You say something like…

As I realize the God within, I now know that I am an inseparable individualized expression of the life, wholeness, vitality, and abundance that flows through me right now.

Feels more… real, right? More actionable. 
Less like you’re asking Santa Claus for something.

If we were to take this up a level (which we might as well do), in my tradition, there’s a 5-step process to affirmative prayer which I’ll share with you here…

1. Recognition (God Is)

In this beginning part of the prayer, we’re bringing our full attention to God (I like to call it Source, but we’ll stick with ‘God’ here). We let the small ego part of our awareness fall away and embrace the divine intelligence within all things.

It goes something like this…

(In any of these examples, you can, of course, tweak and expand them however you want according to who/what you’re praying for, etc.):

“I know that there is only One Power in the Universe. This loving, creative principle is [insert positive quality here], and [another positive quality]…”

2. Unification ( I am)

In this next part of the affirmative prayer, we’re declaring that we’re inseparable from this divine presence. We are one with it. We are it. It can never be absent from us, no matter how much we grow ignorant of it…

“I know that I am one with God, made in the image and likeness of God. What I know to be true of God, I know to be true of me. Therefore, I am an individualized expression of [quality], [quality], and [quality]…”

3. Realization (Speaking into reality your desired good)

This is where the prayer gets personal. This is The Secret/Law of Attraction type stuff without the blatant consumerist materialism.

As humans, we are individual, customized versions of the divine presence of God. We bring heaven to earth (mind you, in my tradition, these are not geographical locations but states of consciousness) in our very own specific way. That’s what we’re bringing to light here…

“I now speak my Word to know and accept that I am [insert quality here]. I let go of any beliefs that are contrary to this and know that from this day forward, my experience is new. I am [quality]. I have [thing that comes forth from said quality]...”

4. Thanksgiving (Grateful Acceptance)

This is the sweet spot. It’s where we personally start to let things go and step into the grace of the divine. Pure gratitude is one of the highest states of consciousness we can find ourselves in and it’s what we’re creating the space for here…

“I am grateful that the Word I have spoken is being acted upon right now. I give thanks for the life-affirming nature of Source.”

5. Release (Letting go, let God)

We have the belief that, if the ego is grasping onto something, by its nature, it sabotages it. So in this final part of the prayer, we’re letting it go. We’re releasing the ego’s grasp and trust-falling into this higher intelligence as it takes over and does what it will. This part is pretty simple and punchy…

“I release this Word into God knowing it is done. And so it is.”

“And so it is.”

Those four words, right there, are some of the most powerful I’ve experienced. When you end the prayer with a strong and so it is, you feel complete. You feel amazing. You come out of the prayer with a heightened awareness. Suddenly, that weight you were carrying on your shoulders is gone and it’s been replaced with a fullness of spirit that makes you want to go out and create.

Try this for someone you love going through stuff of their own. Even if they’re not in your presence, this kind of prayer knows no time and space. It ripples throughout the consciousness we’re all united in and… shifts things.

So this is it. This is how I pray. Play with it. Customize it. Use it. Or scrap it and pretend this never happened…

And so it is.


Also… If you’re enjoying my work and would like to continue the conversation with me in the context of your life/work, click here to explore private coaching with me.

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Say hello on Instagram (the only other social media platform I actually like). 📸

From quasi-lying to authenticity: A natural creative progression

Image: Cater Yang

As part of my Spiritual Practitioner training (which is the first part of my ministerial training), I’m learning how to pray. Out loud. In front of people. Which is terrifying for me.

See, I’m a writer. I can take all the time I want to say something in writing. I can write it, think of new things in the shower, edit throughout the day, and refine it over weeks, months, or years if I want to. When I put it out to the world, it’s been polished. At least a little.

With speaking, you can’t take those words back. You can’t edit them. Once they’ve left the lips, they’re out there forever.

But this is prayer. I’ve never really prayed out loud before now. We never even said Grace before dinner when I was growing up. Prayer is something I’ve always done internally. At first, I’d recite to myself the usual Catholic prayers. Later in life, prayer became a silent, wordless conjuring of a certain state of being. A focused inner-awareness of aligning with Source more along the lines of meditation.

The kind of prayer that I’m learning now (called affirmative prayer) is more like an improvised, customized, poeticized form of spoken word. When sitting in the midst of someone who’s been doing this for years, it’s a beautiful, palpable, soul-shifting experience to behold.

However, for an introverted-leaning writer like myself, it’s proving to be a challenge. I’m putting in my hours with my mentor and every time is getting better. More natural. More authentic.

But at first, I sounded exactly like Ben Stiller saying grace at the table in Meet the Parents (to refresh your memory or for anyone who hasn’t seen the scene, click here, you can thank me later).

A horrifying experience, indeed.

Seth Godin nailed it in his blog post the other day. He said that, when we’re on the spot, we do many of the things most people associate with lying. We sweat, stutter, talk too fast, avoid eye contact, etc.

This is because, when we try something new, we’re almost always on the spot. Whether it’s writing, speaking, praying, trying a new sport, talking to someone new, etc., at first, it feels like we’re faking it because, in a way, we are.

We emulate at first. Emulation is a (mostly harmless) form of lying. We’re modeling those that inspire us. This is why we exude these traits.

It’s almost as if we’re automatically inauthentic at first. It’s awkward. We stumble through. We blush. Our palms get sweaty. Our hearts race.

But with practice, if our intentions are pure, we kick the habits that make us feel and look like we’re lying. We learn to calm our nerves, face our fears, and trample down our hesitations. We stop shouting into the microphone and, instead, we slow down, and make eye contact. We create our own literary mechanisms and idiosyncrasies.

We connect with our audience once we make it past the beginner’s stress and connect with ourselves.

That said, this process still really sucks. In a good way, of course:)


P.S. If you’re looking to connect with an audience of your own, I’m hosting a free online training at noon PST on Friday titled: Authentic Audience Building Through Medium. If you care to join in, click here. (If you can’t make the live training, I’ll email you a recording a day or two later.)


Jonas writes short daily stories and preachments on the daily here in Higher Thoughts. Get one to enjoy with your coffee every morning by subscribing below.

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The request line

Image: Bart Anestin

When I was a kid, I was taught that prayer was like a spiritual request line to God. Every night, I’d fold my hands and dial in.

And I was disappointed time and time again…

Even when I learned about affirmative prayer years ago, I kept this model in mind. I was just dialing them in differently through affirmation rather than supplication.

Although this seemed to work better, the fact remained that I was often let down.

It’s very disappointing seeing prayer this way. Many of us give up after an upset or two from the ‘man upstairs’ we believed would be answering our call…

I see now that many of us have it backwards.

We need to flip the script.

You and I are the ones who are supposed to be answering the request line. Not the other way around.

We are the ones who need to be tapped in and turned on to the signal from the Divine. We are the ones whose job it is to answer the phone.

The problem isn’t God, the problem is we’ve been trained wrong. We were trained as callers when we should have been trained as operators.

This surmises a question or two…

How do we pick up the phone?

How do we know what Source is requesting through us?

The answer lies in yet another set of questions…

What makes your soul sing?

What lifts your spirits?

This is sacred. Not to be taken for granted.

It’s also not a given. The things that call to me may make you cringe.

No, I’m not talking about eating frozen dinners or trolling on Facebook. I’m not talking about power-hungry, fear-driven, insecure, ego-based ways (you can’t seriously say you’re vibrating at high levels when you’re hell-bent on destruction, no matter how ‘good’ it feels kicking the dog). These might make your small identity feel satiated for a short while, but we both know what the emotional aftermath is of these things…

I’m talking about ways you can look back on tomorrow and in four years from now with a smile, not teeth-gnashing regret. I’m talking about ways that serve, give, love and bring harmony with the world in and around you.

This is what prayer brings us to. When we pray affirmatively, we tune in with God’s request, not the other way around.

This is the signal.

Well… 
You gonna pick it up?


Jonas writes short daily stories and preachments on the daily here in Higher Thoughts. Get one to enjoy with your coffee every morning by subscribing below.

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Who art in heaven

Part two of the Lord’s Prayer series

Image: Alphacolor 13

Moving on to the second line in the Lord’s Prayer, we read, “Who art in heaven.”

If the nature of God is of Heaven, we can deduce that man is of Earth. We can even reckon to say that Jesus is pointing to the concept that God is cause and man is effect or man-ifestation.

Cause must be expressed through manifestation. Express means to press outward or to bring into shape and form what exists implicitly.

What if we saw everything around us in physical form as expressions of the Divine?

What if this was the home, work, laptop, dog, and underwear of the Divine? What if it was all part of some higher order? How differently would our world look, feel, and respond?

This is the power relationship. Cause and effect, God and man, formless and form, heaven and earth — consciously working as one.

“Trying to have manifestation without Cause, is atheism and materialism. Trying to have Cause without manifestation leads man to suppose himself to be a personal God, and this commonly ends in megalomania and a kind of paralysis of expression.”
-Emmet Fox

We each have our own roles. God and human. One, but not the same.

Our Father, who art in heaven… seeking expression through us humans who art on Earth.

And so it is.


This is Part 2 of the weekly series where I break down, line-by-line, the Lord’s Prayer and interpret it however I wish (because everyone should do this). This series is inspired by Power Through Constructive Thinking by Emmet Fox. If you haven’t yet read part 1 and would like to, click here.


Jonas writes short daily spiritual explosives and preachments of whimsy on the daily here in Higher Thoughts. Get one to enjoy with your coffee every morning by subscribing below.

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