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What about Prayer and God's Will?
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.
PARTICIPANT: I’d like to talk about prayer. The intention of prayer has always been to make the “out here” be what we think it should be, or “better.” So if I’m going to pray...this is saying Holy Spirit or God answers prayer.
PARTICIPANT: Trying to make you perceive things differently.
PARTICIPANT: So what is the will of God? The will of God is my will. It’s all stirred up to me. It doesn’t fit together.
SPEAKER: You’ve got some good questions there. The Bible is saying this about prayer “Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you,” and in eastern philosophy, the law of karma “as you sow, so shall you reap.” No matter how you take it, it’s all the fundamental belief that giving and receiving are the same.
There’s a part in the Song of Prayer, where he refers to a ladder. When you’re really bound into the world of form, you can’t help but pray for the world of form. This is the lower rung of the ladder. “Help me, help my child, help my Aunt Martha on her trip to India, help end world hunger and poverty.” If you believe in the reality of the world around you, you can’t help but to pray like that.
Jesus is saying that it’s not wrong to pray in that way, but there are higher realms of prayer. When you get back to the perceptual “Help me see this differently”… it is a prayer that the Course says in many different ways, because that is bringing it back to “it’s a perceptual problem. I’ve got distorted perception and I need another way to look at this. I need to see peace instead of this.”
And then he goes to a deeper level, as you go to the higher rungs on the ladder. At one point Jesus says “Prayer is your desire.” So if your desire is single and whole, your prayer of course is always answered. If your prayer is for God and nothing but God, then the state that you receive is a state of joy and peace.
You may have it tainted with desire for other things… for example does Marianne Williamson put it something like this… “Do I want peace…or do I want ‘him’ to call?” It’s a good example because it’s more important that “he calls me today” than my peace is.
At those levels of desire you can start to see how important it is to get in touch with unconscious beliefs. Start to get in touch with what the ego’s beliefs are and what it’s purpose is and say “Hey I don’t want those, I’m not going to keep plugging this appliance in, I’m not going to keep following this ego because I want peace,”… who wants pain and misery and not happiness? That kind of addresses the topic of prayer. It certainly gets away from the prayers for specifics. A lot of prayers, even among Unity and other New Age thinking, are tied in with abundance; praying and using the mind to visualize the kind of life that you want.
Jesus does not condemn this… but it’s more like the middle rung. If you visualize and you experience something, and you hold it in mind, and it seems to come, it’s a powerful experience. It’s something powerful about the Mind. It’s a definite experience that flies in the face of “I’m a weak little helpless nobody and I’m at the whim and the victim of everything in the world.”
Then Jesus says, “Now that you can see your mind is powerful, how about Peace of Mind, Enlightenment, and Salvation as your only goal? Take that powerful mind that you’re starting to realize that you have, and give it to me, or give it to the Holy Spirit and start putting peace as your only goal.” Peace is abstract. How can you quantify peace? It’s this abstract kind of purpose that’s hard to get a grasp on. How am I at peace when I’m with my brother or my sister? Peace and judgment don’t go together. Peace and its interpretation definitely give a lot of experience, but those are the higher rungs. Instead of praying for specifics… please give me this, please give me that, please end world hunger, please have it be a hot sunny day when we’re having our family picnic... instead of praying for specifics, hold this goal of abstract peace in mind, and allow and accept... you don’t have an investment in the form as much. The peace comes because you’re not invested in the form.
You start to get so content as you ascend up that ladder that it’s not seen as a sacrifice. Those things that seemed so important.... that seemed like a really big deal, the joy starts to be so intense, the well starts to bubble up inside so much, you go “Huh, I can’t believe that I thought that would bring me happiness and peace, but at the time I couldn’t see that.”
Aside from prayer you also mentioned “will”;
God’s Will for his Son (for us) is perfect happiness.
I’ve heard all these things when people say “Well it’s God’s will that people starve and it’s God’s will that this happened and this and that,” but God’s Will is for perfect happiness.
Now, the Course says that God’s Will is not known in this world. That this world is made to cover over and make up an alien will (the ego) apart from God’s Will and that’s where pain and fear and misery come in. We talk about “free will,” free will is when the mind has accepted the Atonement and is healed. Then the will is free because the Father and the Son’s Will are One and the Son knows this. The Son knows his will is not apart from his Father... Jesus knew this as a Fact.
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