The starting point is the question.
- Alberto Manguel, Argentine Canadian essayist and novelist
It does not make a bit of difference to Spirit whether we pray or not. It does, however, make a big difference to us.
I thought about this during the holidays when a 5-year-old boy was asked to give the prayer before dinner. The youngster began his prayer by thanking God for his mom and dad and all his friends. He thanked God for his brother and sister, as well as his grandparents and aunts and uncles. He went on to give thanks for all the food they were about to eat. He named the foods one by one: the turkey, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the potatoes, the pies, the cakes, the whipped cream and so on.
Then the boy paused. Everyone waited. And waited. And waited. After a long silence, the boy looked up at his mom and asked, "If I thank God for the broccoli, won't God know that I'm lying?"
The story reminded me that our prayers don't affect God. The purpose of prayer is to raise our consciousness in order to demonstrate more - and never less - of our true selves.
For effectual prayer, the ancient wisdom teachings use affirmations. We all know that an "affirmation" is a statement in the present tense that reinforces the truth of our being or something we want to see manifest in our life, even if it is not showing up right now.
An example of a traditional affirmation might be: "I am healthy." If we are going through a health challenge, when we speak such an affirmation, we may hear an internal voice that says, "Yeah, right!"
Many times we don't accept our own affirmations because we may be trying to convince ourselves of something that, on some level, we don't believe. Now the teachings suggest that, even if we don't believe in the affirmation, we are to repeat our affirmations over and over again until we eventually believe them. There are times this works.
But have you ever said an affirmation (for example, "I am prosperous, I am happy, I have enough.") and nothing changes?
There is something we can add to affirmation work that boosts the effectiveness of our prayers. And that is to supplement our affirmations with powerful questions. Our minds are constantly asking and seeking answers to questions. So to enhance the potency of our prayer work, we want ask ourselves empowering questions. When we do, our minds go on a hunt to find the answers.
In the example of the affirmation in which we say, "I am healthy" and the appearances suggest otherwise, we can ask, "Why am I healthy?" Our mind will automatically go on a search for the answer.
There is a universal law found in the scriptural statement, "Ask and it shall be given to you." But many people ask dis-empowering questions like, "How can this get any worse?" or "Why can't I do anything right?"
The universe, being all-powerful and all-knowing, gives them the answer to the question that they ask.
Empowering questions cause our minds to focus on what we really want and stop us from focusing on what we don't want. When we add this element to affirmative prayer, we turbo-boost the great technology of prayer.
Try it and let me know your experience.
Peace and Blessings,
P.S. If you'd like to learn more about affirmative prayer, our upcoming "Life of Prayer" course offers many techniques to help you deepen and maintain a prayer practice in your life. Praying and learning alongside others in our community is always a powerful experience. The class begins on January 24. Click here to learn more.