What does ‘prayer’ suggest to you? A pointless ritual? A cleric recites from a prayer book while the congregation gives fixed ‘responses’ parrot-fashion? This is one form of prayer, but it is not the whole story.
As a child, I was taught to get down on my knees and plead with a supernatural being to take pity on me, give me what I wanted and solve my problems for me. I call this ‘begging prayer’. Needless to say, this kind of prayer hardly ever works. Nowadays I don’t believe that prayer is for acquiring things or having our problems solved by an outside force, but for hastening our personal growth.
Which brings us to a third type of ‘prayer’, one that does work. It’s called ‘affirmative prayer’. It is, in effect, concentrated positive thinking. It works directly on our consciousness, making us aware of limiting thought patterns and changing them so that new thought patterns manifest as life conditions. There’s no need to kneel or beg and you don’t have to pray to a G-d unless you want to. You can pray anytime, anywhere, and in your own words. It can be a one minute activity in which you pause, mentally switch off from your surroundings and take a few moments to centre yourself among the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Affirmative prayer has three main mechanisms – mindfulness, denials and affirmations. Denial is letting go of unwanted thoughts and limiting beliefs. The process is then completed by affirming the truth of positive thoughts and beliefs.
Mindfulness is simply going within and being aware of our thoughts and feelings and how we are responding to the world around us. It is taught in clinics, classes and counselling sessions all over the world as an effective psychological therapy.
Denials are akin to preparing the ground before planting seeds – first we dig up the weeds, clear the ground and prepare the soil. For example:
- I now release all fear, all worry, anxiety and mistrust.
- I am now letting go of all hatred, anger and all bitterness.
Allow yourself to feel the release happening as you interrupt the energy you have been giving to erroneous thoughts.
Follow each denial with affirmations. To affirm anything is to assert that it is so. It begins the process of making it so even if there is no visible evidence to support it. Use a form of words such as, ‘I now accept…..’ or ‘I now establish…..’ The word ‘now’ adds to their immediacy. For example:
- I automatically and joyfully focus on the positive.
- Perfect harmony is now established in me. I am at peace.
- It is right for me to have happiness (or love, prosperity etc.). I claim it. I give thanks for it.
- I resolve to live, love and be happy, whatever happens around me, with compassion for all.
- I have time enough, faith enough, strength enough and enthusiasm enough to do the things that need to be done by me.
Create some affirmations for yourself. Write them on a card and carry them around with you. Use them often, both silently and aloud. You can adapt them any time to meet your own needs.
We receive answers to affirmative prayers not in the form of miraculous interventions, but intuitive ideas. When they come, act on them. Keep your wits about you and let your inner self guide you.
Don’t ask for changes in your circumstances, but in yourself. Affirmative prayer brings about changes in every cell in our bodies and in our energy field. And when we change, the world changes, reflecting back the changes taking place within us. Then, as we incorporate more of the higher qualities into ourselves, we are able to make a real difference to our own and other people’s lives.
Affirmative prayer has been shown to be effective in many scientific studies, and the explanation is not difficult to find. In quantum terms it aligns our thoughts with the highest vibrations of the universe.
Deep inside us, at our very core, is a place of absolute silence and stillness where we become aware of a peaceful Presence at the centre of our being. But first we have to clear away the foolish thoughts and emotional fog which obscure it. Thinking too much is like over-eating – it brings a kind of mental indigestion of anxiety and stress. That’s why every respectable spiritual tradition teaches stillness and silence to connect with one’s deepest self and strengthen our link with the Life Force, whatever we conceive it to be.
So put aside your negative preconceptions about prayer. Don’t be a praying beggar. Direct your thoughts positively, focus on the Power within you. Be inspired. When you’re calm, whole and centred on the inside, your life is complete on the outside too. That’s what the Buddha meant when he said, ‘Meditate and be mindful, and all else will follow.’
©David Lawrence Preston, 7.6.2018
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How To Books, 2007