Praying

Just before Thanksgiving a student asked me whether, in my family, I led the prayer over the day’s feast. I explained that we have never prayed over meals in my family. I was not raised in any religion at all (for which I am so grateful – I had an open mind with which to approach God). It always seemed sort of a pagan thing to me to thank God for the food I was about to eat. I never saw the difference between that and thanking a more earth-centered deity. Then, when I embarked on a spiritual path, I learned from A Course in Miracles that God did not make the world, so it makes no sense to me to thank God for the food I’m about to eat. Later that day I was revisiting this idea and I thought, what would I say in such a prayer? ‘Thank you, the-one-mind-that-dreams-of-separation-from-God, for the illusion of turkey’? Then I thought, no, I’d have to go much deeper: ‘Thank you, the-one-mind-that-dreams-of-separation-from-God, for the illusion that I am a personal self in a world separate from God, and for the illusion of turkey that the personal self has an illusion it needs for its illusion of a life.’ I had a good chuckle.

This made it very clear to me how that kind of praying reinforces the perception of separation from God as a fact. When I recognize that I am One with God, I recognize that I have nothing for which to pray, because I have Everything, Always. I may feel a strong desire to express my gratitude to God for God, but God doesn’t need my gratitude; I express my gratitude because I cannot help doing so. Gratitude is simply an aspect of God’s Love, Which God extends to Everything Real, and Which Everything Real returns to God. True Prayer then, is simply communing with God, rather than petitioning God or expressing gratitude to a separate God that I need to appease. True Prayer means opening my mind to recognizing my Oneness with God. And all that I need for this is willingness.

Of course, many students find out soon after opening A Course in Miracles that if they have been praying-by-petitioning, or thanking God for what shows up in the world, they have not been doing anything real at all. They find that they were confusing the dreamer-of-the-dream with God; they were trying to make illusion Truth, or to bring Truth into illusion. Those who come from religious traditions where praying to God was a part of their daily lives are often confused. ‘I don’t know how to pray anymore’ they’ll say to me, often feeling that they no longer have a way to connect with God, and uncertain that what they connected to before was God. But any sense of connection to God that they had before was real. God comes into your awareness when you are willing for God to do so; the thoughts and words and postures that you use are irrelevant. God is right here; if your mind is open to God, God comes into your awareness naturally.

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Read The Message of A Course in Miracles: A translation of the Text in plain language at www.themessageofacim.com.

Comments

jandvig said…
Hi Liz,

"True Prayer means opening my mind to recognizing my Oneness with God."

I feel a sense of gratitude in just reading this sentence. The gratitude is for a sense of truth in the words that you share.

Now I understand why the "traditional" form of prayer never really resonated deeply for me. I felt the falseness of it.

"The thoughts and words and postures that you use are irrelevant. God is right here."

I especially needed this gentle reminder. As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I need to be constantly open to this truth.

I do find it difficult to balance between thinking that "yoga" practice has the capacity to open my mind to God being right here and "yoga" practice as an illusory projection in the world. I know that in a way my yoga education somehow did lead me to understanding Truth, but I'm still not sure how to share Truth in the practice of yoga with my students without just coming out and stating that this yoga practice doesn't really matter. Only God is Real. I think you'd tell me that my knowing it is enough.

Namaste,
Janet
ACIM Mentor said…
Yes, Janet, your knowing it is enough.
CBM said…
Hi Liz:

I am enjoying much of what you are saying here about prayer. I am wondering if you might have any commentary on this verbatim quote from the book.

"... What else but you did the Creator create, and what else but you is His Kingdom?.... You, too, have a Kingdom that your spirit created. It has not ceased to create because of the ego's illusions. Your creations are no more fatherless than you are. Your ego and your spirit will never be co-creators, but your spirit and your Creator will always be." (ACIM, 4:III:1:5,7,8,9,10)

It seems to me, although it is quite obscured by much of what the Course has to say, that the Course, too, has the idea of a Creator (upper case "C") and that which He (upper case "H") creates. I am/have a spirit and I am/have a Creator (aka "father", see above and subconciously add "mother" to eliminate the gender bias).

When I pray "to" my Creator, I always begin with gratitude; not because my Creator needs to be "appeased" but because I need my daily dose of gratitude in my spirit. I also pray for increased connection, knowledge, and power to do the next right thing for Love (upper case "L"). This way of communing with God seems to work very well for me.

Thanks again for all you do to help us understand the Course and all its apparently infinite novel semantics!

~Jeremy
ACIM Mentor said…
Like so many words that we are familiar with, Jeremy, the Course gives 'Creation' a new meaning. 'Creation' is God's Extension of God; as God's Creation (or Extension), you also extend God. All this really means is that in God, there is only God extending Infinitely. There's really no 'you' and 'God', or 'God' and 'God's Creation' - that language is for the separated who think in terms of duality. So the Course's purpose in re-defining of the word 'Creation' is to undo duality.
This is typical of the way that the Course works! It uses what we have made to undo what we have made by translating it into Oneness!
will said…
In my meditation, when things begin to quiet down, I picture myself in the dream. After awhile this leads to picturing myself as an illusion in the mind, just sitting there in the mind as an illusion. It’s quiet, it’s dark and it’s peaceful sitting in the mind. I begin to feel that I am in the mind and the mind is in heaven. Heaven is that close, right there. This has been very helpful.
小林 said…
Better late than never................

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