STEP ELEVEN CONTINUED: Seek through prayer, meditation, and contemplation to improve our relationship with the Divine, praying for clarity of mind, an open heart, and further ways to heal ourselves and our world from the abuses of religion.
Instruction: Keep up the conversation.
Prayer is the word we use for talking to The Divine. Our concepts of prayer tend to change over the years, especially if we feel The Divine didn’t answer our prayers. Perhaps a more accurate way to phrase it is that The Divine didn’t answer our prayers the way we wanted them to be answered. I’m convinced that our prayers are heard, and I’m also convinced that our prayers are answered. Problems arise when we think we know what is best for our lives and refuse to accept any answer that isn’t the one we wanted. Many times we also think we know the exact timing of those answers, and when the timing isn’t what we thought it should be, we struggle to accept that Divine timing might be perfect for our needs.
Over time, I’ve discovered for myself that prayer works best for me when I think of it as a conversation instead of a place to make petitions. If I imagine myself having a conversation with a friend, one who knows me, loves me, and respects me, then I can see that going to this friend on a regular basis and asking for favors would not be healthy for either of us. I don’t want my friend to give me all the answers or solve all my problems. What I appreciate and value in a friendship is a listening ear, someone to offer a bit of advice from time to time, and someone to believe in me. I appreciate the fact that he respects me enough to know that I will solve most of my problems in my own time and in my own way. If there is a situation that seems beyond my abilities, my friend often offers help or resources that are at his disposal.
In most situations, I will not accept that help, not out of pride, but because I don’t want to take advantage of the friendship. I respect my friend. I wonder if we haven’t at times lost respect for The Divine, treating our relationship as if it’s okay to expect The Divine to solve all our problems without any effort on our part. Perhaps one way to look at prayer is simply having a conversation with That-Which-Is-Greater-Than-Self and working together to find the answers to our problems. If that is the case, then we should always try to keep up the conversation, because we can learn so much and gain so much by listening to the suggestions and advice that can make remarkable changes in our world.
Take a little time today to consider your prayer life. Or, if you don’t have a prayer life, what would you want that prayer life to look like? Are we treating our Higher Power as a resource to get things from, or are we treating our Higher Power as a wise Friend? Are we able to accept “no” for an answer without pouting or losing faith in the integrity and love of our Higher Power?
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.