Chapter Four – Asking and Praying
A demand we make on ourselves to release contractions of fear; we accept an expanded way of seeing to allow higher energies to flow through us.
I was 65 years old and my husband had just gone into assisted living with Alzheimer’s. A month later, still fatigued by his erratic behavior day and night, feeling newly widowed and vulnerable, I walked into a college watercolor painting class. Now, you must understand that I had never watched anyone paint and had never taken a class like this in my life. When I got there, people had their paints out and they were all doing different paintings. I felt confused and angry. I had arrived at the scheduled time for this new class. How was it that they all had painting equipment and were all painting already? I couldn’t even figure out who the teacher was. I later learned that this was a class that bridged quarters at the school and those students had continued from a former session.
Meanwhile, by the time I approached the man who was the teacher and began asking him questions to try to orient myself to the scene, I was no doubt quite grumpy toward him. Given this non-auspicious start, I stayed anyway and watched people paint. I heard him criticizing students for not buying supplies as he had recommended on his supply list. And when it was time to leave, he asked me not to return.
That challenged me. My image of myself was that of “teacher’s pet!” I had a different plan. I decided to be a perfect student. I went to the recommended art supply store and made absolutely sure that I was buying everything exactly as listed on his supply list. I went back to class the next week, spread out my supplies, and began to paint like I knew what I was doing. I was amazed by my own painting. The teacher completely ignored me for two weeks. Then, on the fourth week, he had a change of heart and came by to praise my work.
A few years later, after studying with a woman elsewhere, I had a painting that was selected for display at a local college. I was so proud of it and pleased with my progress. I walked into a class being taught by the original teacher carrying my prize painting. He immediately started to critique it. I said, “I’m not here for a critique. I’m here to express my gratitude to you. Look how far I’ve come.” He went silent and I saw a smile break out on his face.
At all times we are asking for something to be true for us. Put another way, at each moment we are having a thought that will cause us to contract or expand in consciousness. The question is what we are asking for and how we are asking for it. We tend to address our request outward. We need to make demands on ourselves rather than on others. Note how I asked of myself in the experience above. I changed my own thoughts and behaviors. “Ask of yourself and ye shall receive!!”
We tend to hold onto habitual ways of thinking and acting to reprove to ourselves what we have believed about ourselves and others. We do this to not allow disruption to our lives (and this is the same as trying to hold onto our baby teeth!). Asking, or praying with awareness, allows us to go beyond habits and into the unknown. Prayer calls for a change in our beliefs, behaviors, and responses to others. Habits hold us within the known where we believe we are safe because life seems predictable even if miserable. Prayer takes us to the unknown where life is unpredictable and therefore has an opportunity to be renewed. What is predictable through prayer is that the outcome will be good when we allow our energy to flow naturally.
Just as our body is always being held to Earth by gravity and we rarely ever think about it, our soul is always being held within a universal energy field just as continuously. Some call this “grid” the Love of God. We never fall off the Earth. We never fall out of the Love of God though we may not recognize this Love any more than a fish notices water. Prayer wakes us to this truth. Prayer has no beginning and no ending. It is part of life. We pray to remember the presence of this Love of God, to keep our connection with our Source and understand that we have never left it.
“Ask and ye shall receive” relates to the holy, not physical or material things. We cannot solve a problem from the level of consciousness that created it. When any problem presents itself to us, this indicates that we need to go to a higher state of consciousness. We achieve this through prayer. To ask or to pray, is to open, to expand, and to receive, all of which are feminine functions. The asking in prayer is acceptance of an expanded way of seeing and an allowing of higher energies to flow through us (as in compassion rather than blame, gratitude rather than grievance, loving-kindness rather than fear, and inclusion rather than exclusion or rejection). This shifting in consciousness is forgiving.
Pleading may be mistaken for prayer. Pleading always involves feelings of weakness and inadequacy and affirms a sense of lack, scarcity, and deprivation. Pleading asks for someone else to meet a need for us that we ourselves are not willing to meet. To pray is to ask, and to ask is to allow the truth of our power to be revealed to us. Prayer allows us to give a powerful, new, and more effective response to the situation before us.
Words are helpful and not necessary in prayer. The intent, or direction of our energy, is what influences the unseen universe. So taking ourselves to a state of resolve, a full commitment as in my story of painting class above, asks for a new outcome. This energy shift allows us to reach peace and gratitude in responding to a situation before us. To effectively pray for another, we attune with our own higher energy which will genuinely attune to their higher energy to reinforce that, which is where healing takes place.
Prayer is the greatest gift with which we have been blessed. It allows us to shift from cultural conditioning (which is like our baby teeth) to create our unique life from within (which is like our permanent teeth). These unique offerings to humanity are what advance us personally and as a humanity. Prayer is for a change in ourselves, in our own mind, that allows us to see a situation more broadly and therefore give a higher response to the situation before us. This is different from praying for a change in external circumstances. And “higher” might be defined as creative, or some response different from our habitual way.
To pray is to “seek first the Kingdom of Heaven,” which means to shift from ego perception (contracting in fear) to God’s vision (expanding in love) which adds and acknowledges the necessity of the feminine function. To ask can be as simple as putting a period before the “but” in sentences like: “I’d love to _____ but (fears that keep us restricting and limiting ourselves).” The first part of this sentence usually will relate to a desire in our soul/heart and the second part of the sentence will nix that due to fear or guilt.
Prayer is the direct and personal uplifting of one’s own energy. Prayer is thought which creates something new. Our ego meets all steps to freedom with doubt. This signal comes like the wavy green line when word processing on computers. The ego will send out an alarm which says, “I doubt that (what you are thinking of doing is within your cultural conditioning).” The other half of that sentence which goes unspoken is, “and you will die if you do that.” We can consciously respond to that doubt as if someone else is questioning us by saying to ourselves, “I freely choose to step outside those limits.”
The basic law of life is that Love Heals. This is true at the personal, national, and global levels. Prayer calls on Love to enter. Love will bring up anything unlike itself to be seen and released. We so often believe that our prayers are not being answered when “bad things” happen after we pray. Prayer will not be answered if we are still afraid to receive what we are asking for, or to clear out what needs to leave to make way for it. Both the receiving function and the clearing out function are feminine aspects of the holy.
As things change, people will either see structures collapsing around them and despair, or see the world uplifting itself in the midst of collapse and be joyful. Prayer is a process that asks for and cooperates with the breakdown of the old and creating of the new. It is a feminine function to break open the womb and birth the baby. It requires faith to go through collapse and see good emerging (this is to see the permanent teeth emerging when the baby teeth are wiggling and bleeding!)
So taking a look at this, to be stuck in blame or waiting for another to change is to be stuck contracting. Contracting our energy at any level sets up grief and pain and is the process behind our chronic illnesses. Forgiving ends the contraction and allows us to heal. To forgive is to stop our intent to blame, to not allow ourselves to complain about others, wait for others to change to please us, be harmful to others, create more problems with our reactions to others, etc. Relate this to making a fist as our habit of blaming and waiting for others to change, and allowing the fist to open as forgiving.
Forgiving changes us. It takes us out of blame mode, releases our contraction, and empowers us to think and act anew. We either justify fear, anger, and attack or we allow ourselves to see differently and receive Justice – bring our Good to ourselves. In a situation where you feel angry, ask yourself what you want from “them” and see how you are not giving that to yourself. Ask yourself what “they” gave you that you did not want and stop giving that to yourself. That shift in mind is also known as forgiving.
At the cultural level, justice means seeing to revenge against someone else making sure something bad happens to them as payment for harm or a perceived harm. We are contracted in fear and anger and we call for another (others) to be contracted also. Justice as revenge is rendered by people toward other people.
At the spiritual level, Justice means adjusting our own energy to bring our own Good to us. This is a reversal, the kind that takes place when we shift our consciousness from what was considered “normal” in the last 2000 years to what will fit with the energy of the Age of Aquarius.
Spiritual Justice comes from proper use of our life force itself in a way that blesses both ourselves and others. When we stop calling for another to contract, we extend to them the opportunity to grow. As long as we want to bring harm to others, we cannot bless ourselves either.
A Course in Miracles says we first forgive, then we pray, and then we are healed. And we also need to be willing to receive Justice which means to directly receive our Good and not want revenge against another. So taking a look at this, to be stuck in blame or waiting for another to change is to be stuck contracting. Contracting our energy at any level sets up grief and pain. Forgiving ends the contraction. To forgive is to stop our intent to blame, to not allow ourselves to complain about others, wait for others to change to please us, be harmful to others, create more problems with our reactions to others, etc. Relate this to making a fist as our habit of blaming and waiting for others to change, and allowing the fist to open as forgiving.
Once we release our intent to blame, prayer takes us to our higher way of thinking, which brings in love and ends suffering. To heal is to open the heart – to rise above resentment to gratitude. To heal is to be part of the solution as opposed to being part of the problem. All healing is self-healing and it heals Earth and all around us at the same time. To heal is to be only helpful. To heal is to live in grace and exude kindness. The Aquarian Age is about healing. Ideally, as humanity takes its next step in evolution, we will choose to Be a living prayer, to Be impeccable about holding to higher identity.
Let’s look at a situation earlier in my life to see the asking. By my mid-thirties, I was exhausted. I was doing my best job of wife, taking care of my husband as an invalid. I was doing my best job of mother, taking care of my two children. I was doing my best job as homemaker, taking care of all involved in running a household. I was doing my best working as a nurse, helping to take care of family finances. I was going to school because it was obvious that I would soon be the major support of our family. And then my mother had a hip replacement in a distant city and I was commuting to give her care.
On the long drive I felt a pain near my right groin. I was already scheduled for a physical that week. The doctor put her hand over my pelvis and said, “Your ovary is enlarged and it is probably malignant. I will schedule you for an ultrasound and meanwhile, I’m going to request the first available bed at the hospital for surgery.” The next two weeks gave me plenty of time to consider life in a whole new way. It was now about me and my life. I remember writing a letter to a friend and feeling exalted. Not the usual thing when one has just been told they have cancer. It is understandable, however, that my soul might see a way out of the trap it was in. It had begun to sing its song.
I had trusted no one since the near death pneumonia experience at age two. Here, 35 years later I was returning to a hospital under the care of another physician. I asked of myself to surrender and trust the woman surgeon. I asked of myself to be willing to receive help. I asked of myself to accept any gift that anyone gave to me. I had a tree planted for me in Israel. I received a membership in our local public television channel. One person came to lay hands on me. Others came to pray for me. Some sent material gifts. I released the fear of receiving harm to myself and received all of these gifts as only helpful for me.
The original pathology report had come back positive for the ovary during surgery so the surgeon opened me back up and took out the rest of my female organs. It turned out that there was cancer in the uterus as well. I had no further treatment. However, focus to save my life directly rather than try to save myself by saving my husband transformed my whole life. Some months after surgery I gave myself 6 weeks to find care for him either inside or outside of our home. The only viable option I saw was for him to go to a local VA hospital while I worked and then come home on weekends.
The day before he was to be admitted, his mother came, picked him up, and took him out of state, unwilling for him to go to the hospital. I was suddenly and unexpectedly widowed. I had not foreseen this and had done nothing to prepare my children. Then pressure began from both sides of the family for me to take him back. I took this as a statement from them that they wanted me to continue to sacrifice myself for him and die of cancer. I asked to live. I said no. I stood alone for my own life. Ask of yourself and ye shall receive.
There are many ways to look at asking or prayer. Perhaps always this shift in focus involves going against some aspect of programming and our ingrained sense of guilt will make us wrong as well as many people around us when we behave in new ways. Asking always involves an act of will. As in the statement above from A Course in Miracles, when I stopped trying to save my husband and switched to self-care, I forgave him. To pray, then, was to surrender long held defenses accompanied by trusting no one. To heal, was to begin to trust and be true to myself.
To ask is to believe a new way is possible, and new outcome is possible, and therefore stop waiting for someone else to act and act oneself. To ask is to know what we want, not what we don’t want. Sometimes when we have denied our wants for a long time it is easier at first to recognize what we don’t want any more, or what we are sick and tired of. Asking, then, is often doing the opposite of what we have been doing in order to bring a new result. Asking also entails willingness to receive an answer. True prayer always takes us into the unknown, which perhaps none of us really want. We only want our painful situations to end.