Theoquest | 21 Steps: Step 10

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Step 10: Praying 

Through prayer, meditation, worship, and spiritual communion we are improving our conscious contact with God and sharing our inner lives with him.

The committing of our lives to God is the spiritual foundation for prayer, the process by which we come to know our heavenly Father.

God, being God, can communicate with us any way he chooses. If he rarely does so audibly, it is due to the importance he attaches to our growth in faith. If seeking spiritual guidance consisted of no more than listening to a voice or consulting handwriting on a chalkboard, what point would there be to living by faith? God’s plan requires that we rely on our highest convictions when the way is unclear, for wrestling with the uncertainties of inner guidance exercises our faith. A parent is less concerned with whether his child understands a particular passage than with whether the child is learning to read; similarly, the important thing in God’s sight is not whether we perfectly understand a particular answer to prayer, but the process of growth associated with seeking his will. The latter pertains to our relationship with him; the former addresses only details.

Prayer cannot be learned from books, only by experience. Prayer is communication with one’s Maker, not a rhetorical skill whereby our flowery language supposedly impresses him whose mind encompasses the galaxies. The time, place, and form of our prayers are not significant, only their sincerity and our willingness to listen for God’s answers. We become friends with our Father in heaven the same way we do with anyone else, by spending time with him–talking, listening, and sharing our lives.

For our prayers to be effective, they should be focused and specific. Exactly how do we want the situation to turn out? Usually, just thinking that question through discloses the obvious answer and permits us to redirect our human energies to its realization. Our overall attitude toward life is, "Father, your will be done," but in prayer, generalities dissipate like water poured from a bucket. Having thought the situation through to the best of our ability and arrived at a sincere belief as to the best outcome for all concerned, we unhesitatingly ask the Father to help us bring it about.

If God appears not to have answered our prayers, it is not because he hasn’t heard, doesn’t care, or is too busy. An apparently unanswered prayer could signify several things: that we have not yet exhausted our human remedies to the problem; that, for reasons we do not understand, it would be harmful for us to receive that which we seek, at least in the way we envision; that answering our prayer would abridge another’s free will; that the time is not yet ripe; or even, unbeknownst to us, that the prayer has already been answered. Except for these self-evident exceptions, we should live in the certainty that God answers every one of our prayers.

Prayer, faith, and action are spiritually bound together. Prayer generates faith, faith leads us to pray, and both lead us to act decisively according to our Father’s leading. Acting on spiritual guidance in turn gives us more faith and upsteps our prayer life as we experience the satisfactions of a victorious spiritual life.

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If you would engage in effective praying, you should bear in mind the laws of prevailing petitions:

  • 1. You must qualify as a potent prayer by sincerely and courageously facing the problems of universe reality. You must possess cosmic stamina.
  • 2. You must have honestly exhausted the human capacity for human adjustment. You must have been industrious.
  • 3. You must surrender every wish of mind and every craving of soul to the transforming embrace of spiritual growth. You must have experienced an enhancement of meanings and an elevation of values.
  • 4. You must make a wholehearted choice of the divine will. You must obliterate the dead center of indecision.
  • 5. You not only recognize the Father's will and choose to do it, but you have effected an unqualified consecration, and a dynamic dedication, to the actual doing of the Father's will.
  • 6. Your prayer will be directed exclusively for divine wisdom to solve the specific human problems encountered in the Paradise ascension--the attainment of divine perfection.
  • 7. And you must have faith--living faith. 91:9.1-8
The doing of the will of God is nothing more or less than an exhibition of creature willingness to share the inner life with God--with the very God who has made such a creature life of inner meaning-value possible. Sharing is Godlike--divine. 111:5.1

Worship is the act of a part identifying itself with the Whole; the finite with the Infinite; the son with the Father; time in the act of striking step with eternity. Worship is the act of the son's personal communion with the divine Father, the assumption of refreshing, creative, fraternal, and romantic attitudes by the human soul-spirit. 143:7.8

"But when you pray, you exercise so little faith. Genuine faith will remove mountains of material difficulty which may chance to lie in the path of soul expansion and spiritual progress." 144:2.6

Jesus taught that effective prayer must be:

  • 1. Unselfish--not alone for oneself.
  • 2. Believing--according to faith.
  • 3. Sincere--honest of heart.
  • 4. Intelligent--according to light.
  • 5. Trustful--in submission to the Father's all-wise will. 144:3.8
When you have become wholly dedicated to the doing of the will of the Father in heaven, the answer to all your petitions will be forthcoming because your prayers will be in full accordance with the Father's will, and the Father's will is ever manifest throughout his vast universe. What the true son desires and the infinite Father wills IS. Such a prayer cannot remain unanswered, and no other sort of petition can possibly be fully answered. 146:2.7

"I have come forth from the Father; if, therefore, you are ever in doubt as to what you would ask of the Father, ask in my name, and I will present your petition in accordance with your real needs and desires and in accordance with my Father's will." 146:2.10

Even the apostles were unable fully to comprehend his teaching as to the necessity for using spiritual force for the purpose of breaking through all material resistance and for surmounting every earthly obstacle which might chance to stand in the way of grasping the all-important spiritual values of the new life in the spirit as the liberated sons of God. 166:3.8

When a prayer is apparently unanswered, the delay often betokens a better answer, although one which is for some good reason greatly delayed. . . . No sincere prayer is denied an answer except when the superior viewpoint of the spiritual world has devised a better answer, an answer which meets the petition of the spirit of man as contrasted with the prayer of the mere mind of man. 168:4.5

How long will it take the world of believers to understand that prayer is not a process of getting your way but rather a program of taking God's way, an experience of learning how to recognize and execute the Father's will? It is entirely true that, when your will has been truly aligned with his, you can ask anything conceived by that will-union, and it will be granted. And such a will-union is effected by and through Jesus even as the life of the vine flows into and through the living branches. 180:2.4


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