MaryLou feels trapped in a low-paying job and asks for prayer treatment. As a part of my prayer, I say, “All things are possible with God. Since God is all powerful and present everywhere, everything is possible for MaryLou. God is Divine Givingness and Mary Lou’s new job is already present in the mind of God. I accept that her wonderful new job is here now. Thank you God.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see MaryLou smiling.
Unlike traditional prayer, Religious Science practitioners do not kneel and plead to God. We open our hearts and minds to accept whatever we are praying for. The key to effective prayer is that, “It is done to us as we believe”.
Our process of praying is based on the belief that everything comes from God and God is Love working through Law. When we envision, believe, and accept our desires, God (working as spiritual law) makes a way to bring them into being.
We “claim” rather than “plead”, and we often get marvelous results. The most important factor in how quickly we get those results depends on how and what we believe. If we believe it will be difficult, that will slow us down. So will hidden beliefs about being unworthy or unfit.
Not only must we envision but we must believe before we see the desired changes. We can deeply desire something without believing it is attainable. We can also believe it is attainable but that it requires struggle and hard work. That slows it down. Good prayer work can speed up the process.
Prayers do work very simply sometimes but you can’t just wish and make it so. You usually have to release old beliefs that stand in the way. We all have limiting beliefs. Try and convince a poor person that he can claim a fortune by thanking God in advance. Or tell a sick person that faith will make him well. These old beliefs can be like the burrs sticking in a hound dog’s ears after a romp in the woods.
Here’s another burry fact. Beliefs may be unknown as well as long-standing. Because they know how complicated the human mind can be, many students of Science of Mind begin to focus on uncovering the reason for the problem rather than envisioning and claiming the solution. They approach their prayer work as though they were Sherlock Holmes .
Sometimes it is better not to have too much information. Years ago our center had a visitor from a bigger, older church with a famous minister. The visitor asked me for prayer after the service. She was a 37 year old woman who desperately wanted to marry and have a child. According to her, she and her minister had prayed and counseled for years but neither could figure out exactly which hidden, frustrating belief was keeping her stuck.
We only had the one session so I didn’t know her well. That turned out to be a good thing because I wasn’t intrigued by her history. I guided her away from looking for clues and into describing her ideal marriage. The next week she met a young man on the tennis court in her local park. They dated for a short time and married. That greatly desired baby arrived before her 38th birthday party. Last time I heard, she had another child and a very happy life.
Some readers might think that was beginner’s luck. She insisted I knew a magic formula, but neither explanation is true. My advantage was probably because I didn’t have a history of failure, nor did I know much about her. It was not magic. It was spiritual law in action.
As a Religious Science minister, I have seen all sorts of results that might look like magic or miracles to outsiders. Spots on lungs showed up on an x-ray one month only to disappear the next. A “dying” man checked out of the hospital two days later. A woman climbed a flight of stairs two days after her double knee replacements.
The truth is very ordinary. We are connected to a Power For Good that is Love working through spiritual law. Since this power is unlimited, we are connected to unlimited power. That connection works better when we pray. When we pray we have a trained mind making conscious connections, that focus on the Infinite Power to achieve definite results.
This is the month to enroll in Science of Mind classes to train your mind to pray more effectively. You can learn how to do positive prayer work in a local Center For Positive Living or take classes online. You can even begin by reading. My book, Science of Mind Skills covers the basic ideas. Anyone can train his or her mind to achieve powerful things.
Today, I’ve written a snapshot of how affirmative prayer works. But it is only a snapshot. There are many sayings that offer shorthand descriptions. One phrase you hear in every Science of Mind Center is “Change your thinking and change your life.” Another way to explain the process is to say, God mirrors our beliefs.
I’ve see so many dreams come true in my 23 years in the ministry. I’ve seen amazing successes for people in every area of their lives. These ranged from finding a job as a substitute teacher to building a huge business depending on the goals of the person involved. For the Creative Power of the Universe, one success was as easy as the other because God can do anything.
I’ve seen dying bodies healed, dying relationships recovered, money earned, a million won, grade averages raised and homes refinanced. You name it, you envision it and prayer can accomplish it. God is simply unlimited and says yes.
I was a true believer long before I became a minister. I built my own very successful writing career (80 teen books as Jane Claypool Miner & Veronica Ladd) when I was a beginning SOM student. I saw prayer work like magic because I wrote unsuccessfully for ten years and then I started to pray. What was an impossible goal all those years became as easy as pie. I achieves “overnight success”!
I didn’t go down on my knees and beg. Instead. I spent my time and energy opening up a new level of acceptance. SOM practitioners know that God is the Creative Energy of the Universe and can create anything we can envision, believe and embody in consciousness.
The trick is to find ways to accept more and there are lots and lots of ways to do that. Increasing our level of acceptance is the true purpose of classes. Whether it is a basic Science of Mind class that teaches how God works through spiritual laws or a background class on Emerson and the Transcendentalists, the aim of the teacher is to help students open up to more good in their lives.
Do I know how to pray?
Do I want to take a class?
Do I want to read a book?
What more do I desire in life?
What do I believe about that desire?
A good friend has been away for three weeks and I was very happy to talk with her this morning. She is a treasure who has been in my life for at least twenty years. A far-away friend is visiting next week; she is a treasure I have known even longer. I consider all my friends – new and longer – true treasures.
I’m not the only one who thinks her friends are treasures. Louisa Mae Alcott said, “A faithful friend is a strong defense; And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.” I have no idea what Louisa Mae was defending herself against with her friendships but I do know how my friends enhance my life in many ways.
Good friends bring me joy. When I am connected at a heart level, I can actually feel joy for their blessings and achievements in life. I can participate in my friend’s delight because her daughter is gets into a good college. Good friends enable me to embrace a wider world.
They also make me stretch and grow. I can be thrilled when my friend’s book makes the bestseller list. Good friends enable me to dilute that grizzly old error of competiveness.
Another blessing that good friends bring me is a window on the world. Often, my friends and I have very different backgrounds, experiences, ages, and histories. I have several friends who grew up in upper middle class families and went to prep school and Ivy League colleges. They help me understand an American experience that is very different from my beginnings.
I also have friends who are immigrants from England, Poland, Canada, Mexico, Peru, China, and Korea. They help me see the United States in its very best light. My treasured friends make me less insular in my world view.
Having friends with very different backgrounds requires me to accept them as they are and not waste time wondering why they aren’t exactly like me. I don’t look for agreement. Like Walt Whitman, I contain multitudes.
I have been blessed with good friends all my adult life. It started in high school when I gave up trying to be “in” with the most popular crowd and began to choose own friends. One of them was a girl of Japanese-American background who had just left an internment camp. She showed me what meticulous ambition could look like and she went on to be head nurse at Presbyterian Hospital. She taught me a lot. When you look back at your early friendships, can you see how they helped you learn new lessons?
Of course, friendships blossom and wane. There were many wonderful people in my past who are no longer on my active friend list. Times change. People move away or die. Interests disappear. It doesn’t mean I treasure them less, just that I don’t see them as often.
When I was a young mother, my best friends and I shared our love for our children and our concern for their growth. I learned from them all – the mothers and the children.
I learned a profound lesson from a friend I didn’t really think was a very good mother. She had a drinking problem and I’m happy to report that she eventually gave up alcohol. After her daughter was grown, she told me that her daughter said, “You don’t need to feel guilty, Mom. You gave me the greatest gift of all – you showed me that people can change.”
We can all change and that is one of life’s greatest lessons. I have made plenty of mistakes over the years and I have leaned on that story. I assuage my guilt by reminding myself of my friend’s experience. Have you learned any profound lessons from your friend’s problems?
Do you have friends that share your dreams? When I was a beginning writer I belonged to a group that met weekly to share their hopes, dreams and writing experiences. They were very, very good friends for several years and then I moved away and I also lost interest in writing young adult books.
I found my some of my strongest, and longest friendships when I got sober. I will always be grateful to my Twelve Step friends. They were there for me when I most needed a friend. My sponsor was such a good friend that I still miss him although he’s been gone for at least eight years. There were many others. I treasure their memories because they saved me from my very worst self-destructive self. What more could anyone ask of a friend?
Most of my current friendships are people I meet in the ministry. Some are members of my own center. Others are ministers and former ministers I know through the Religious Science organization. We all share an interest in using Science of Mind in our lives. That makes us mutually supportive and lovely to be with. No gossip. No rivalries. No “ain’t it awful” conversation. My Science of Mind friends help me remember that God is Love.
Actually, all my friends have taught me that God is love, and that life is good. I cannot imagine going through life without good, strong friendships. We all need to be connected to others. We can actually experience the concept of God as love when we are with our friends.
One of the most important things that religion provides is a sense of unity with life. Whether it is sitting on a park bench with other parents watching our toddlers play or holding the hand of our friend who has received bad news, we feel connected when we are with friends. We treasure that feeling of togetherness.
Friends are important. We need to reach out, nurture and consciously grow friendships with others. It is wise to be wise to be pro-active about friendships. I have observed, over the years, that many people feel isolated. When others reach out to them, they say yes, but they don’t always make the initial invitation to friendship.
If you want more friends, you need to put aside any old beliefs and be assertive. Why not make a few overtures yourself? Why not ask someone to go out for coffee after the meeting? Why not make a phone call to someone you haven’t seen for a while? Why not introduce yourself to the church newcomer? Those are all simple first steps anyone can take.
Do I treasure my friends?
Is there an old friend I want to reconnect with?
Is there someone new I’d like to know better?
I got sober in Mexico many years ago. Although, my Spanish was poor, I listened intently to the proffered wisdom from my peers. There was one man with large handlebar mustaches who used to smile broadly and say, “Poco A Poco, nos vamos lejos”. That translates (more or less) as “Little by little, we go a long way.”
I have repeated that piece of simple wisdom to myself many, many times in the subsequent years. As I began to put my life into shape, I would sometimes despair at how much there was to do. That little saying helped me to achieve my goals. It still helps me.
In New Thought, we believe, as we pray, that instant healing is happening, but many goals take time to achieve. It is good to keep the vision of the completed goal in mind but it is also important to move toward our dreams on a daily basis.
You can’t lose a hundred pounds in a weekend. Nor can you build a financial empire in a day. It usually takes time to change our consciousness enough to get what we want. In that process of change, it is important to remember that if we give up and stop trying we will not acieve the goal.
We have all had the experience of making a New Year’s resolution and then reverting to our old behavior by Valentine’s Day. That’s when my friend’s expression, “Poco a poco, nos vamos lejos,” comes in handy. Staying the course is the best way to get where we want to go.
Mark Twain has a famous quote about how easy it is to give up smoking and then he says, he knows it is easy because he has given it up so many, many times. That is funny but it is also pathetic. How many times do we let our impatience discourage us?
I am an expert on accomplishing big dreams despite inner and outer obstacles. In my lifetime, I’ve worked my way though college, had successful careers as a teacher, writer and minister. I’ve written over 80 books and many shorter works. I’ve quit drinking, smoking and eating obsessively. None of these things were exactly easy but some were much easier than others.
Once I asked for help and stopped drinking, I was fortunate because I never slipped. I suppose that was an instant healing but I had to change a lot of social habits and patterns of thought to keep from slipping. Nevertheless, I am very grateful it went so well.
Not all people find it that easy. I had a dear friend who went to meetings off and on for fourteen years before he finally got a full year of sobriety under his belt. When he shared his story with me, he said he was ashamed it took so long and I remember thinking he was one of the most courageous people I’d ever known.
It is difficult to make a goal or resolution and fail but we should never let that be the end of the story. What we need to do is pick up the dream, dust it off, and start again. Little by little, we will discover whatever it is that we need to know in order to get what we want.
I gave up smoking after a truly insane week as the nicotine worked its way out of my system. I do not exaggerate – my physical addiction to cigarettes was very powerful and the craving continued for quite a while. I have never been tempted to smoke again because I never wanted to go through the pain of withdrawal again.
Two healings of addictions went well. On the other hand, it took me myriad attempts to heal compulsive eating. I did manage to lose a hundred pounds but it took many years. I’m still working on losing more. Over those years of diet struggles, I went to Overeaters Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and nutrition classes in the local hospital. I failed and failed and failed again.
I continued to pray and struggle. I read several books on dieting. They all had different food plans and ideas and I suppose they all would have worked if I’d stuck with them. Eventually, I decided just to count calories and that worked. Very slowly – but it worked. I’d write my calories in a notebook each day, and total them at the end of the week. The next week, I’d start all over again. Little by little, I went a long way and that was because I never gave up.
Not all goals are so difficult. However, many of our best dreams do require perseverance. You can eventually achieve most of them if you stick with the vision over the long haul. Steadfastness is the key.
One very important thing to remember as you pursue your dreams is that you must do so, one day at a time. It is good to have a big goal in mind, but very, very helpful to cut your goal into small sections. Keeping the dream alive is wonderful and there are pitfalls if you insist on only focusing on the final result.
I have found it is better to pray to stay on my eating plan this day than to tell God to give me a perfect sized body NOW. If I starve myself for a week and discover I’ve only lost two pounds, I don’t want to fall into despair and start binge eating.
I learned the one day at a time method in 12 step rooms but it works for everything – not just addictive behavior. For example, if you sit down at your desk to write a book and begin by reminding yourself that you have to write at least 50,000 words before it will be finished, you will paralyze yourself before you start. I suggest you aim for a certain number of hours working on the book each day. Or you can set a goal of 1000 words a day. Above all, don’t let lapses in achievement be the reason for quitting.
One thing you can do for yourself that will truly speed up your progress is to pray for your goal on a daily basis. You can also spend some time visualizing how it is going to feel and look when you have arrived at your destination. Systematic prayer and visualization is an important part of any achievement plan.
What are your desired dreams? Do you want to make more friends? Improve your golf score? Get more exercise? Learn a foreign language? Paint beautiful pictures? You can achieve your desires, poco a poco while you are enjoying life. Just be sure to stick with the dream.
Is there an old dream I want to dust off and begin to work on again?
Is there a way to split that goal into smaller increments?