During a recent PIPR – Personal Inner Peace Retreat – this question arose, Do I watch what happens and pray, or do I pray and watch what happens?
This may seem like some sort of trick question, but the fact is, it points to a rather subtle distinction in view to approaching the Divine.
The first part of the question – watching and then praying – is essentially, for lack of a better term, a reactionary mode of prayer – informed by circumstances, ego, or the finite mind, which thinks it knows what is best for the entire Being.
The latter – praying and watching – is a prayer of pro-action and creativity, the “prayer of faith” that is the source of unfoldment, rather than a reaction to something already underway. It is a prayer that precedes, and perhaps catalyzes, rather than reacts to events. This kind of prayer is informed not by circumstances, but by Divine Mind.
This latter mode of prayer is Jesus way – standing up and saying, “Peace, be still!” to the storm. He wasn’t reacting to it; He took command of it within union with the Father. He asks nothing. He informs the storm that this is how it’s going to be.
Many of us live our lives in a reactionary mode. It’s a lifetime M.O. of assessing damages and doing damage control, bailing out the boat, repairing the tattered sails, and attempting to sail on, only to be beset by another tempest. Especially in the current times. Most of the methodologies approaching this are reactionary or resistant modalities rather than creative acts. This includes our prayers and spiritual practices. A little honest self-examination will reveal that this may be the case.
How often do we hear the phrase, “Now we can only pray”? It’s as if it’s the last resort when every other finite possibility has been exhausted. It’s “last straw praying”, which means that God has functionally been out of the picture and is the last rather than the first to be considered or consulted. It’s the prayer that is backwards in essence – “My will not Thy will be done.” We use God when we need Him in an advisory capacity. When finite grasping at straws has come to an end, then it finally occurs to us to approach the Infinite! When you think about it, this is insane. It’s the essence of the bumper sticker “God is my co-pilot”, the soft drink dispenser God – put in your dollar and things go better with God.
However, there is the other approach, the latter approach of praying and then watching what unfolds – what is called “the prayer of faith”. This is praying from a space of awareness of Creator Oneness, not fear and vague hope. We’re informed by Scripture that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We could call that a knowing about something that is to be brought forth. “Faith” is also not mere belief, but knowledge that precedes manifestation, “seeing before it comes into being”. Faith is having a deep inner conviction about something.
Learning to pray from that different perspective involves a refusal and renunciation of all reactive attitudes, thoughts, words, or deeds from oneself, as well as a careful self examination, with the help of the Holy Spirit, concerning what these reactions might look like. Sometimes it’s very surprising and unsettling, but this always points us to answers!
This kind of attitude in prayer moves away from reaction and resistance, whether that means violent resistance or even non-violent resistance. And there is already so much resistance out there in today’s social and political climate!
What is metaphysically feasible is that all the reacting is actually energy that feeds the current conundrum, since the axiom is: what you resist will persist, and what you fear shall appear, what you believe you shall receive. Thus is you are focusing on and spreading about the “ain’t it awful” mentality, you actually contribute to is. (And anyone of that mindset is probably reacting strongly if they are reading this!)
Another principle may be called upon, and that is that everything changes and moves. Consequently when all the “lessons” learned through the current crises have been made known, this too shall pass. Nothing is static. Everything changes! The pendulum will swing again here in the physical dualistic realms of space, time, and the energy matter matrix.
Based upon this, there is the option to back off and focus on a new reality, beyond the current status quo, created from within, arising from contact with the Divine Presence. That is the real purpose of prayer and spiritual practice – to bask in Divine Presence, not to ask for solutions, but to surrender the will and the ego to the Divine Presence, which absorbs us back into Itself, from a “fallen” state (lower frequency), restoring our being into its original Oneness-Awareness with the Supernal Creator.
And it is from this vantage point that we pray! It is the space of the visionary, not the space of playing villains and victims.
God knows what we need before we can even ask! So reaction is not prayer, nor is it doing God’s will, or the idea of being used by God. It is purely ego that is always in a reactive mode. Such prayers may make us “feel better”, but truth be told, seldom are they answered. And the issues remain. We just convince ourselves that God is saying, “Wait!”
If there is anything to be learned through times like these, it is that we might consider moving on into a creative rather than reactive state of mind and being. Thus simple meditation – showing up and sitting silently in the Presence of God as the intention – is a very good place to begin that different vantage point of praying and then watching what happens!
The essence of “atonement” could be re-pronounced “at-one-ment”. The entire creation is made of sound, of vibration. It’s all about the “music of the spheres”! The question then is, are you in harmony with, at one with, The Heavenly Father, the Supernal Creator, or is your reactionary spirituality simply off in its own world vibrating at its own frequency, doing its own thing, self-deceived, and thus never making contact?
The only way that contact is going to be made is through surrendering the will and the entire being to Divine Presence when in prayer, meditation, contemplation, study or any spiritual activity or practice. There is no other reason for being in a spiritual practice other than to be attuned to the holy, Divine Mind of God! Father really does know best!
Being in this Presence is the experience of amazing, sublimating Grace, which grants this ascent up the harmonious scale and into this state of at-one-ment and the awareness of at-one-ment. It is not automatic. Going into spiritual practice or prayer for any other reason is useless.
These are not easy words, but if you are wondering why things don’t change, or your prayers are not answered the way you’d like them to be, it may be because you’ve been watching and praying, instead of praying and watching… and rejoicing!
Thus the best, simplest prayer is, “Not my will, but Thy will be done. Thank You!”