Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Day 12 - POWER THROUGH PRAYER

Belief in a Supreme Being or Higher Power – tapping into one's relationship with the Supreme Being increases one's own abilities and power.

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind." - Albert Einstein

The vast majority of humans on this planet (one recent survey has it as high as 96% in America) recognize some sort of higher power. Factually, atheists are a very small minority. And many of these are agnostics, meaning that for them, the jury is still out on the matter.

The connection between self-help and this higher power is insisted upon in most self-help books and merely recognized as a given in the rest. Haanel and Wattles call this power by different names and give other technical details about the connection. Dr. Peale is very direct in connecting the benefits of self-help directly with God, giving many, many examples and techniques directly associated with New and Old Testament Scriptures. Al Ghazzali also directly links self-improvement with Allah, quoting different parts of the Koran in doing so. (During this search, I did not find any Buddhist or other religion's bestselling self-improvement books that met the requisites for this study; principally this book was written with Western thought on the matter; in the book's Appendix, there is a short summary and conclusion about the books used in the original study.)

Undeniably, then, if a person is to get the most out of his own course in self-improvement, one must take God, or the Universal Mind, or any other phrasing, into account. (While there might be a commonality between religions, this is another study and beyond the scope of this book. For our arguments here, and due to the almost identical approach that the authors mentioned have used, we'll consider that they are all talking about the same Entity.) Probably the most interesting point in writing this chapter is that there are so many different opinions about God – probably as many as there are grains of sand or pebbles on the beach – every person has a slightly different one. Without purposely stepping on anyone's toes on thissubject, let's boil down what these various authors hold in common in relation to God and self-help:

• This Power is everywhere, omnipresent, permeating all forms and matter; all parts of Creation are a part of the whole, we are all part of this Power

• As such, the Power cannot be subjugated or tricked, etc. This Power plays no favorites, makes no exceptions, is not subject to petition or sympathy ploys.

• This Power has a continuing purpose of creating forms and is the source of all supply.

• This Power deals in abundance through all its forms; this concept enables all such creations to have abundance in their own lives.

• It is through creative imagination that one is linked to this Power, which is the source of intuition, hunches, genius and inspiration.

• A person's cooperation with this Power determines one's success.

• Only through a feeling of gratitude will such a cooperative connection be possible.

• Tapping into this power is only possible through a creative, harmonious, non-competitive basis. One will receive only as one gives; what one receives will make it more possible to give.

The various religious texts and scriptures contain words which describe the above relationships and rules regarding our relationship with God, by any name. Dr. Peale, whose book is written entirely from a religious view of self-help, gives innumerable examples of people being able to use the Bible to improve their lives. And innumerable is no understatement. For every story in his book, I'm sure there are a hundred or a thousand more.

Dr. Peale also relates:

“Prayer power is a manifestation of energy. Just as there exist scientific techniques for the release of atomic energy, so there are scientific procedures for the release of spiritual energy through the mechanism of prayer.”

Consider this logically: we can approach, contact and receive gifts from an omnipresent, omnipotent source. We only have to do this in a specific manner to achieve consistent results. This seems more science than religion.

Indeed, Dr. Peale relates a story where two industrialists, perplexed by a problem, decided to pray for a solution, given the formula, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). Since this didn't get the expected results, they consulted a local preacher who pointed out additional formulaic phrases, namely, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:29), and “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24). These three prayed accordingly. After several such thorough sessions of prayer, these three all affirmed that their prayers had been answered. Investigation of the results showed that the results were satisfactory and according to their prayers.

We have, then, a precise scientific approach to improving any aspect of one's life. Part of this approach is the recognition of this Power according to the observed and tested rules these various authors have researched and written down for us.

A part of this procedure is prayer, as mentioned above. Now, all these authors do not agree upon any set formula or procedure for prayer. Dr. Peale covers a wide variety of forms that he and others use. What is common between them is that there is an open communication between the person and this Power. Haanel suggests sitting quietly, relaxed and simply opening one's thoughts to this Power, sending one's visualization and desire. Wattles adds that one must be then thankful for having received that gift, continuing along the line that one always acknowledges the receipt of anything requested in the past tense. Even the word “Amen,” according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “is generally used as an adverb of assent or confirmation--fiat, 'so let it be.'”

One of the more interesting points regarding prayer aligns with earlier points we've covered. Were one to completely eradicate non-positive thoughts from one's mind and as well adopt an ethical/moral code to keep this in place constantly in life, one could fall under the description of “living your prayer.” Actually, this is a phrase in the New Testament, “Be always joyful; pray continually; give thanks whatever happens; for this is what God in Christ wills for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Were a person to achieve this level of thought and action, according to the principles we have covered so far in this book, nothing would be impossible to achieve or acquire; all of his/her relationships would be as rewarding as he/she wished.

While this is a book of Western ideas of self-help, and so any discussion of God would bring references to the Judeo-Christian approaches, study of Al Ghazzali's The Alchemy of Happiness shows definite parallels. Though beyond the scope of this book, but given that such writings have continued through the thousands of years the Bible was written and into our current times, it is probable that the principles outlined here are universal in application, regardless of form of religion.

Day 12 Exercises:

Try this –

From Dr. Peale's book:

1.“The formula is (1) PRAYERIZE, (2)PICTURIZE, (3)ACTUALIZE.” ...

2.“To assure something worth while happening, first pray about it and test it according to God's will; then print a picture of it on your mind as happening, holding the picture firmly in consciousness. Continue to surrender the picture to God's will – that is to say, put the matter in God's hands – and follow God's guidance. Work hard and intelligently, thus doing your part to hold the picturization firmly in your thoughts. Do this and you will be astonished at the strange ways in which the picturization comes to pass. In this manner the picture “actualizes.” That which you have “prayerized” and “picturized” “actualizes” according to the pattern of your basic realizable wish when conditioned by invoking God's power upon it, and if, moreover, you give fully of yourself to its realization.”
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