Tag Archives: prayer

Inclusiveness: Direction vs. Location

I am currently making my way through the book of 2 Chronicles. In chapter 6 is Solomon’s prayer to God after having built God’s temple (house) in Jerusalem.

The thing that first caught my eye about Solomon’s request was that he was able to include¬†everyone, even “foreigners,” in his request that God hear our prayers, by asking that God not only hear the prayers of those actually at the temple, but also those facing in the direction of the temple. So Solomon transforms his religion into something accessible to everyone, no matter where they are.

Inclusiveness is very important to me. The inclusive message of Jesus resonates so deeply for me, and to find it beginning this far back is exciting.

Here are the verses which describe the concentration of God’s presence in one location:

“…when they pray in the direction of their land which you gave their fathers, and of the city you have chosen, and of the house which I have built to your honor…” 2 Chronicles 6:38

Now, of course, I believe that God’s presence is concentrated within each of our hearts, so that we have only to face inward, that is, pray in the direction of our interior depths, where Christ has a temple and where the Holy Spirit fills us.

But I can see how Solomon with his God given wisdom started humanity down this path of everyone being able to stand in relation to Spirit (direction) to give all people access to Spirit, not just those lucky enough to be part of a certain group worshiping at a certain altar (location).

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Blessings

As my understanding of spirituality shifts further from the external to the internal, I have new appreciation for certain aspects, such as blessings.

Having heard since I was born people say grace to bless the food, I always understood it as an external invocation to God to come from wherever He’s hanging out to give extra fantastic goodness to what we were about to eat. The aspect of how corrupt, or at best neutral, everything is until we beg for blessing and receive it, or not, depending on God’s whim, never sat well with me. Pride? Ego? Who knows.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:4-5: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer.”

At the outset, everything God creates is good. It is good in and of itself, whether or not any human ever says or intends anything with regard to it. The thing, say it’s corn on the cob, is already blessed, as Buddha would point out, by the sunshine, by the rainwater, by the insects that helped pollinate it or the animals who scattered the seed or the human who harvested it. All the energy that’s gone into it becomes Oneness, the whole world comes together in unified effort for the food in front of us. That is Love. That is God. What other blessing could possibly be required?

But Paul says that the prayer is important. Not for the food, but for us. In Romans 14:14 Paul says “I know and am convinced in the lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; still, it is unclean for someone who thinks it unclean.”

The prayer is for the benefit of the eater, not to create a blessing within the food, because that is already there. But to prepare oneself, body-mind-soul, to receive the indwelling blessing. To embrace it. To allow it to transform them into Oneness.

The power of the mind joins with the power of the Spirit.

Just like the placebo effect has real results, so as we are convinced that things are good, wholesome, healing, blessed, nourishing, so their inherent and natural effect on us is amplified.

It is not your lips making noises that brings blessing from wherever. It is your own heart opening to receive the blessings that already fill our world – this is the prayer.

Use the Force, Luke

In his book The Wind is My Mother, Bear Heart talks about the power of prayer as being the focusing of the power of the Great Spirit (read “God” or “The Force” if either makes you more comfortable) into a specific need. He puts it in a context of requesting that the power be focused; he’s not claiming that he can force spiritual energy to do his bidding or anything. Very humble man.

But his analogy really struck me. He likens the focused power of spirit to the focused light of the sun: sunlight can burn paper, but you can’t just lay the paper out there and expect anything to happen. Huge amounts of sunlight pour down, but don’t have any effect until you focus them with that magnifying glass, and then, as if by magic, poof, your paper goes up in flames.

In the same way, we are surrounded constantly by incredible amounts of spiritual energy at all times, but we don’t just go up in flames spontaneously. Using tools, such as words of prayer, chanting, dancing, or whatever trappings we choose, but the most important element being focused intention/attention, we can respectfully request (which is essentially an attempt at manipulation… how much different that manipulation is from physically manipulating an object in space only the individual can experience) that the energy be concentrated and go toward a specific purpose.

I suspect that all the begging of a Divine Personality usually associated with “prayer” as is common in Christianity (and many other religions) is just a safeguard against the individual practitioner becoming disrespectful, egotistical, prideful, etc. I don’t think it often succeeds in preventing these conditions, but at least the attempt is there.

I think that, as seems to be the case with the fictitious Jedi knights, there are other more mature ways to ensure a respectful attitude and to be mindful of one’s proximity to the “Dark Side.”

But I really enjoyed Bear Heart’s analogy and I feel like the visual it presents is extremely helpful in trying to understand something that is essentially beyond human comprehension.