by Reverend Lana Charlton
The first peril of prayer is that your prayer will be answered. One of my favorite country songs is by Garth Brooks entitled, “Thank God for Unanswered Prayer.” The song suggests he sees his high school sweetheart with his loving wife by his side, and remembers how often he had prayed that girl would be his wife. Thank God, for unanswered prayer.
Prayer is described as our time when we talk to the Great One, God, or whatever name works for you. We don’t always recognize that at times
we are praying unconsciously. We are told to pray, believing. What have you been really believing in lately? Changing the word believe to “be-live” is enlightening. How have you been putting your beliefs into actions by your be-living? We are reminded, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Mt.9:29) Be-living is expressing your faith in action. Honestly, what have you placed your faith in lately?
The second peril of prayer is that you may be directed in another direction. Most people pray asking for something. We would not pray if we didn’t really want it our way. Begin your prayers with, “thank you in advance,” as Jesus often did. End your prayers with, “this or something better.” That reminds you that maybe an even greater job is around the corner.
The third peril is some things just take time. A tomato plant will not offer tomatoes the day after it’s planted. Plant an acorn, and we know it will be many years before we see on oak. What prayers are you willing to be patient with, as the Great One grows a great garden of good through you?
Meditation is a verb, ironically, something you put into action; one dictionary describes it, “to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breath, mantra or word) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” Another dictionary suggests it is “focusing one’s thoughts, reflecting or pondering.” With these definitions everyone at some time in their lives has meditated. Fishing, watching a fire, looking out the window, walking, running, even washing dishes can be a time to be empty, reflect, watch our breath, affirm our word or just to be present to the moment.
The greatest peril of meditation is waking up to both our True self and our false self. Pema Chodron writes, “The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eye.” Jesus put it very succinctly, paraphrased, remove the log from your own eye so you can see clearly.
The false self is very alluring and the world seems enamored with big personalities. Facing the false self has been described as grabbing a tiger by the tail, wrestling with it, only to have it purring and licking our faces as we come to our True self. All wisdom teachings speak of this false self on some level. It truly takes great courage to face the perils of looking deeply at how the world has molded our thinking. All too often, we will not question our judgments and perceptions until it comes close to us. Do you remember when cancer was thought to be contagious and people with cancer were treated like AIDS patients? My personal opinion is that few conservatives would accept gays (LGBT) until it affects someone they love. Many people judged AIDS victims until “regulars” (as some might say) got it. PTSD is even now suspect to some, “just pull yourself up by your bootstraps;” but if you have no legs, no arms or both, that might be a challenge.
My prayer for you is that you take that time daily to meditate, the appointment with the Great One. Then be aware of your “be-living”, what you’re putting your faith in, and your prayers. Remember, you might get what you pray for.
Reverend Lana Charlton is the senior minister at Unity Gateway Church, Coral Springs, and writes for numerous worldwide, national and local publications. See ad this page.