The Art of
The art of prayer refers to the manner in which we feel connected to God and all the divine graces that flow from God. God is always communicating with us, streaming divine wisdom into our higher minds and then down into our body’s energy centers. Prayer is the practice of consciously seeking access to that wisdom.
There are many higher perspectives from which to view prayer, each showing how prayer can be a profound experience of God.
From one higher perspective, prayer is the skill of quieting our lower mind so that we can hear what our higher mind is saying to us in its efforts to guide us across the bridge to spiritual maturity. From another higher perspective it is the art of humbly presenting ourselves to God as we are, and asking for God’s assistance as we strive to become whom we want to be — a spiritually mature person. From still another higher perspective, when we are praying, we are honoring God as the source of all life, and re-stating our commitment to reaching our highest potential of living a ‘Godly’ life.
Prayer is an Holistic Art
Many of us have been trained to regard prayer as a settled custom of either asking God for something, or honoring God as the ‘Supreme Being’. Just as many of us are taught that prayer is talking with God without necessarily asking for anything or offering any particular type of exaltation.
For many people there are appropriate times of the day to pray; others wait for inspiration to pray; and still others regard prayer as a continuous practice.
Also, there are just as many people who like to pray in groups as there are who like to pray in solitude.
Although the one common outcome that everyone who prays desires is a conscious connection to God, prayer is a very individual thing.
So the art of prayer is an holistic one, covering many expressions. To illustrate this point, here are some of the traditional and creative ways in which people are inspired to communicate with God.
In this type of prayer we perceive our relationship with God as a ‘transactional’ one, whereby we promise God that we will do something ‘good,’ in return for God providing something we desire. Those of us who have a ‘dip-in-dip-out’ approach to God probably most often use this sort of prayer, and we engage it in order to get something that our ego is craving.
But those of us who are trying everything we can to pull a loved one out of a terrible drama also use it. The view that God is ‘allowing’ our loved one to stay in drama is cause for us to doubt the fairness of God, leading us to question whether God wants us to buy our loved one’s release from drama. As we will see shortly, this is never the case. Little do we realize when we are offering this type of prayer that the more proficient we are with the laws and principles, the more we are able to secure release for ourselves, and others. Jesus put it this way, “Put the kingdom of God first, and all things will be added unto you.”
In this type of prayer we are calling upon God as a last resort when all other choices have failed us. It usually comes into play the moment we are in some type of danger and our ego has run out of options. It can be anything from frantically calling on God to find our car keys, to achingly falling on our knees and begging God to save us from a drama.
It can be the moment of significant spiritual breakthrough. If we truly have exhausted all ego-based options to save ourselves, a desperation prayer is an act of surrender. Sometimes all God is waiting for is us to lay down our ego and submit to divine guidance. When we do, God picks us up tenderly and sets us back on our feet — facing in the direction of spiritual maturity
This type of communication with God is otherwise known as ‘scripted’ prayer. With it, we recite a pre-composed prayer that we learned from a religious or philosophical organization. There is a different prayer for each intention, and appropriate times of the day at which they are offered.
This type of prayer has the comfort of ritual and tradition, plus a community atmosphere that many of us find spiritually enriching. When offered by a group in an organized meeting it can build a concentration of energy that lifts the mood of all in attendance. But it can also drain the energy of the group. Key to which way the energy will move is the purity of intention behind the prayer — heartfelt intention behind the words will raise the energy; mindless recitation of the script will lower the energy.
This approach to prayer involves asking God to deliver things to us, in God’s capacity of ‘provider.’ It does not require us to give anything to God in return — it is simply stating our requirements and waiting for their arrival. When done by a group this sort of prayer is a strength-in-numbers method for getting God’s attention. It has political overtones, whereby if God is lobbied properly, God can be persuaded into seeing things our way, and come through for us. That said, if the intention is pure — in the sense that it accords with the spiritual laws and principles — a group petition can be a very effective force for the raising of society’s energy.
Dancing, whirling, kneeling, and bowing are all forms of personal expression in honor of God. They are full-body acts of prayer that symbolize our desire to shake off our ego and devote ourselves to God. Like the dutiful, scripted approach to prayer, physical actions have the aura of ritual and tradition. Moving the body in this way has a hypnotic effect on us that in the most pure context draws us deep into our inner layers of energy to connect in deep love with God. But in the mindless context, this form of prayer can convince us that the mere physical act alone is pleasing to God, and no further reflection is needed. Given physical-expression prayer usually is done in a group, it is another form of prayer that can raise or lower the energy of a room depending on the purity of intention behind it.
Chanting and mantras
Many spiritual philosophies connect to the higher realms through slowly chanting vowel sounds at pitches mirroring the vibration rates of the different energy centers in the body. In this manner we are able to link our personal energy to the higher realms, and thus strengthen and heal our bodies. This is done with the intention of understanding the relationship between energetic vibration and health. The chanting also sends energy waves out into the ether, helping to purify the Earth’s vibration.
Other philosophies use mantras to purify the body’s vibration rates. Words have energy as much as anything else does. If our mindfulness practice alerts us to a pattern of harboring anger, we can silently chant to ourselves a single calming word, over and over. The word to dilute anger might be ‘peace,’ or ‘justice,’ or even ‘God.’ This mantra sends a new, pure vibration to the energy centers that at that moment are clogged with anger. When the vibration reaches the energy centers, it weakens the anger pattern, and cleanses our energy. This, too, is understanding the relationship between energetic vibration and health through manifesting our own emotional healing in the way many masters — including Jesus and Rumi — did regularly.
In the past decade or so the practice of offering positive ‘affirmations’ of ourselves has risen as a form of praising God. The perspective is that by audibly affirming our self-worth to ourselves, we are defying our ego’s attempts to keep us in negative self-judgment. By defying our ego like this we are taking back control of our health and general wellbeing, through changing the nature of the energy we are directing into our body’s cells. This clears our channels for communicating with God, and we are able to make higher-potential decisions for managing our lives. By affirming our self-value like this, we are praising God’s creation.
Many artists will tell you that when they are composing music, writing poetry, or putting together works of fine art, they are doing so as an expression of the creative and expansive genius that is God.
The expansive physical effect on the brain that Baroque and Classical music are proven to have implies that in the 16th and 17th Centuries, waves of composers incarnated as an overall ‘soul group’ to introduce a higher-vibration style of music. Our brain’s music receptors light up when we listen to the music composed in those eras, and the vibrations filter down into our energy centers, soothing them after they have been affected by the toxins our egos keep shooting into them. Pachabel, Vivaldi, and Bach were part of the Baroque group; Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn were part of the Classical. There were hundreds more composers in each group of energy-raisers. When we listen to their music we are listening to divine rhythms and pitches that purify and heal our energy in the same way that chanting and mantras do.
The poet Hafiz incarnated to teach us that the true nature of God is sparkling and joyous, not somber and punitive, and certainly not to be feared. A thousand years after Hafiz, the poet Kahlil Gibran incarnated to teach us a higher perspective approach to our Earthly cares like marriage, work, clothing, and money. When we read either of these two poets’ works of insight into God’s ‘mind,’ we are seeing the truly loving nature of God, and the utmost respect that God has for each one of us incarnated on Earth.
Leonardo Davinci and Michael Angelo took risks to include in their paintings esoteric signs that God’s true nature differed from what religions of that era were promoting. It was a dangerous thing to do at a time of brutal religious orthodoxy, but their incarnations were orchestrated to plant the seeds of enlightenment, and they successfully carried out their missions.
When we are
being creative like this, or enjoying the creativity of others, we are honoring
God’s plan for the raising of humanity’s energy. This is a form of prayer that
is pleasurably and leisurely interactive with God.
Going through life with the perspective that God can be found in every single detail of it is sacred awareness of the holistic nature of existence. This awareness is in praise of God, and therefore is a prayer form. There are no words to be said, no songs to be sung, no dances to be danced — just pure appreciation for the artistic genius of God.
For example, within the awareness approach, grass is a green carpet of healing; the sky is the blue portal to expansiveness; running water is the purity bath for cleansing emotions. Have you ever walked down a path that is lined either side by giant trees? People who practice awareness as a form of prayer would see that path as the knave of the grandest cathedral, and the trees the marble columns holding up the cathedral’s ceiling — the sky.
Meditation is the art of stilling the lower mind so as to be able to hear what the higher mind is telling it. This is not as easy as it sounds, for the lower mind has a lot to say and very little ability to stay focused on ‘nothing.’ Meditation’s relationship to prayer is that it is showing God our intention to defy our ego and live permanently from the higher mind’s perspective. This is God’s intention for all of us, as when we are living in that state we have restored our conscious connection to the divine. When that connection is as strong as God needs it to be, we can then work to raise the energy of those around us, and eventually the entire Earth.
The Higher-Potential Approaches to Prayer
Each of the ascended masters and spiritual exemplars incarnated to help us understand God better. One of the ways they did this was by demonstrating high-potential ways to pray.
There was a universal thread to the perspectives they taught.
When Praying for Your Self
Prayer is not a passive exercise. It is an active two-way relationship between God and ourselves, whereby we ask God for insight, and when given it, we act on it. God sends that insight in many ways. An inspired new idea, a renewed commitment to discipline, a sudden resolve to push through an emotional barrier, an unexpected window of understanding of someone, and even a complete emotional breakdown — all these are ways that God participates in our development towards spiritual maturity.
By sending us hints and clues for what action to take to solve our problems, God is asking us to make choices that will bring us out of our dramas. The choices will always be related to the perspective we are taking with our issue. God’s insight may come in the form of a hunch that we should change our thoughts on the matter, or it may be an affirmation to sustain the perspective we have already taken. Whatever its nature, it will be an invitation to exercise choice, and then to act on that choice.
What God doesn’t do is solve our problems outright for us. If God were to fix our problems without us having to change any aspect of our thinking patterns, we would not have grown a millimeter towards spiritual maturity. As the whole point of incarnating on Earth is to reach spiritual maturity, there would be no lasting spiritual benefit to us of God taking all the responsibility for getting us out of our issues while we sit expectantly and watch.
When Praying for Others
The laws and principles make it quite clear that we must refrain from trying to control others through force. It is one thing to lead a person who wants to be led, but quite another to force a person to do something for which they are not ready or that they simply don’t want to do. When it comes to prayer, these laws and principles do not blend or flex.
The ascended masters teach us that the compassionate approach to praying for someone who is wrapped up in drama is to ask God to help that person see their situation with utmost high-potential clarity. We ask God to help that person gain control of their ego, to make contact with their divine wisdom, to muster the stamina and grit to get themselves out of their own drama. The reason we pray for others in this way is the same reason that God doesn’t solve our problems for us — our loved one won’t grow at all if they don’t make changes to the way they think.
In other words, we resist the urge to pray for God to disregard what the person wants for their self, and to have God make the person do what we, personally, want them to.
This may be one of the most personally challenging elements of divine logic that we will face in our initiation into the higher-potential expressions of life. Our desire to help our loved ones is so, so strong that we will do anything — even co-opt their free-will rights — to set them free from their pain. But know that when we have mastered the higher-perspective approach to compassion, we will have passed one of the most important initiations for access to the soaring mountain of the finer realms.
Respecting God’s Framework for Growth
By filtering every thought and experience through the higher perspective we are honoring God. This is because we are showing God we are sincerely committed to living under the guidance that will restore our conscious connection with the divine. The ascended masters who collectively introduced the laws and principles on behalf of God tell us that living in accordance with this framework — this ‘holy word’ — is truly connecting with God.
Daily reflecting on our actions from the higher perspective is an act of prayer. Reflection on the not-quite-right choices we made during our day prepares us for how to respond the next time a similar situation pops up. And it will pop up — as an initiation confirming our next step towards full maturity. If we can follow through on our resolution to respond from the higher perspective, we have made a major advancement. By repeating this response thereafter, we will move rapidly across the bridge to spiritual maturity.
When we reach the stage of being in a constant state of higher-perspective mindfulness, we are at the same time in a constant state of prayer. Remembering that God is streaming divine wisdom into our higher mind and down into our energy centers, when we are accessing this energy by engaging our higher mind, we are purposefully connecting with God. That is the essence of prayer.
Disciplining the Lower Mind; Engaging the Higher Mind
The busy lives that many of us are leading are full of distracting tasks and duties that keep us from feeling peaceful. The idle lives so many others of us are leading are full of lower-potential imagination and mindless leisure that also keep us from feeling peaceful.
Only connection with God can bring us true peace. ‘Peace’ in this context does not mean political truce between disagreeing or warring parties. It means the calmness and serenity that lies beyond words and surface civility, and in the inner layers of our being — the energy centers that harbor our divine wisdom. As ascended master Jesus said, “The kingdom of God lies within.”
The only way to access these inner layers of divine peace is by achieving stillness of our lower mind and our physical body. When quiet in this manner, the divine light that is constantly streaming into us shines directly onto our ego, profoundly washing it out, weakening it. If we find being still an intensely uncomfortable experience, it is because our ego is doing everything it can to keep our attention on it. Imagine it as a toddler throwing every toy in its toy box at us to keep us from ignoring it. Ascended master Gautama Buddha described it as demons swooping and diving at his mind, taunting him to give in to them as he sat in stillness under the Bodhi tree.
The ascended masters guide us to push past our ego’s tantrum. They tell us to remind ourselves that we are the ones in control of ourselves — the ego is not. The serenity and grace that is a feature of our highest potential comes from this stillness amidst the surface noise of competitive drama.
Meditation — the art of quieting the mind and touching the stillness within — is a key practice that connects us with God’s vibration. When we engage it, we are in prayer with God.
Daily Rituals for Maintaining Focus
There are simple things we can do throughout our day to draw our attention to God. Many ascended masters suggest we find a short mantra to repeat various times during our waking hours that will keep our focus on what we are trying to achieve — spiritual maturity. The mantra could be a plea, or an affirmation, or an observation that relates to spiritual growth.
Other quick rituals we can do to bring our focus back to God are touching our fingers swiftly to our heart, visualizing the golden beam of light pouring into our higher mind, or simply looking to something wondrous that recurs in nature — anything that draws our focus back to the divine.
Prayer is a Private Experience
Not everyone will want to change the way they pray just because an ascended master or spiritual exemplar has suggested it. The way we pray is intensely personal, and completely our own. Each person’s relationship to God is private and is for no other person to interfere with. This is because each person faces the laws and principles in their own way, due to their own unique makeup, social conditioning, and experiences. No route to spiritual maturity is the same as another person’s — ever. Therefore no manner of communication with God will be the same from one person to the next.
Prayer is a crucial tool for working with the laws and principles. Some of the initiations we will face as we strive to reach our highest potential are challenging — that is the nature of initiations. In those times, we will find ourselves calling on prayer for the insight, strength, and gentle solace that only God can provide.