Dr. Ellerby's Ancient Pathways to Spiritual Awakening.
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Overcoming Prayer Pitfalls: A One Week Prayer Intensive

Posted: June 29, 2010

The trap we find among the prayerful lies in the laziness of the mind and tendency for people to use their prayers to pre-occupy the mind and catharsizes the heart, rather than applying the intent of one seeking spiritual awakening and intimate connection with The Sacred. It is natural to find people doing what's easy. Many fall into the trap of letting their prayers become a breeding ground for worry and escapism. More concerning, a gallup poll in 1994 showed that at least 5% of American's admitted to praying for harmful things to happen to others. Assuming that most would not be bold enough to admit this, there is a concern that people want to harness the power of prayer for something other than enlightenment and healing. Many also admit that prayer is often a time of selfish requesting, rather than meaningful aspiring. If you prayer life is always about what you want, and you leave no time for reflection, gratitude, or deep listening, it is likely leading to a spiritual glass ceiling (getting stuck). Prayers based on desire have a simple value, but do not offer much for the seeker of peace, balance and spiritual experience. Using prayer or prayer styles as the basis for condemning or discriminating against others run totally contrary to spiritual awakening. It should be noted that in all the scientific studies no one religion has been shown to have the 'right' prayer or the 'most effective.' In fact, research shows that in general optimistic thinking has a positive effect on the body and mind; clear intentions have a amplifying effect on attracting what you wish for; but open prayers of faith and trust in a higher power seem to have the greatest impact and potency to help and heal. Prayers such as 'thy will be done' or 'I release (this situation) into the light, and let go of my attachment to (this harmful emotion)…' create the most healthful and transforming outcomes. As with all paths to awakening, prayer is about entering into a co-creative relationship with The Sacred, and not about having things our way. Take Home Exercise: Try a one week prayer intensive This simple practice will challenge your discipline, but will quickly introduce you to the power of prayer. After the week's practice you will likely want to modify the practice to create a more personal pattern that reflects what you liked and didn't. Part 1: Every morning, for one week, within 30 minutes of waking up take the time to read or say a formal prayer. You can choose one from your traditions, find one in a book or ask for one from a spiritual guide. Read/say the prayer twice. Then take a few minutes to reflect on what you'd like your day to be like, prayer or set the intention to grow or heal in whatever way necessary to fulfill your vision. Be sure to take some nice deep breaths before and immediately following the prayer. Before you go on with your day take five minutes to sit quietly. You may add others prayers and reflections as you wish. Part 2: Just before you eat any meal, pause and silently, or out loud take a moment to feel and express gratitude for your food. Pray that it will have a healing power for your body, mind, heart and spirit. This can take just a few moments and does not have to be elaborate. Part 3: Just before bed, take another moment to breathe deeply, slow down your body and mind, and reflect on what you are grateful for in your day and your life. Keep it simple, try to think of new things each night. It may help to keep a simple log sheet or mark your calendar. Try this program for one week, and do your best not to miss a session. Excerpt from Return to the Sacred
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