THE IMPORTANCE AND POWER OF PRAYER
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© July 2010, The Center For Development
Prayer is an ancient, simple and very effective method of healing, and for achieving anything else you may desire provided it is something wholesome that you actually need and will benefit from. What is more, everyone can use this method daily at no cost. This article discusses which prayers are powerful, how to meditate and pray, and why it works so well and so easily in most cases.
THE MEDITATION EXERCISE TAUGHT BY MR. ROY MASTERS
I recommend this exercise because it is one of the most powerful, safest and simplest of all the prayers or meditations I have seen. These are all important concerns when picking a meditation or prayer to do on a daily basis.
The Roy Masters exercise or system of prayer is discussed in much more detail in the article on this website entitled Meditation. This is an important article on this website, and this exercise is a key for healing at many levels.
Is meditation “of the devil”? Some churches discourage meditation as being “new age” or “of the devil”. This exercise is neither. Roy Masters is a devout Christian, even though his teachings are somewhat controversial among Christians. The system he teaches is simple and non-denominational. It will give extremely good results when done correctly, as explained in the meditation article mentioned above.
Moving energy downward through the body. The Roy Masters exercise moves energy in a downward direction, from the head toward the right hand, and eventually down into your feet and beyond. While this seems simple enough, it is in fact the basic energetic direction of many healing prayers and meditations. This is an astounding concept that is explored in another detailed article on this website called Etheric Energy, Downward Motion and Healing.
Many people use prayer and meditation without realizing this fact, but it is the truth. Not all prayer and meditations move energy in this way, and those that do not are far more dangerous and not nearly as healing for the body.
Emptying the mind rather than filling it with new thoughts, sounds or emotions. Emptying the mind of your thoughts and ideas is another key concept for the effectiveness of prayers and meditations. It is somewhat analogous to emptying the energy of the body downward toward the earth.
Once again, many prayers and especially affirmations do not empty the mind. Instead, they substitute new thoughts for the ones that are in the mind. This can work, but is not as safe, generally, and can lead one astray, at times. The reason is that the thoughts one desires, such as to be rich or famous, may not be what one really needs. Therefore, filling the mind with such thoughts can cause a deep conflict in the mind. Empyting the mind of thoughts creates no such conflict and simply opens the mind to higher thoughts of many kinds. It is the same idea as asking for “thy will be done”, rather than trying to impose your own will on your mind.
Healing. Unlike some other prayers and meditations, the Roy Masters meditation is very healing, and not just because it reduces stress. Moving energy downward activates the body’s deepest energy centers to promote deep healing of the mind and the body. Emptying the mind is also very healing for most people, since improper thoughts and emotions contribute subtly to diseases of all kinds.
A safe way to meditate daily. Safety should be everyone’s primary concern with all meditation and prayer. This may be an odd statement. However, most meditations and many affirmations are not that safe, in my view. For example, some types of prayers and meditations cause odd phenomena such as visions to occur. While this may be benign, sometimes it is not.
Some prayers can cause a person to become detached and spacy. This is also not as safe. Some cause a person to want to die, in fact. Many prayers are good for a while, but then they seem to lose their effectiveness. That is because they have achieved their purpose and can take one only so far on the path toward health and mental clarity. Others require a teacher and paying large fees to be guided.
Still others must only be done with supervision in a group and are only safe when done for short periods of time. So safety concerns are important. The Roy Masters exercise suffers from none of these flaws, and has other advantages as well.
OTHER POWERFUL AND SIMPLE PRAYERS
The Lord’s Prayer. This famous prayer I find less powerful than the purely energetic Roy Masters exercise. However, it is always an excellent prayer as it teaches one to honor and respect “thy will, not my will”. This is a powerful principle of prayer that helps empty the mind and keeps one from going astray, at times.
The concept is that by emptying one’s mind of one’s own desires, the will of the Creator can enter the mind, and this is far more wonderful than anything one can even dream of by oneself. This does not mean that one should have no will of one’s own. This is not the intent of the prayer at all. It simply means that one should repeatedly ask to have one’s personal will in alignment with a higher or more enlightened will of the Creator or God.
The 23rd Psalm of David in the Old Testament. This is another famous and effective prayer or affirmation. When I was ill, I used this prayer, along with the Roy Masters exercise, many times each day to help stop negative thoughts and retrain my mind to think differently. It is described in more detail in a separate article on this website entitled The 23rd Psalm.
Other prayers, affirmations and meditations. Other prayers include the 91st Psalm of David of the old testament of the Bible, as well as many others, of course, from many traditions, both Western and Oriental. Some of these prayers can be powerful and most helpful at various times. However, in nutritional balancing science, I recommend only the Roy Masters type of meditation as it appears to be the most powerful. Each of us only has so much time for prayer and meditation, so if you are using many different ones, you may seriously dilute your results by using some that are not as powerful as the pure downward motion of the Roy Masters exercise.
The next section discusses how prayer works on the mind.
HOW PRAYER WORKS ON THE HUMAN MIND
Mechanisms of prayer:
1. Prayer works by engaging the mind in a certain activity, exercise or direction. This is the first principle of prayer. It is based on the fact that the mind is somewhat flexible and open to new ideas and thoughts, no matter how fixed or close-minded a person may appear.
2. Some prayers and especially affirmations work because of the power of suggestion. By suggesting certain things to the mind, it helps shift the mind away from other thoughts and ideas that are more harmful. This may be considered a form of brainwashing or propaganda.
Make no mistake about it, some prayers are designed to engage the mind in a certain direction to achieve a certain goal. There is nothing wrong with this, and in fact any intelligent person engages his or her mind in certain pursuits in order to keep one’s mind from engaging in either random or negative thinking, emotions and other activities. There is nothing wrong with saying you wish to brainwash yourself with positive ideas, for example.
The only caveats are that those ideas must be absolutely true, and not wishful thinking. The problem with some affirmations and even prayers is if they involve wishful thinking. This is decidedly dangerous for your mind because if the thought is not true, even at some times, then it sets up a conflict within your brain that cannot be resolved without some kind of mental crisis.
If you intend for a mental crisis to occur and are prepared for it, that is fine. But if you think you can brainwash yourself any way you want and get away with it, watch out. You may be in for a nasty surprise when the affirmation conflicts with reality.
Perhaps a few examples would be helpful. If you keep affirming you are rich or you are loved when it is not the case, reality will catch up to you and you will be sorely disappointed. If, however, you are willing to just acknowledge that you want to be rich or loved, then it is fine. Be careful what you say, in other words, to avoid fake or wishful thinking. Even common affirmations such as “I am better each day” or something similar, may be somewhat fake unless you are really working on yourself each day. There is no substitute for working on yourself daily.
Another way to say this is there are no shortcuts to reprogramming the mind that I know of. There is only doing the work, as they say, of weeding your mental garden, watching your thoughts and actions, and making corrections whenever you see that your mind is veering off course with negative thinking, self-pity, harmful emotions, etc.
3. Some prayers can help condition the mind to think along certain lines, and not in others. This is not the same as the brainwashing or propaganda idea above. This is more about learning how to think rather than what to think.
Prayer can be used, for example, to remind one that God is in charge, not anyone else. Prayer can be used to remind oneself that whatever happens may be (but not necessarily is) the will of God. This is a type of thinking that is helpful in a difficult situation when you don’t know what to do and can’t stop worrying about the situation. If you can train the mind to let go and let God, as they say, it can reduce anxiety tremendously. It also helps in situations in which you cannot control the outcome, no matter how hard you try.
4. Some prayers are about wishing in a positive way. This may sound strange, as I mentioned above to avoid wishful thinking. Learning to wish in a positive way is not the same, however.
Wishing in a positive way is about asking for help, not affirming something that is not true. It is about asking for the best in your life, even when you haven’t the slightest idea what that might be. It is about looking for the best in your life, rather than affirming what you think would be best when in reality you do not know what is best.
For example, to wish for the best in your life you can suggest to yourself that “thy will” is best, or you can ask for the best outcome of a situation rather than affirm that you will win. Wishing for the best for all parties is a powerful method of prayer that is somewhat embodied in the Lord’s prayer and others.
5. Some prayers and meditation direct one to more truth or awareness. Truth is not relative, as many people today claim. The schools today teach that you may have your truth, and I have mine. This is sometimes called moral relativism. Please learn to question and hopefully reject this false notion.
What some people mean by it is that each person will come to know certain aspects of the truth. For this reason, one person believes one thing and another believes something else. However, truth tends to converge. This means that as you learn more, you should come to the same conclusions as your friends and neighbors.
The bible states: “Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. This implies that truth carries a power with it that few appreciate. So using the Roy Masters exercise or another prayer or meditation to bring you more of the truth about yourself, others and the entire world we live in is a wonderful exercise.
One way the Roy Masters exercise does this is to reduce the chatter of the “monkey mind”. Most people’s minds just flit from thought to thought all day long in a mostly unconscious manner. It can be frightening to realize this, at first. The mind is on autopilot, some say. Roy Masters says most people are like hypnotized zombies.
Another way his exercise brings in more truth is that by moving energy downward the new energy that enters the body brings its own truths to your mind in subtle ways.
Learning more truth is not difficult. All you need do is ask. The Christian bible states in Matthew 7:7-12:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Most people simply do not ask often enough for what they really want. Most are distracted, and often unconsciously ask for that which they don’t say they want. For example, one may really want peace in one’s life, but distractions cause one to fume and argue over silly things that destroy one’s peace. In other words, until you control your mind, finding the truth is difficult. However, just learning to ask for it will often bring it to you.
Rather than ask, however, some people waste their time affirming that they already have something when they do not, or they ask in a half-hearted way. Really getting down on your knees and asking – almost demanding - to know the truth about something, will bring it to you faster. This must be done thousands of times.
Asking fervently and repeatedly day after day seems to set in motion a process of discovery or tuning in that always bears fruit, in my experience.
Timing. Beware, however, that you may not receive answers when or in the way you might wish. The biblical quote above does not say that if you ask hard enough you will get your answer in the next hour, next week or even next month. It might take years of asking, but I have found the concept works, over time.
6. Prayer is a way to bring things to you that need resolving. Prayer has a way of making one receptive to all that needs attention. The mechanism for this is complex, but it has to do with maintaining a posture of asking for truth and guidance in all things.
7. Prayer is a way to bring things to you that you need, even though you may not want them. This is directly related to the idea above. Somehow opening oneself to guidance will bring that which one needs, even if it is not exactly what one believes one wants.
8. Prayer is excellent to increase a person’s ability to focus and concentrate. This is why if you have difficulty with meditation, especially, do not despair. Just stay with it. It is just that you need practice in concentrating and focusing your mind.
Detractors. Today some people, especially those in the media, actively attempt to discredit the value and power of meditation and prayer. Anyone who states or even suggests that prayer doesn’t work or is silly, is trying to keep you in the dark and to be shunned. This is important, as schools often teach that prayer is old-fashioned, illegal in school, or part of an old religion that is no longer relevant, and so on.
None of this is true. While prayer and meditation are used by all religions, prayer is a technology that is not owned or controlled by any particular group or teaching. It is just as effective today as it was thousands of years ago. Nothing rivals it, in fact, because it is a basic methodology available to all people everywhere.
ELEMENTS OF PRAYING OR MEDITATING
Many people are not sure how to pray. It is not hard at all. However, certain procedures make it work much better. They include:
1. Set aside a specific time each day. Possible times are:
Š When you first wake up, if you do not need to get out of bed immediately.
Š At bedtime, before settling in to sleep. However, if you fall asleep during your prayer time it will not work. This is why kneeling at your bedside is used by many people, as it is harder to fall asleep this way.
Š After breakfast or another meal. Having some food in the stomach is good, provided it is not too much. Too much food can dull the mind and often causes sleepiness.
Š During a worship service or other type of community meeting where are you sitting still. You will not be listening to the service, but will just ‘do your own thing’ during the service. The service provides the atmosphere and quiet, and may help you stay focused on your prayer.
Š When you are a captive audience, or somewhat trapped. This might be at a quiet concert or other musical event, or sitting on a train, bus or plane and cannot easily move about.
Š During a slow, gentle walk, providing you will be safe and will not be too disturbed by noise or traffic. This is often an excellent time for prayer with a friend or partner, for example. A side benefit is you’ll get some exercise as well. Be sure, however, that you are not so engaged in your prayer that you ignore car traffic or other dangers.
Š At home, any time you wish. The important thing is to remember to pray and meditate.
Š While driving on a quiet road, but only if it can be done safely. This is not best, but many people find driving on a quiet road a good time to pray.
Please be extremely careful when driving. All driving is hazardous, as there are so many tired and ill drivers on the roads. Never turn up the volume on a CD or the radio, even if it makes you feel wonderful, as it may block out road sounds that could warn you. Never pray out loud so loudly that you cannot hear other drivers horns. Always stay wide awake when driving.
2. Find a suitable place to pray or meditate. This can be equally important. It does no good to set aside time to pray if you are continually interrupted or face any other distractions. Find a comfortable, fairly quiet, and safe place where you can be alone or with others who at least are not disturbing your peace.
This might include your home, of course, your office if it is quiet and you are not disturbed, the places listed in the paragraphs above, or other more unusual places such as in the sauna, or even sitting on the toilet. If you work in a busy office, for example, the bathroom may be the quietest place to go periodically if you having a difficult day and need to be by yourself in a safe environment where you can do your meditation or pray.
3. Develop routines and perhaps use reminders and gimmicks to help you along. Most people need a routine and reminders to keep them focused on daily prayer and meditation. This is sometimes the most important consideration, especially if you are ill with brain fog, confusion or forgetfulness.
Any routine can work, and any is better than none. Ways might include setting a clock radio or cell phone alarm at a certain time, putting up smile buttons around the house or office, or making a note in your day planner, calendar or computer. A helpful partner might also remind you gently, though it is best to do it on your own, if possible.
Good places to put reminders are on your bathroom mirror if you want to remind yourself when you arise in the morning, next to your plate where you eat, on your desk if you go there a lot, on your computer keyboard, perhaps, or anywhere you will see it.
4. Do it each time as if it were the first time. One must apply will and energy each time you pray or meditate. Try to think consciously about why you doing it.
If it becomes rote or mechanical, it will not work nearly as well. This is particularly true of the Roy Masters meditation. You must do it each time with a little more effort or energy. The same is true of most prayers. If it becomes just a mechanical exercise for you, stop and try to fix the problem. Maybe you don’t like the prayer you are using, or you don’t understand it well enough. Correct the problem, whatever it is, rather than waste your time.
5. Repeat your prayers and meditation often for an extended period of time. This is often not stressed enough in churches or even in meditation classes. It is not enough to do it once or twice. The mind is stuck in its rut and it often needs to be kicked in the pants many hundreds of times before it begins to wake up and listen to your prayers or other efforts.
Do not be discouraged if you get no results for months. The mind is truly like a lazy beast in most people. It needs a lot of shoving and pushing to get it going. Once going in the right direction, however, it will develop better habits and things will become easier.
6. Do not expect perfection. Like training an animal, your mind will have its good days and its bad ones. Try to flow with this. On some days, you may not be able to concentrate for even a minute or two. This is okay. Just tell yourself you will do better tomarrow. Do not be upset with the ups and downs that will occur when you try to control your mind and its activity. The mind may be thought of like a wild animal and one must bring it under control or domesticate the animal so it becomes useful and responds to your commands.
7. Don’t fall asleep or allow other distractions to upset your prayer or meditation session. Oddly, the mind may try to trick you into stopping your practice of prayer or meditation. Do not fall for this trick of the monkey mind, or mechanical mind.
This can happen many ways. For example, you may become very sleepy. Other ways it happens is your body starts itching or squirming, or you become extra sensitive to sounds or sights around you. This might be a signal from the body that you need to move. However, it can be a trick to stop you from progressing, and it must be resisted fully. Another trick is just when you relax to meditate or pray, you think of all the things you need to do that day. Just stop and write them down, and go back to your session.
These tricks of the mind cause most people to quit meditation, especially. They find it “hard to do”. It is not hard, but the mind resists, like an old dog who does not feel like learning new tricks. So persist and do not be discouraged. Reread this article, or other articles or books to keep you convinced that you want to move ahead. The mind can be retrained, no matter how old or ill you are. Illness can be a benefit, in fact, because you are not as tempted to run around and are more willing to sit still.
If falling asleep is your problem, you must find another time or place to pray or meditate so this won’t happen. You can use a prayer to help you fall asleep at night or when you nap. However, in this case, find another time to meditate fully when you won’t fall asleep.
In this way, you will slowly gain control of your mind and realize what an amazing computer it is. I am convinced that this is a secret of all genuinely religious people. They know how to use their minds to achieve what they desire, providing those desires are wholesome and in alignment with the higher will. This is the ultimate goal and benefit of prayer and meditation. It is one worth wrestling with for years, if needed, in order to be and do all that you were designed for and can do.