The true purpose of prayer is to know God, to awaken to and to experience the presence of God. That is the true purpose of prayer. But we don’t start there; we don’t start in that lofty place.

We usually come to God in prayer out of human need – that’s where we start. We have a need, and we expect God to solve our problem because we haven’t been able to solve it ourselves.

Most of us don’t really come from the consciousness of wanting to experience God’s presence so much as the pressing matters that are right before us. We want healing now. We want employment now. We want some person in our life so that we’re not lonely any more. That’s where we’re coming from.

Jim Rosemergy, in his book A Closer Walk with God, differentiates between the prayer of the human being and the prayer of the spiritual being – or what he calls the prayer of the divine being. He says that we pray in two different ways.

When we pray from the prayer of a human being we are praying from our wants and our needs, from our outside experiences. When we pray from the prayer of the divine being or the spiritual being we pray in the realization of oneness with God. There’s a difference.

But we come first of all our of our needs. We feel that we need to overcome things; we need to vanquish our enemies, we need to overcome those things that trouble us.

So we ask God, we plead with God, we beg God, and we say affirmations to God. Even when we come to know something of truth principles, we often use our affirmations in a begging way to a God out there somewhere. We want the things we want when we want them – “Get busy, God, do it now” Generally speaking, most of us don’t come to God with open minds to have our true needs filled; we come with preconceived opinions, seeking divine approval for what we want. This is what I want, God, here’s my list; I want this healing, I want this employment, I want this person to fill the gap in my loneliness, I want my bills paid; these are the things I want.

What we think we know about frustrates our direct knowing of God’s presence; we come with minds that are filled with our weaknesses, instead of our strengths, filled with the facts, instead of the unlimited possibilities of infinite mind expressing through us.

All of us do this; it’s a human condition. We come to God out of our needs and our wants instead of out of a desire for a deeper relationship with the truth of our being.

There is one thing that changes the way we focus on prayer.

That one thing is the foundation of most religions. The ancient Hebrews expressed it in this way: “The Lord our God is one!” This is the Jewish Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one!”

In Unity we say the same thing, but in a different way: “There is only One Presence and One Power in all the universe, God the Good, Omnipotent.”

When we really recognize the truth of there being only one presence and one power, then we begin to pray from a different perspective.

Until that time, and maybe even beyond that time, we still often pray from a declaration of two powers. We say, yes there’s the power of God but then there’s the power of this thing that’s about to defeat me.

As nations we pray for the power of God to vanquish our enemies. Or we pray for the power of God to set us free from this condition. And we talk about the power of this illness, the power of negative thinking, or the power of the weather conditions.

S o we have a sense of separation, of two powers. And we call upon the power of God to save us from this other power that we think is out here, whether it’s the power of illness, the power of another person, the power of weather conditions, the power of the recession.

Whatever it is, we tend to ascribe a power to it and so we pray from a sense of two powers instead of praying from the realization that there is only one presence and one power, God, the good, omnipotent.

THERE IS NOTHING TO OVERCOME

There is nothing in opposition to the one power, the one presence. It’s not God versus Satan, good versus evil. There is only one presence and one power, God, the good, omnipotent. And we are one with that one presence and one power.

It is sad that one of our greatest resistances to the good within has been that very thing, our resistance to what we call evil.

One of the things that all the great teachers have said, Jesus summed up in three words: “Resist not evil.” And yet in our prayers, so often we have resisted “evil.”

I remember that, years ago, my wife Kathryn and I went to a seminar at Virginia beach. There was a man there with the name of Tara Singh. He has become quite well know since that time because he began to work with the Course in Miracles and teaches it in a totally different way than the originators of it.

Tara Singh had great insight, and he wrote on the blackboard those three words, “Resist not evil.”

He said, “You know, you think you are such great beings, you’re so holy, you pray in such a wonderful way, you think you’ve really arrived at your spiritual consciousness, and you haven’t even learned to do this yet!” And he pointed to the three words on the blackboard.

He spent two hours talking to us about that, about the ways we resist evil. And we do, don’t we? In our prayers, we resist evil when we start taking about certain conditions as being bad. We label things, situations, people, and conditions as being bad, and then we try to change them; we try to change the outer things. We try to change the conditions, we try to change the people, and we try to change the situations.

And what do we need to change first? Ourselves!

WE BEGIN TO CHANGE THE FOCUS OF OUR PRAYER

When we begin to look at our true nature as spiritual beings instead of just human beings we realize it’s not God’s assistance to us as human beings that we need, but it’s the spiritual life that we need. We need to know our spirituality, our oneness with God. Our desires change and become the desire to know the truth of our being, to know God, and to experience God.

As we look to God’s presence and that presence alone, we begin to change the focus of our prayer. We realize that the purpose of prayer is to know God, and out of that knowing all good comes forth.

We hear this realization expressed in all of the spiritual teachings.

In the teachings of Jesus, we read, “I and the Father are one.”

The great poet Kabir, in the tradition of Islam, says, “Behold but one in all things. It is the second that leads you astray.” And how often do we get caught up in “the second” that leads us astray.

St. Catherine of Genoa, in a tremendous expression of oneness, said, “My me is God. Nor do I recognize any other me, except my God himself.”

Meister Eckhart, German mystic, “The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge.”

THERE IS NO SEPARATION FROM GOD

God, the knower, is right where you are, and you are one with that knowing. God knows your need, whatever that need; and at that level where you know your oneness with God, you know your need and you know the answer to that needs. The knower and the known are one, always. There is no separation, because there is no separation from God.

So we begin to see in a new way. Wherever I am, God is. And we begin to see from that viewpoint. Instead of thinking of God out there or up there, we know what Jesus called “the Father,” is not something separate from us, something external to us, but is a dimension of our own being. It is the essential dimension of our own being. The Father and I are one. Wherever I am, God is. Whatever your need is, your answer is there also.

As you abide in that consciousness of your oneness with God, then the answer comes. It comes flowing forth like light. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” It’s like a transparency that the light flows from.

Eric Butterworth tells the story of a man who became blind. It was very difficult and hard for him; the man was an author. He tells the story of how his blindness was so difficult to deal with; how to avoid bumping into things, trees and people and everything. He couldn’t reconcile that he couldn’t see any light out there.

But suddenly he began to realize that there was still light within. He began to educate others and realized that children were not taught about the light within, but were only taught about the light out here and that we see things as reflected in light. But he said, “When I began to focus on the light within, then I was able to find my way around easily.”

That’s true of us also, who have our physical sight. If we focus on the light within, we can find our way around our life easily.

The man said whenever he got depressed, or angry, the light within would diminish and sometimes disappeared altogether. He began to focus on that realization that he needed to establish himself in the light, and then he was able to function like the whole person that he was.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”

THE LIGHT COMES FROM WITHIN

There is a Hebrew word meaning light, “ayin,” which literally means “a fountain.” You see, the light bubbles up from within. We don’t see with the light; we see from the light. We see because of the light. We’re not seeing the light when we’re seeing; we’re seeing from the light.

If you can capture that idea, you’ll also capture the idea that you’re seeing from the light of God’s presence within you. Then your world will be different. Your world will change entirely and it will be the most important discovery that you ever made in your life. You and the Father are one, and the light flows from within you.

So I would urge you, each day, at the beginning of the day, to take some time to become established in the light, to become established in the light of God’s presence. Just simply feel that, and bask in the light.

If you want to use a visualization process you might first want to see a symbol of the light out there, like a large sun or something, then see it gradually come toward you and feel it surrounding you and infilling you.

The see and feel yourself falling into the light and going beyond it, so the light is somehow behind you and within you. And you are seeing instead from the light.

Then begin to think about the things that you are going to do during the day, have a list if you like. Look at the facts; look at the things you have to do. But then get still and feel that you’re looking at these facts, instead of from  the facts; you’re looking at them from the light. And you’re shedding that light upon all of those facts of your day.

Then as you go through the day you’re bringing a blessing to everything that you do, to every person that you meet, to every situation, every circumstance, and every job that you have to do. Whatever it is, whether it’s making a report, or baking a cake, or building a house, or whatever it is, you’re bringing the light to it, you’re bringing the presence of God to it.

Because wherever you are, God is.

And you know that the true purpose of prayer is to know God and to experience that presence in everything that you do.

God is blessing you right now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

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Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over thirty-six years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspiratonal newsletter, “Spiritual Solutions,” at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

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