This is not the way I thought I ought to start a
piece on a subject human beings have dwelt on since
perhaps even before they could put their thoughts into
words. But please bear with me as I start this way:
Now I sit me down to say
That what we mean by "Let us pray"
Should maybe not be just "Let's plead"
With some great power to meet a need.
What I think we ought to know
Is God is always saying, "Lo!"
The meaning being our Good is here,
So prayer means greeting our good cheer.
Meaning, then, we needn't ask
For what is given. Indeed our task
In prayer is straightening out our thought
And saying, "Thank you!" As we ought!
Maybe as we take to prayer
In handling every daily care,
It's best to say, "Thank God!" and then
Proceed with joyful life again.
Those lines of spiritual doggerel now come to mind as
I ponder the meaning of prayer. Like millions of
children, the first lines of prayer ever taught me were
lilting lines like those above that I uttered at
bedtime. Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to have a
child think of "dying before I wake." But in
general I think I was reassured by the mere lilt of the
lines asking for the help of "the Lord."
In many later years of contemplation, however, the
meaning of prayer has challenged my understanding, as
perhaps it has done all of us. Which explains those
lines of verse above. They're intended to take the lilt
of the "Now I lay me down" prayer and have it
work as a positive mind treatment.
In our prayer, it seems to me now, we needn't so much
ask for blessings as accept them. Isn't the Creative
Power most of us call "God" offering them to
us all the time in every phase of our lives? As
creatures of that Creative Power, shouldn't we make it
our task to open ourselves to those blessings?
And isn't the best way to do that is affirm that they
are ours--knowing that they are by saying, "Thank
Now, the easiest thing for us in our human lives
often seems to be to complain and bemoan shortcomings
and deprivations. For things to change, we need to
refocus our outlook and see beyond--and even deny—whatever
negatives our senses tell us are so and recognize how
misinformation may have seemed to twist the Truth.
"The Truth"? Well, there has to be some
understanding of what that means if we are going to talk
about prayer. It has to mean "good" in some
sense or in just every sense we can conceive. If the
truth we're invoking means "bad" or anything
less than "good," why bother with prayer?
In effective prayer, I believe that what we are doing
is talking to our subconscious. That's where most of
what happens to us in our lives clicks on. A lot of it,
thankfully, is vitally automatic--our breathing, our
heart beat, our metabolism and on and on. And yet it's
also automatically the source of habitual thinking and
feeling--good and bad--planted there, I guess, in our
genes and in the instructions of do's and don'ts we get
through the years.
I'm immensely thankful for much of the indoctrination
in countless matters that I've received over my
lifetime. But some of the instruction I received or
misunderstood needed to be sorted out pretty thoroughly
over the years. That's where prayer, for many people and
for me, proves effective.
To the "bad" or "undesirable"
lingering in our subconscious, we say, "That's not
what God, the Truth, the Almighty Creator ordains! We've
figured it out! That Creative Power of All creates, It
doesn't destroy. It may seem otherwise, but only good is
We follow with a litany of blessings befalling us.
And yes, it takes practice, patient practice. But when
we see our blessings, then we are truly blessed, as have
been millions of praying people through the ages, whom
we join, saying:
"Thank you, God!"
©Copyright 2004 Hubert
Pryor. All Rights Reserved.
Hubert Pryor is a retired editor of national
magazines--Modern Maturity and Science Digest among
others--Hubert Pryor is the author of SOUL TALK:
Positive Mind Treatments to Turn Your Life Around
(available through DeVorss & Co., 553 Constitution
Ave., Camarillo, CA 93012, 800-843-5743, www.devorss.com)
and a forthcoming book, SERENITY 101: Spiritual
Wisdom, Ancient and Modern, for Peace of Mind Today.
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