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Life of Prayer II - Lesson 1: Understanding


  1. Effectual Prayer: Chapter 1 – Effectual Prayer
  2. Effectual Prayer: Chapter 2 – Preparation
  3. (Supplementary) Prayer Can Change Your Life — William R. Parker and Elaine St. Johns Dare
  4. (Supplementary) Praying? How, When, Where, Why. Muriel Lester. 1960, Fleming R. Revel Company

1. Introduction

  1. Prayer is communion with God.
  2. Mind is man's medium of communication with God.
  3. Three phases of mind are:
    • Superconscious—knowing phase—realm of divine ideas.
    • Conscious—thinking phase
    • Subconscious—feeling phase and realm of memory.
  4. The object of prayer is to bring man's whole being under the direction of the Superconscious or Christ Mind.
  5. Effectual prayer is based on understanding.

Clip #67 from the Richard Billings interview.
The first lesson in this course in Life of Prayer is about Spiritual Understanding. Spiritual Understanding is also the first concept introduced in Unity's Correspondence School Course. Spiritual Understanding is synonymous with Truth. Truth is the first step in spiritual development. John the Baptist preached a baptism of water (cleansing Truth) as preparation for the emergence of the Christ within. Truth comes before Love. As Rev. Richard Billings makes clear in this video clip, Love is important, but it is Truth that sets us free.

2. Types of prayer that have come down to us from our ancestors

  1. Prayer of Praise. Praise of the Father in prayer changes man, not God. The mental attitude that praise sets up stimulates, quickens, and establishes in character the ideals for which one prays.
  2. Prayer of thanksgiving. Charles Fillmore says that thanksgiving means rendering our grateful thoughts to God for His manifold blessings. Not to say "thank you" is uncouth.
  3. Prayer of confession. A denial is a confession that we need help. A confession of faith is to state what we believe. Forgiveness is a part of confession. Admitting we have erred but are dedicating ourselves to changing is part of the prayer of confession.
  4. Prayer of petition. This is the asking prayer. Do not beg. Talk over with God your needs. Ask and you shall receive. The Father knows your need. Affirm the Truth.
  5. Prayer of intercession. Asking others to pray for us or with us. This is the work of Silent Unity. Praying for another is like holding up a sinking swimmer until the rescue boat comes.

3. Why some prayers seem not to be answered

  1. We ask amiss.
  2. Praying to false gods: Baal vs Elijah.
  3. Whenever a prayer remains unanswered in the manifest realm, we can be sure that somewhere there is a closed door between us and God.
  4. True prayer is not begging — it is right knowing.
  5. Do not expect another to be the answer to your prayer. You are the only channel through which the Kingdom of God can come. It is your knowing that brings your blessings to you.
Comment: On pp. 13 and 14 of the text Frances talks about our capacity to receive and some factors that limit our capacity to receive.

4. Preparation for prayer

  1. Purification. Indians prepared themselves by cleansing the body with sweat baths and fasting. The Israelites made sacrifices.
  2. We must purify our hearts by casting out hatred, criticism, intolerance, selfishness, condemnation, jealousy, anxiety and fear, if His perfect work is to be done in us.
  3. Finding time to pray. Prayer should be an every day discipline. Praying at the same time each day is a good idea. (DAILY WORD every morning, for example).
  4. How to deal with annoyances. Ignore them. Go into the "inner chamber and close the door." If the telephone rings—don't answer. You have an important meeting with the Lord of your being.
  5. How long to pray. Until achievement comes. No one can take the necessary steps toward achievemnt for another, just as not one can eat for another or sleep for another. Each one must take the steps for himself, at his own time, in his own way.
  6. Through many experiences one learns the way. Through prayers of many words, through desire and emotion the soul finally learns to cut out the unessential and go direct to the Father.
  7. Instantaneous answer to prayer is always possible.
  8. Pray without ceasing is to continually look toward God. It is to enter into the mind that takes no offense and has nothing to do with error. Don't look to another's short- comings. Did not Jesus say, "What is that to thee? follow thou me."

5. Conclusion

  1. Clement of Alexander (2nd century) said, "The aim of prayer is to attain the habit of goodness so as no longer merely to have things, that are good, but rather to be good."
  2. Emerson: "Prayer is the contemplation of life from the highest point of view."
  3. Henry Emerson Fosdick: "Prayer is a battleground. The inner battlefield where we most effectively conquer the false worries, trivial anxieties and all the unwholesome specters of the mind that ir- ritate the spirit and make the body ill."

What does prayer mean to you?