Effectual Prayer: Concentration
IN THE JOURNEY out from God we have all become Adam-minded; that is, our consciousness has contained both good and evil, and we have entertained as true the thoughts that have built such a consciousness. Even after we have come to ourselves in a country afar and have said, "I will arise and go to my father" and after we have truly arisen and started on the journey back, we have to be infinitely patient with ourselves. The old thoughts have a way sometimes of surprising us when we think we are fairly done with them, and they seem to push themselves forward in our mind as if to say, "Worship me." There seems to be no time when this is truer than when we seek to enter, the holy of holies. We then find these irrelevant thoughts trying to bombard us. At this time we find many thoughts that need redeeming and lifting up, which can come about only through our concentrating on high and holy thoughts, giving them constant attention, holding them close in the heart and letting our words take form from them, our acts pattern after them. Thus we shall be brought to a consciousness of freedom from Adam's duality.
In the old Adam state of mind we filled our consciousness with a mass of unlovely thoughts that have created conditions like themselves in our body and affairs. We have concentrated, whether we call it this or not, on thoughts of lack, limitation, accident, sickness, death. We have feared, we have
doubted, we have let our mind be shaken with emotion, all the result of concentration, for concentration is nothing more than fixing the attention of the mind on one thing. We have only to think for a moment to realize that our subconscious holds a conglomerate thought mass, all built in by none but our own self, and that it must be torn down and rebuilt by this same self. In only one way can the conditions be broken up and dissolved so that they can produce no more, and that is by lifting up our human mind and merging it with the Christ mind. This is accomplished through our holding fast to holy thoughts. We are to let go of the Adam thoughts and take hold of the Christ thoughts, as Paul says: "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). Concentration on one kind of thoughts, error thoughts, has built up a consciousness of error, and these error thoughts have been reproduced in the life as error conditions. Emptying ourselves of these and concentrating on higher thoughts will lift our mind into the Christ consciousness, and this in turn will be reproduced as harmony in body and affaiits. First the within, then the without; first the sowing, then the reaping. There is no other way.
Our mind is one, but is active on three levels: that of the superconscious or Christ mind in us, in which all spiritual thoughts originate; that of the conscious or human mind, which forms its opinions and chooses its line of action either from the superconscious or from outer appearances and personalities, and that of the subconscious mind or mental storehouse, in
which is filed away all the thoughts of the conscious mind and which seeks at some time to reproduce in the outer these thoughts which we have given it. Thus we see the importance of turning the attention of the conscious mind to the superconscious and keeping it there so that the subconscious may be given good material and right instruction with which to work out perfect manifestations in the life.
If there is an appearance of sickness or poverty or inharmonious environment in our life, it is useless to turn without to seek the cause. It is useless to blame people or conditions. It is useless to pray to God to remove the appearance, for to pray truly we must seek to rid ourselves of the cause of unhappiness. God will help us to do this, and a new within will bring a changed without. Our consciousness is built up by the thoughts that the conscious mind has poured into the subconscious since Spirit gave it birth and the power of choice. This does not mean one life but many, and there are stored away many sickness thoughts, poverty thoughts, inharmony thoughts in the soul. Our soul knows of our birthright, our sonship, and when we begin to agree with the soul and begin to claim our inheritance, the errors are pushed out. For this reason when seeking to change an outer condition we take spiritual thoughts that relate to the condition we desire to change, so that these may be built into the soul in place of the old thoughts. We concentrate on these holy thoughts and build them strong within. These new thoughts which we use should not come from
the intellect but from the superconscious or Christ mind. If we have not reached the point at which we can receive these direct, they will be given us through some person who has become one with Omniscience. Perhaps a book comes into our hands that has the cleansing word, or a person unconscious of the Father's using him for this purpose may speak the word that we need. We are to use these thoughts to unify our conscious mind with the superconscious; and at the same time these thoughts will wipe out error thoughts from the subconscious. Until we recognize and start this word of redemption, the Christ cannot come into our life with His good and abide, any more than the man Jesus could do mighty works in His own country while the people's hearts were closed against Him. We must make ready to receive. Christ is always ready to give. Does He not tell us: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me?" (Rev. 3:20) What a wonderful promise! What an opportunity to receive the highest that can come into one's life! Yet very few people still their mind enough to hear His knock, very few hold open the door long enough for Him to enter; they only let their thoughts bang back and forth like a loose shutter in the wind. They scatter their forces to the four ends of their universe, as the wind scatters the dead leaves of the trees in a storm. They concentrate on a thought or pray to God for a few minutes, and then they spend hours each day in thinking and living the exact opposite
of that for which they have prayed. Here comes a doubt thought and it is considered; here comes a fear thought and it is considered. We speak words contrary to our prayer; and our action in disbelieving that the answer is already ours speaks louder than our words. Thus the thing for which we prayed is turned back to the Giver to wait until we are open to receive it.
The part of prayer called concentration is a process of stilling the unruly or irrelevant thoughts so that our mind may give all its attention to the one thing desired. Until this is attained our prayers are like scattered forces that have little visible result. There is a commandment that reads: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exod. 20:3). Yet when we start to seek the silence to commune with God, which is prayer, we are like the Israelites bowing down to strange gods; we let all kinds of thoughts run riot in our mind to the exclusion of our holy thoughts. We start Godward in our mind, and immediately there come thoughts of Johnny or Susie, or of a neighbor, a customer, or a social event. We drift with these thoughts for a time; then call again to mind our holy thoughts, and in a moment, in our mind, we are starting down to the office, or on a shopping excursion, or planning the day's meals, or making over a dress, or perhaps outwitting a customer or a shop-keeper in some deal that is being considered. Again we shake ourselves and start Godward, but some duty of the day claims our attention. Finally we get up and go about our work without ever approaching
the great white throne. We have wasted untold mental energy and unrecallable time, which if used in concentrated prayer would have given us peace and power and strength sufficient for the mastery of any task of the day.
When we are really interested in anything we give it our whole attention. You and I have many times become so interested in something we were doing that we did not hear the telephone, or the doorbell, or the call to dinner. This is the kind of interest we need when we start Godward in prayer. We should not call a book interesting over which we nodded and dozed, yet sometimes when we start to enter the silence and begin our prayer to God, we do doze, even fall asleep. In order to reach the Father, to speak to Him, to hear His voice we must be as vitally interested in our activity as was Jacob when he held onto the angel presence until the break of day. He forgot all else; "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me," he said, and it was through this holding on until blessed that the great transformation from "Supplanter" to "prince with God" came about (Gen. 32:24-32). During some such communion, forgetting self, desire, everything except receiving a blessing from the Lord, we also shall get error conditions changed and attain perfect expression of that to which we cling, God, the good, omnipotent. Pentecost came to the disciples when they were all together in one place, engaged steadfastly in prayer (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit will descend on us with great blessings when we draw together all our forces and worship
God with our whole being, with all our heart, and with all our soul and all our mind.
We do not concentrate on or hold fast to our holy thoughts in order to change God, for He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, always waiting to give us that which He has prepared for us from the beginning. It is ourselves that we seek to change by the holding of holy thoughts. We seek to cleanse ourselves of doubts and fears, to build up faith so that we may be made receptive. We seek to make a clear path to him over which our good may come back to us. Every holy thought held fast is the forerunner of some good yet to be ours, which is ours now if we are open enough to receive it.
The One who dwelt in consciousness continually with the Father and whose prayers were answered even as uttered said: "When thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father" (Matt. 6:6). The only way to close the door on unruly thoughts is to hold a thought so holy, to become so interested in it, that the irrelevant thoughts will find nothing in common with it, nothing to hold them. Then they will either go out and close the door behind them or they will become so interested that they will be still and listen. If we resist them and scold them they will push open the door as fast as we close it. If we fight them they will fight back, and the time will pass without our reaching the holy of holies, without our coming into a consciousness of the glory of God and having it clothe us with its richness.
When you are seeking the silence, take always with you a very high thought so that you may become quickly united with the Father. Let it drop from the head, the seat of the intellect, to the region of the heart, out of which are all the issues of life. If it first you do not get a realization of this experience, repeat the thought. Out from the throne of God (heart) into the garden (body) flows the river of life (blood) through all of its tributaries (arteries, capillaries, veins), cleansing, healing, renewing as it flows. Back to the throne flows the stream of life, gathering up throughout the garden all the impurities, and whatsoever is unclean on its banks is healed. It passes in review before the great alchemist (the lungs). Where the breath of God applies to it a cleansing, vitalizing touch, through which you become a living soul, born anew in the physical, as you take with you words and return to Jehovah. When the thought is thus dropped to the heart, the whole being receives it, and you become a mighty magnet to receive the good; but when the talk is kept in the head, the intellect argues and reasons over it until it loses its true meaning. Many a splitting headache has come from the intellect's holding back the truth of a thought from the physical universe, until this thought has begun to hammer at the door and demand it's release so that it might become vital in the living.
There will come a time, after we have truly learned to concentrate on holy thoughts without the intellect's interference, when the great subconsciousness,
the seat of which is in the heart region, shall have been cleansed. Then praying will find its true place in the upper chamber or spiritual center of the body, which is in the top of the head. We do not need to try to take our thoughts there, for when we are ready for the day of Pentecost and its baptism of power, the Spirit will descend on us and we shall be lifted with it to this high place. Until that time comes for us we are to seek to look steadfastly into God's heaven, so that our thoughts may be of the purest form, our words constructive and life-giving, and the acts of our life productive of good only. Thus shall we be confirming by signs this four-squaring of our life, this ministry to the race consciousness, and we shall know and feel the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us.
When we take a thought for the purpose of concentrating upon it, we repeat it over and over until it is fixed in our mind. We give it our undivided attention, becoming vitally interested in it. We seek to have it become a very part of our being; and indelibly written in our consciousness, it becomes one with us and we one with it. Then will it become powerful and draw to it others of its kind. It will sink deep in the subconsciousness and with its redeeming power reach all of the dark corners of the soul, illumining them with that true light which belongs to every man that comes into the world. If it seems hard to hold to the thought until it becomes a magnet within, it is well sometimes to practice the holding of a thought purely a mental process for a minute,
then two minutes, then five or ten minutes, holding it to the exclusion of every other thought. When you can thus clarify your mind and hold your attention upon one thought, you are attaining the ability to concentrate that will lead to productive meditation. Only practice, patience, and earnest desire, will give one the true power of concentration, which is interest and attention to the one thing that one desires to do or be. The accomplishment of this is the sure reward of all who repeatedly ask, earnestly seek, and patiently knock.
Let the light of Thy countenance, O Thou omnipresent One, continually be upon me, that 1 may be stead-fast in my ptwpose of finding Thee. Let every thought of my mind become subservient to Thy thoughts, that my whole consciousness may be lifted out of darkness into that glory which I had with Thee before the world was.
Let there be many windows to your soul,
That all the glory of the universe
May beautify it. Not the narrow pane
Of one poor creed can catch the radiant rays
That shine from countless sources. Tear away
The blinds of superstition; let the light
Pour through fair windows broad as Truth itself
And high as God. ...
Tune your ear
To all the worldless music of the stars,
And to the voice of Nature, and your heart
Shall turn to truth and goodness, as the plant
Turns to the sun. A thousand unseen hands
Reach down to help you to their peace-crowned heights,
And all the forces of the firmament
Shall fortify your strength. Be not afraid
To thrust aside half-truths and grasp the whole,
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in thy sight,
O Jehovah, my rode, and my redeemer." (Psalms 19:14)
"I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." (I Cor. 14:15)
"Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth." (Col. 3:2)
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (II Cor. 10:5)
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee;
because he trusteth in thee." (Isa. 26:3)