photo: Leland Francisco on flickr

What is prayer? What’s the best way to pray? What’s the most powerful method for developing an instant pipeline to the Universe,
the Source of All?

There isn’t one.

I’m not saying that I don’t believe in prayer. I do. I’m just saying that there isn’t one right way to pray. That’s like saying there’s one right way to beathe. Or eat. Or talk.

But I can tell you how I pray.

When I first discovered metaphysics back in the 1980’s, I didn’t pray. I meditated and did affirmations. By affirmations, I mean positive statements in the present tense designed to train one’s consciousness in a constructive direction. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? It’s not, though. Not really.

Actually, affirmations are best if they are really simple.

“I am peaceful” is a good one. Or, if that’s too threatening, “I am willing to believe that I am peaceful.”

Affirmations are best if said – or written, or sung – again and again and again and again. That way the new idea can really take hold.

Any statement beginning with “I am” can make a good affirmation, as long as the following words are positive and affirmative.

“I am a jackass,” for example, would not necessarily be a constructive affirmation. Unless you really and truly wanted to be a jackass. In which case, go for it!

photo: kudumomo on flikr

But I digress.

When I found the Centers for Spiritual Living in 2005, I figured out pretty quickly that they had a specific way of praying. Affirmative prayer, they called it. 

I was sure I didn’t need it.

I had a solid affirmation practice – statements about everything from good self-esteem to prosperity. Why did I need to change that? I’m not drinking the kool-aid, I told myself. Everything’s fine as is. 

photo: Breibeest on flikr

You can guess what happened next. 

It started when I took my first class at the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa. I finally learned the five-step method of prayer I’d been hearing so much about.

The stripped-down, bare-bones version looks something like this: 

1.  Recognition: Spirit is all there is. 

2.  Unification: I am one with Spirit. 

3.  Realization: I claim, accept, embody and welcome my good. 

4.  Thanksgiving: I am grateful. 

5.  Release: And so it is.

A version they teach to kids goes like this: “God is good, so am I. All is well. Thanks. Goodbye!”

photo: epSos.de on flikr

The first time I tried a five-step prayer, I had indigestion. I don’t mean that the idea of praying gave me indigestion, I mean that my stomach hurt. Bad. I was on my way to a social event and didn’t particularly want to be in pain the whole time I was there.

So I decided to try a prayer.

I felt a little silly. I can still remember sitting in my TV room, going through the five steps. I remember thinking, This isn’t going to work. Spirit has bigger things to worry about than my stomach.

But it worked. Right away.

And I thought, Hmmmm. Maybe there’s something to this 5-step prayer thing. Maybe I’ll start doing it. 

And that was the beginning of my prayer practice.

Unlike affirmations, this version of prayer allows me to consciously unify with Spirit before I start to shift my thinking in the direction of desired change. Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Centers for Spiritual Living, used to say that all you really need to do is the first and second steps. When you know – really know – that Spirit is all there is and you’re one with that, you’re good.

I still do affirmations, but they’re often in the context of the five-step prayer. I use them in step three, when I’m affirming the new good that’s coming into my life.

I also like this form of prayer because, unlike affirmations – where I develop specific phrases to say again and again – the five-step version of prayer allows me to do a different, unique prayer every day. 

It’s awesome.   

It works. 

And I feel closer to Spirit than I ever have.

It’s my own little 5-step tango with God. And it gets better and better every day.

photo: Zabara Alexander on flikr

How do you pray? What works for you?

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