By Guest Writer Craig Donaldson,
Prayer is one of the most common and effective forms of spiritual practice on the planet, and there are 11 simple practices you can follow to help increase the power and effectiveness of your prayers, writes Craig Donaldson
Gandhi once said, “Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul.”
Prayer is one of the oldest forms of devotion on the planet. It is a source of joy, comfort and spiritual upliftment for millions of people the world over and still remains one of the most effective means of connecting with God (or whatever you choose to call the Creator). It can be as simple as a “thank you” to the universe, or deep and holy prayer uttered from the heart. Here are some simple practices you can use to increase the power of your own prayer:
1. Set aside a special time and place for prayer.
You can pray more effectively if you have a special time and place for doing so. The early morning or just before going to bed are good times to pray. It doesn’t have to long – five minutes is a great start.
It also helps if you have a routine place to pray in. It need not be a whole room – a private corner in a bedroom or study will do. Find a clean place that is well lit and aired. You can set up a small altar with some candles, flowers and crystals, and favourite pictures of saints or angels, pictures of loved ones or friends in need of healing. This is your private space for going within so make sure you feel comfortable with it.
2. Ask God to help you in your prayer.
God is not only able to answer your prayer, but he is also able to make your prayer to him stronger. You can also ask the angels or your Higher Self to help you pray. You have a special contact with God through your Higher Self, or your Christ Self. Your Christ Self is truly your best friend, inner teacher and voice of conscience. When you pray, it is your Christ Self who goes before God to intercede for you.
There are some mantras you can use to help God and your Christ Self to help you. Jesus once appeared to the fourteenth-century saint Catherine of Sienna as she was praying and said to her:
Do you know, daughter, who you are and who I am? If you know these two things, you would be blessed. You are that which is not; I am he who is. If you have this knowledge in your soul, the enemy can never deceive you; you will escape all his snares; you will never consent to anything contrary to my commandments; and without difficulty you will acquire every grace, every truth, every light.
Thus Catherine gleaned a profound insight: “God all, I nothing”, and the mantra “Thou the all; I the nothing” was inspired upon her. Every time she recited it, she was emptying herself for the divine to enter. You can also use this mantra before praying to draw closer to your Christ Self.
3. God is the doer.
The power of your prayers will increase dramatically when you realise that God is the doer. Jesus affirmed this when he said: “I of mine own self can do nothing. It is the Father in me which doeth the work.” In prayer, it is the divine within you appealing to the divine above.
The divine within you is a part of God that he has placed within you as his child. It is a spiritual flame that burns within your heart, and can increase in size by the power of fervent prayer. This flame is the kingdom of Heaven within that Jesus spoke about.
An eleventh-century saint called Symeon the New Theologian spoke of this flame in the heart: “What words can describe this! . . . I see a light which the world does not possess. Sitting in the cell I see within me the Creator of the world.” The Chandogya Upanishad, a sacred Hindu text, tells us that “The light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, . . . this is the light that shines in our hearts.”
One Buddhist text says of this flame: “The road of Buddhahood is open to all. At all times have all living beings the Germ of Buddhahood in them.” When you really allow the divine within you to reach out for help to God above, the results can be spectacular.
4. Center in your heart.
We all use our outer consciousness in daily activities. When we’re at work, watching TV or playing sport, most often our attention is focused outside of us. But in prayer, we need to turn our consciousness inward. By doing this you are “going into the closet to pray”. You are shutting your consciousness to the outside world to go within and spend time with God. You can do this through a simple exercise.
First, concentrate on your heart and imagine you are breathing through your heart. Then visualize a brilliant sun of light above you. It is so bright it is almost blinding. Then see this sun gently descending into your heart. See yourself entering this brilliant sphere of light, where you find your own special prayer place. You may see your heart flame, Christ Self, Ascended Masters or angels. Ascended Masters are spiritual beings who once walked the earth like you and me. They faced the same challenges of day-to-day life, making peace with others, passing their tests and eventually fulfilling their reason for being, and then reuniting with or ascending back to God.
Talk to them about what is on your heart. Don’t be bashful – they dearly want to be your closest friends, and will listen to you with unconditional love.
5. Adjust your prayer according to the will of God.
There may be many things we desire – good health, more money, a better job, a new car. We all need money and other possessions to live in a material world, and God is more than happy to supply us with these things if it will bring us closer to him.
But God knows what is the best possible gift for us at any moment. There are many more things that he can and will give us-gifts of the Spirit like compassion, wisdom and healing that will make us a lot happier in ourselves, and more at peace with others.
So instead of asking that our prayer be answered as we want, you can ask that your prayer “be adjusted according to the will of God” to receive the answer that is best for you and for the souls whom you are praying for.
6. Use the name of God.
Some people can get great results in prayer just by speaking to God without using his name. But when you use the name of God, I AM THAT I AM, you increase the power of your prayer greatly.
When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, he told him to tell the children of Israel that his name is I AM THAT I AM and that “this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” The Jerusalem bible translates this as “This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.” When God revealed his name to Moses, he was giving us the authority to invoke him through his name. To use this in prayer, simply pray, “God, in your name I AM THAT I AM, please . . .”
Always pray out loud if possible. There is power in your voice. God used this power when he said: “Let there be light.” By using your gift of speech, you can also increase your prayer’s effectiveness.
7. Visualize what you want to happen.
What you think about when you pray can greatly affect the quality of your prayer. You can increase the power of your prayer by mentally seeing the answers to your prayers. Always picture something better than you are experiencing now, and see the answers to your prayers come to life, just like a movie. You can also visualize brilliant light surrounding the situation or problem. If you are working with a particular Master or angel, see them interceding on your behalf.
For example, if you are having difficulty forgiving someone, concentrate on feelings of peace, understanding and forgiveness. See the two of you hugging, making up and being friends. See that newfound friendship getting stronger with understanding and acceptance. Even if you don’t mean it to start off with and have to grit your teeth to do it, you will find that it works and, over time, will be able to love that person.
8. Let go.
You can increase your prayer’s power by letting go and turning over to God whatever you are praying about. When you do this, your prayer soars heavenward, allowing God and his angels to work on answering it without hindrance.
When you don’t let go, your energies can interfere with the prayer being answered as swiftly and as powerfully as possible. Don’t be attached to the outcome of your prayers and try not to anticipate how your desires will be fulfilled. For many, waiting for the answers to their prayers is their greatest test. They often become discouraged and give up just as God is about to answer their prayers.
If you have any doubts about God’s ability to answer your prayers, turn them over to him and ask him for the faith to believe in him.
9. Be grateful.
By cultivating gratitude, you open yourself to receiving more of God’s gifts. Gratitude is the law of increase. If you thank God not only for the answers you do receive, but for those you don’t, or unexpected answers, you open yourself up to receiving more from him. You can express this at the end of your prayer, for example, as you adjust your prayer according to God’s will you can say: “I thank you God and accept it done now with full power according to your will. Amen.”
You can also express your gratitude to God throughout the day and send him thanks for the answers to your prayers. Don’t be disappointed if your prayers aren’t answered immediately. God may be trying to lead you in another direction that will be more beneficial to you.
Prayer is two-way, so don’t forget to listen to God throughout the day for his replies. Be prepared for results, even if they aren’t the ones you are expecting. Many people have had their prayers answered even years later when they forgot all about them.
10. Be specific.
The more specific you are in your prayers, the better God is able to answer you. As long as you are living your life in harmony and devoting your energy to helping others, God will help you with the smallest details of your life.
For example, if you need a new car, include all the details – cost, make, model, year, registration, colour, condition and mileage. If you need a spiritual gift, such as compassion, explain the nature of the problem, such as judgment or criticism, when and where it appears, with whom and how. Ask God to help you overcome it, and be willing to follow his guidance from your heart.
It can help to make a list of all the things you need help with to be more specific. Ask yourself what you want out of your prayers. You can recite the list each day in prayer, ticking things off as they are answered, and adding new things as they arise.
11. Accept God’s gifts.
God wants to give us a lot – often all that we want and more. When we can surrender our desires to God and allow him to give us what he wants, we open ourselves up to an infinite source of abundance.
There may be times when you feel unworthy of God’s love and gifts. If you don’t feel worthy to accept God’s gifts, it helps to “act as if”. Act as if you are worthy, and a sense of worthiness will follow. You can also use affirmations to increase your sense of worthiness, for example, “I AM worthy to be loved because I AM a child of God.” Visualize yourself radiating love and light as God’s child while you repeat this affirmation.
You are a loving and precious child of God and deserve all that he has to offer.
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