1 – Prayer of the Heart
“Strictly speaking, words play no part at all in healing. The motivating factor is prayer, or asking. What you ask for you receive. But this refers to the prayer of the heart, not to the words you use in praying. (M53)”
2 – ACIM
The Course does not say a tremendous amount about prayer, though, we might realize, much is implied (an interpretation of the Course). Here we see the “asking” prayer, and we receive a warning: What you ask for you receive, if it is the prayer of the heart. Elsewhere we learn that if we pray for something, and are actually afraid of it, we will not receive it, because our fear contradicts our asking. Being afraid is a certainty that what we are asking is not a prayer of the heart.
3 – Unanswered Prayer?
All of us have prayed for healing and have seemingly not had some of those prayers answered. Jesus says that we have chosen various symptoms of pain, and if we remain unhealed truly, we may just replace one chosen symptom with another. We do not know, usually, what the Self truly wants–even unto death. We may pray for our healing, and to remain alive, when the Self has decided that this body is best laid aside. We are assured that there is no true death, that we are creatures of eternity.
4 – What Does the Self Want?
So keep in mind that turning to the Holy Spirit for guidance about what the Self wants may be the best choice.
5 – Symbols of Symbols
“Let us not forget, however, that words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality. (M53)”
6 – Prayer of Silence
So I surmise here that the prayer of the heart that works best—if efficacy is what we want—is a prayer of silence, a darting, longing toward what we view as God, however we view Him. I am thinking of the anonymous medieval treatise on mysticism, entitled The Cloud of Unknowing. This writer emphasizes just a wordless longing that we feel when we are in our best moments in prayer. We reach out to God as we conceive Him (and A Course in Miracles says that God is the All, the One), with a heartfelt longing that is close to our heart. In so doing, we will experience the Presence of God—unless we are caught in the throes of suffering a dark night of the soul (when God seems absent, but only absent in illusion, for He never departs).
7 – Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa is said to have mostly, throughout her long life, failed to find the sweet tenderness of God’s love in her prayers. Her letters have testified to this. She did not waver in her faith, though she missed the sweetness. Atheists have brought this unusual aspect in Mother Teresa to try to claim evidence that God does not exist, for would He withhold Himself from so faithful a servant as Mother Teresa?
8 – Barrenness in Prayer
No one knows why absence was Mother Teresa’s experience of God. But knowing this can give us solace when we go through a period of barrenness in prayer. We are not to seek the sweetness as an end in itself. We are to seek God for Himself alone.
9 – Experience
“The prayer of the heart does not really ask for concrete things. It always requests some kind of experience, the specific things asked for being the bringers of the desired experience in the opinion of the asker. (M53)”
10 – Asking
So here we are encouraged not to spend all of our time, at least, asking for specifics. We are actually wanting to experience something, and our heartfelt words, often rendered silently, are believed to bring about this experience in our daily life.
11 – The Heart
The prayer of the heart, we are told elsewhere, is always answered. If our words deny the heart, then our words are not answered. The heart always knows what it wants, and this is what is answered. If the heart contradicts something that we say, in prayer, that we want, we will not receive that something. If we are afraid of having something that we ask for, we will not receive it, either, for the fear means that the heart has not spoken.
12 – May Not Recognize
The heart always is quiet and peaceful in its asking for a specific experience. And the prayer is answered, though we may not always recognize the answer when it comes. This latter point is important, for all too often, in our limited way, we rail against God for not answering our prayers.
13 – Folk Wisdom
It has been said that God always answers: Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes, wait. This is not repeated in A Course in Miracles, but in my reading there is nothing in ACIM that contradicts this folk wisdom.
14 – Words
“The words, then, are symbols for the things asked for, but the things themselves but stand for the experiences that are hoped for. (M53)”
15 – Real World
So we use words, often, in prayer, and they are symbols that are actually removed from the real world. The real world is God’s gift to us when we have fulfilled the conditions of salvation. And it is not really physical. It is an experience that immediately precedes our Awakening, a step that only God can take for us. He metaphorically reaches down and lifts us up, against all reasoning. We cannot achieve Awakening, and the striving for it will mean that the ego has created a problem that will not be dissolved until we get ourselves out of the way.
15 – Be Careful
We can ask for any experience, but the most stern warning is also folk wisdom: Be very careful what you set your heart upon, for you will surely receive it.
16 – Overwrought
With that in mind, it behooves us to ask God what is really best for us before we engage in prayer. He will answer in the quiet of our heart, when our mind is stilled and our emotions have settled down to peace. We cannot “hear” when we are overwrought.
Please bring my prayers into my heart, asking for what the Self truly wants, and only for what is good in Your sight. May I receive the assurance that prayers of the heart are always answered.
Thank you for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I pray. Thank You for being there for me.