Joy and Prayer

It’s amazing to me how much spiritual truth is buried in the Bible. They say the Bible is “veiled”, which is a pale word for the convoluted, twisted and misguided messages contained in that book. I’m not criticizing the Bible or the truth it contains but the humans who have tweaked it to fit their own agendas.

Take the message from the snowboarders on Amazing Race, 1 Thes 5:16, “be joyful and pray all the time”.

As a Christian, I could never understand how you could be joyful, which is being glad for what you have been given, and yet pray all the time asking for more. Or taken the other way, be joyful for whatever happens. Many Christians have stumbled over this one because it means if something “bad” happens, you are supposed be grateful. I’ve always wondered what in the heck God meant by that.

I’m beginning to get the message now that I’ve opened my thinking up to other spiritual ideas. The universe is a being or force with a magnitude of power we cannot even imagine. I have a book called “Your God is too small” which I find holds the key to the mystery of the power of God.

I have 3 x 5 cards outlining the attributes and descriptions of God from my days as a Christian. If it can be confined to one 3 x 5 card, your God is too small. I don’t like to even use the word “God” because it is a small word itself, bringing to mind old men sitting on thrones, kicking butt and taking names. The word “universe” at least gives one an inkling of the vast power and connectivity involved. If you can get your head around it, your God is too small!

When I first started looking into the spiritual life and what is involved in Oneness and the Power of the Universe, I was overwhelmed by the complexity. The spiritual section of the bookstore is full of thick volumes listing in infinite detail all that is to be mastered to be a spiritual person. Some of the writers are articulate and make it simple while others write in a manner that would leave a Mensa grad confused.

First, I thought the only way to be spiritual was to live as a hermit on the top of a mountain away from the busy humdrum life most of us Westerners live. But, it’s easy to be calm and spiritual when nothing is happening!

Then, I thought the only way would be to divest myself of everything and be a barefoot missionary in the wilds of Africa. They say you must give to receive, so….since I was already in my 60’s, this didn’t seem too realistic.

Finally, I realized that you most of us are called to “bloom where you are planted”, to borrow another popular Christian phrase, and make a spiritual life out of whom you are, where you are. No big decisions, no sea changes in your life, but baby steps as you learn and grow. How better to “witness” to those who know us best than to actually change before their eyes.

Gradually, I’ve learned to take better care of myself out of self respect. I’ve learned to limit contact, but not write off, people who seem to thrive in negativity. I’ve learned to trust the Universe, that is the plan that we all made during our vacations in the spirit world, and to fear the future less.

No, my life probably isn’t perfect, but I’ve learned that few people really know what perfection is anyway. I’m learning to live in the moment and enjoy where I am and what I am doing at the time. This is a big step forward from living in the dark corners of the past or chasing ghosts in the oblivion of the future.

The more I read and experience, the more I realize that it really is simple. Not easy, but simple. You have to be joyful and pray all the time. But what is joy and what is prayer?

Most Christians view prayer as supplication, asking for stuff. The other thing Christians do a lot of is “praise,” where we mortals dare to compliment God on the great job he’s doing. When you think about hurricanes and train wrecks as a Christian, it is hard to praise God. Or just telling God how great he is, as if he needed that. As if you brown nose enough, God will give you what you want. None of it made sense.

Now I realize that prayer is simply being grateful for whatever you have, whatever you are, wherever you are. As the world looks at it, there is always somebody worse off than you, so you might as well relax and enjoy.

And how can you be joyful for whatever happens? Because the universe always knows what you want, but it unerringly sends what you need. Sometimes those things are the same and you like what you get. Sometimes the things you need are not pleasant. Like someone said, if you pray for patience, the Universe is not going to send you patience. It will send you opportunities to BE patient. You probably won’t like them!

If you are saying, “I don’t need this right now!” you probably do. There’s a lesson you’ve been missing and you’re getting another opportunity to learn it.

When you get a flat tire and are delayed on a trip or an errand, you have no idea if it’s because you will miss a traffic accident, meet someone you need or simply share your wealth with someone who needs it.

However, the Universe does know and has a plan for the smallest detail of your life. All your small details dovetail into everyone else’s because we are all connected through the power of the Universe.

Because we are all connected, the Universe does indeed “work all things together for good” so that you meet the people you need to meet, learn the lessons you need to learn. We are forced to share whether we like it or not because, let’s face it, most of us have the maturity of a 3 year old. You may not think of it that way, but when you pay your bills, you are sharing your wealth. Wealth is like blood, it needs to be constantly circulated.

Therefore, be joyful and be grateful all the time. You may not like what you get, but it is guaranteed to be what you need. Our failing as humans is that we don’t want to wait 20 years to find out why things happen as they do. There are no accidents and no co-incidences.

It’s a waste of breath to tell the Universe what you want, although you may find some satisfaction in it. You can’t be joyful if you’re always asking for more. So the only thing really left for you to do is be joyful and grateful!

Like Jere Burns’ character on “Burn Notice” said, “The key to happiness is wanting what you get!”

Why are my prayers answered for someone else? Why did I manifest my daughter’s tires when she had no money to pay for them with winter coming on and two kids to protect? Maybe because our vision for someone else isn’t clouded by guilt, fear, worry over the future, means to the end or anything else. She needs tires? Great – she’ll get ‘em. It’s clear as a bell and is probably an “arrow prayer.”

Perhaps “agreement” as in the Bible is important because it forces us to talk to others about our wants and needs. You and I agree you need tires and voila! There they are. It could be as simple as the fact that people don’t know what you need unless you tell them. So many times when someone has shared a need with me, I’ve had what they want in a box in my garage! I feel good getting rid of it and they are grateful they didn’t have to buy it.

Prayer for others only works because we are connected. The Universe seems to use these connections to bring us what we need, and sometimes what we want. Anyone who thinks that our lives are random has not paid attention to the details all around them. Only the power of the Universe could bring all these threads together and weave a tapestry!

Why do some people seem so hard and grasping, unable to give love or anything else? Because they are so worried and lack trust, they only have time and energy to worry about their own problems. They can’t be bothered with you.

They have shut off that connection to others through the Universe and they are to be pitied and prayed for. You don’t have to be tangled up with them and poisoned by their attitude. You are being victimized if you can only relate to someone through negativity. But you can have compassion for them, their pain and what they are missing. By praying for them, I mean keep them compassionately in your thoughts and send positive energy. Praying specifically that they will get or do something is presumptive on our part. We don’t really know what they need, except our love.

Oftentimes, the only way to have compassion is to have lived through it yourself. No fun at the time, but it makes you a better human. It’s much easier to love an annoying person when you can see you are one yourself!

I didn’t know what I wanted until 2011, at the age of 66. I went to Long Beach for a vacation and got sick instead. I did nothing but lie around and read. I read a book I didn’t like and said to myself, “I can write better than this! I talked to my son about writing. When I got home, I started writing both to see if I could do it and to inspire him. I discovered I had a dream to be a successful writer. This dream and expressing my creativity smashed open doors that I thought were closed forever. Deepak Chopra is right. Once those doors open, you will never go back to your old thinking habits!

Even while I was sick and depressed later in the year, I was able to keep the vision of my dream alive and give thanks for the passion of life. More than ever, my sense of humor helped me keep perspective and I didn’t sink into the morass of anxiety. Anxiety is just another thought habit. Your brain is used to those pathways and it takes time and effort to blast new pathways through the dense material of habit!

This is the first time in my life I have worked on making my own dreams come true. I’ve always helped make other people’s dreams come true. I give thanks that I have a dream and that I still have the means to make it come true.

I am investing in myself for the first time, too! I believe that the universe will honor my desires and my newfound ability to mold the possibilities to suit ME! I believe it will bring at least some of the things I want along with what I need. Or at least help me want what I need….

It’s all a hologram and if you don’t control your own programming, you are at the mercy of everyone else’s hologram! Make one you like.

Miracles? They are all around you on a daily basis. The Universe is so well organized and working according to plan that these daily miracles are disguised as the normal process of life. The Universe doesn’t get credit for most of what happens.

Two people get together, fall in love and have a baby. How ordinary, yet what a miracle!

You go somewhere you didn’t really want to go and discover the love of your life. Tell me that’s not a miracle.

Someone just “happens” to come into your life with the solution to a problem you have been grappling with, perhaps for years. Can you really think this is an accident?

You read a book you don’t like and start writing because you know you can do it better.

Sure, there are observed miracles from time to time, but for the most part the Universe just quietly makes everything work without being obvious. What a three ring circus it would be if everything was what the world views as a miracle. It would sure keep the news media busy!

“I’m not together, but I’m getting there” in the words of John Mayer. I seem to be able to fill up the ruts my life was stuck in and find it easier to stay out of the haunted houses of memories and future worries. Like going on a roller coaster, I seem to like to scare myself once in a while!

Each time something scary happens, the Universe performs another daily miracle and I am gradually learning to trust. Yes, the lessons might hurt, might hurt a lot, but so far I’ve learned something and grown from every experience. Some of my whys have been answered, since that is so important to me. I’m grateful that the Universe does let us sometimes glimpse the inner workings.

So my prayer for everyone is that they will recognize what they need and learn from it; that they will rejoice in the process of life and learn to love.

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