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When I Pray

I am now in the presence of pure Being, and immersed in the Holy Spirit of life,
love, and wisdom. I acknowledge Thy presence and Thy power, O blessed
Spirit. In Thy divine wisdom now erase my mortal limitations and from Thy pure
substance of love bring into manifestation my world, according to Thy perfect
law. This is one of Charles Fillmore’s most well known prayers. It is a prayer,
an invocation of Spirit, an affirmation and a perfect way to center in God.

So what exactly happens when we pray? There are billions of ways to pray—
because there are over 7 billion people on this planet. People pray in many
languages and in many traditions. Do atheists pray? Do foxhole prayers of
desperation count? Do prayers work? What is the scientific evidence? We
create a lot of beliefs around prayer but I am going to throw out some beliefs
that are my personal beliefs. They are a product of not only Unity experience
but my life experiences. First, I think the best thing that happens when we
pray, no matter when, where or how, is that for an instant, we connect with
Spirit. Those are the simple healing, renewing, life giving moments our soul,
knowingly or unknowingly, longs for. My personal definition of prayer is my
soul’s longing for its Source. I was challenged, by someone in this
congregation, that this definition implied separation. Not in my interpretation.
Longing for me is more like a tidal movement than a separation. Rivers run to
the sea—water seeks its own level. It is a principle of flow, not separation. I
believe that we all seek to be a part of something greater than ourselves. It
doesn’t matter what we call it or name it or identify it. For Humanists and
Unitarians, it can be hoping to do good and be a part of compassion in our
world. I do not think it is necessary for you to believe in the Universe for it to
exist. I do not think you have to know God or name God for God to exist and
respond to you.

This does bring up the interesting concept of God. The Pure Beingness; the
Holy Spirit; the Divine; Divine Mind; Love; Allah; Yahweh; Brahman; the list is
endless. Prayer invites us into the mystery of God and our relationship.
Many of us were raised with the concept of a “God” located somewhere outside
us. Usually up high. Greek gods lived on the mountaintops. Our God lived
in heaven, somewhere really, really high. Above the clouds. Space travel sort
of messed with that concept because we got to see what really was above the
clouds. Vast emptiness. Stars. More planets. Hmmm…none of those seemed
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like places our God would live. Still, many people have a concept about an
outside God, above us. We may have been taught this God had human
qualities like judgment, vengeance, love, compassion, and mercy. This God
could give and could take away. Generally, the male pronoun was used in
teaching us about God and we were all exposed to the Michelangelo paintings
of God.

Then we came to Unity. Here we are. Unity introduces the idea of the Divine
within us. Actually, it’s not a new concept. It feels new because previously,
the idea of the Divine within was more prevalent among mystics, not the
general population and not the general congregations. Rumi says, “I looked in
temples, churches and mosques. But I found the Divine within my heart.”
Rumi was a mystic. Saint Patrick says, “Christ shield me today against
wounding; Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me; Christ in the heart of everyone who
thinks of me.” Saint Patrick was a mystic. We all become mystics when we
move into that place of exploring what is our concept of God and what is our
relationship? Right now I invite you to be comfortable with the idea that you
are a mystic. Not weird, not above others, not isolated, not special. Just
someone willing to be in the mystery of God.

While we are here in the mystery, let’s consider that this Divinity is more than
within us; it is everywhere present. It is beyond our understanding. Rumi
says, “Stop acting small. You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.” Saint
Patrick says, “I arise today through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun,
splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of the wind, depth of the sea,
stability of the earth, firmness of the rock.” In Acts chapter 17, Paul is trying
to explain his concept of God to the Athenians, still worshiping many deities.
It is written that he said, “The God who made the world and everything in it,
he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human
hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything,
since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one
ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the
times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would
live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find
him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For "In him we live and
move and have our being'.”

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Remember Fillmore, “I am in the presence of pure Being.”

So Unity’s concept of prayer is not a conversation with something outside us


or even a conversation with something inside us. Prayer is an experience of
or consciousness of Being. We create that opening and I call that opening
prayer. I consider prayer to be an exchange of energy. I don’t think the
Universe hears words or needs a translator because the Universe responds to
energy. In the vastness of the appearance of emptiness is energy. Alive,
vibrating, substance forming energy. We generate energy with our thoughts,
our emotions, our words.

Eric Butterworth, in The Universe Is Calling, says this about prayer: “So
prayer is not something we do to God, or a ceremony we perform for God. It is
an experience of our own God-potential. … We do not really pray to God,
rather we pray from a consciousness of God. Prayer is not conditioning God
with our needs, but conditioning our lives with the activity of God. Prayer is
self-realization, self-expansion. It is getting centered within, and
reestablishing ourselves in the flow of the infinite creative process.”

James Dillet Freeman, not only a writer but also a director of Silent Unity
prayer ministry, says this: “There is a way to get the power of God to do what
we want it to do; to heal us when we need healing; to suppoly our needs when
we feel lack; to comfort us when we are troubled; to bring us friends when we
are lonely, joy for grief and peace for pain; to light our path when we are lost
and wander frightened in the dark.

It is the way a rainbow is made after rain. It is the way that morning is made
to follow night and spring is made to come after winter. It is the way that a
bare branch brings forth green leaves. It is the way the mist rises out of the
sea, and the way that an ugly waterbug changes into a dragonfly.

Do you know this way? It is the way of attunement. It is the way of being one
with the way of things.

At the core of being is a rhythm; when you place yourself in tune with this
cosmic rhythm, all things work together for you and you work in harmony
with all things. There is a way of things. That is all you can say of it.

But learn the way of things and follow the way—walk in the way, work in the
way—and everything will go your way.
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The Universe is God’s work. God made it to move and grow, to unfold and
expand. When you move with the universe, the universe moves with you—and
through you and for you. …all the forces of the universe—all the expanding
energies of life—are focused in you and pour through you to come into
expression.”

“Learn the way of things” Freeman says. “According to Thy perfect law”
Fillmore says. “In the flow of the infinite creative process” Butterworth says.

This sermon was difficult to write. Not because I didn’t know what to say. Not
because I don’t like the topic. Because I had trouble finding a space in the
busy-ness to become still and let the sermon flow. My days this week began
early and ended late. My prayers were in the car in traffic, breathing to
connect with a truth beyond what I saw. My prayer was in a line at Giant,
sending compassion to the two gentlemen in front of me spewing hatred born
out of fear and sending protection to a young woman potentially a target for
their kindled hatred. My prayer was feeling the beautiful energy that filled
this sanctuary on September 11th, and an exchange with the channel 69
cameraman touched by our service. My prayer was finding a recent Unity
booklet on Prayer under my hand, right on my desk. Lots of connections, flows
of energy and perfect unfolding. Lots that challenged me to see beyond the
appearance of war, of death, of injustice.

Prayer is an experience I cannot explain, I cannot exactly define and I cannot


give you. Prayer is an experience centered in you. What I want to do today is
to take some time for prayer. It began with our opening prayer, continued
through the Daily Word, perhaps sparked during this sermon. In our
meditation time, I will lead us through Unity’s 5 step prayer process. Let us
prepare by singing, right here, right now, “When I Pray”.

We begin with relaxation. I invite you to close your eyes. Get comfortable in
your chair. Put away anything in your lap. Gently move your head to the left,
as your ear moves towards your shoulder. Bring your head but up to center
and then move it gently to the right. Don’t push too hard but feel the tension
we hold in our neck and shoulders relax. Shrug your shoulders up and then
down. Feel the back of the chair support your back and relax the muscles in
your back. Flex your feet up towards your body and then release them to rest
naturally. Let your hands rest in your lap.
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Now begin to focus on your breath. We move our concentration to the activity
of Spirit in us, as us. We allow our attention to move, with our breath, out of
our head and into our heart space. We are in the presence of pure Being,
immersed in the Holy Spirit of life, love, and wisdom. We can feel our
thoughts slowing. Our focus is attuning to the way of things.

As we move into meditation, I invite you to find a centering prayer thought.


Carrying forward our World Day of Prayer, center on I AM the light of God in
this world. Or I AM pure Being. If you have a concern, center on the Truth
beyond your concern. I AM Divine Life. I AM Love. I AM Wisdom. I AM
Peace. The prayer thought on our peace pole: Peace prevails on earth. Find
the place for your intention today and open to that energy.

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In the silence of your soul, know that you are one with God. Allow this
realization to permeate your being. Know that the activity of Spirit is ongoing;
that time in prayer is always productive.

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Because we pray from a consciousness of God, and because we live centered in


the activity of God, we are grateful. We claim the manifestation according to
God’s perfect law, moment by moment, and we say Thank You God.

And so it is. Amen.