The Calculated Risks of Prayer – Part 3: We Can Become More Christlike

I’m a little long-winded this week – sorry! If it’s any consolation it was a lot longer before I did a massive edit!

I should first establish the meaning of the term “Christlike” before I get into the real meat of this discussion. For most Christians, Christlike just means being like Jesus, because the belief is that Jesus is Christ. For the purposes of this week’s blog I’d like you to think a little more outside of that concept.

In discussing the essence of being “Christlike” I am referring to a more universal Christ Consciousness. In Religious Science we do not deny Jesus his divinity, or that he embodied all that is the Christ. But, we also recognize the divinity in all people as God expressing through us. Jesus the Christ saw through all the warts and scars of people to their true essence, be that innocence or malevolence. If we can emulate that same quality, how could that be a risk? How could it possibly be a bad thing?

First let me say that I am not judging it good or bad. I am only saying that there is risk involved. Like with the other three risks, this risk is worth the effort. However, all too often we blindly go forward in life thinking that just because we are doing something positive with our life then everyone will support us and all will be just hunky dory.

Not so. Developing a Christ Consciousness is one of inclusion and spiritual awareness. This is not a popular concept in the world of material success where western society teaches us that there is only room at the top for one and that we must do all possible to attain that top rung on the ladder to prosperity.

There is nothing at all wrong with success. In fact, if we are taking responsibility for our lives and adhering to the universal principle of cause and effect then success is guaranteed. When I feel like I’m not getting what I think I deserve – note I said “think” I deserve, because I believe I’m always getting exactly what I deserve regardless of how it looks – I remember the concepts with which I was raised as a child. My parents may disagree with me about this and in part I suppose that my childhood belief system about success and prosperity were founded more on my interpretation of those concepts rather than what my parents may have believed at the time or even today.

Nonetheless, as a child, success to me meant that there was probably something illegal, unscriptural and basically immoral going on. Mother used to say that just about anything she thought was fun was illegal, unscriptural, immoral or fattening…and often a combination of one or all of the above! The message I got was that for me to be a good Christian in the eyes of Jehovah I had to be pious, acting at all times in a way that would allow me to escape destruction of this system of things on the earth and be rewarded with everlasting life in paradise.

That meant that not obtaining a higher education and just getting by financially was just peachy, because Jesus and the apostles were poor and downtrodden, so I should be, too. I’m sure I will blog in the future about how none of that is true and that some of the most affluent people were Christians in the first century. Lydia, for example, was a seller of purple fabrics and garments (not a shabby living in the first century – think Coco Chanel in 50 A.D.). She accepted the Apostle Paul’s message and embraced the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. But like I said, that’s another blog! Back to Christ Consciousness and the risks. When we embrace the concepts of becoming more Christlike by directing our prayers, believing in results and taking charge of our lives something transforming occurs in our experience. We begin to see results. We recognize ourselves and others around us for who we are: Spiritual beings having a human experience.

Are you searching for spirituality, your spiritual nature? Look no further; you are already as spiritual as you’re ever going to get. What changes, and looks like a higher degree of spirituality, is our conscious awareness of the divinity within us and other people. As our awareness grows our lives change. Unhealthy habits and attitudes die a welcome death of neglect. People with whom we used to engage in unwholesome activities, be they “bad habits” or just those who can’t complain enough about how downtrodden they are, suddenly slink away into the darkness and go on being a psychic vampire with someone else who is willing to be their victim.

The risk when this happens is to run back to what is familiar. We humans like familiar. We basically enjoy knowing the outcome before we start because we can count on the result being the same. Change something in our lives and we have to deal with the unfamiliar and a different result. When we are Christlike we see the Truth in every situation in our lives and that means we are going to need to embrace change.

Embracing the unknown can be a painful process that can be scary. Two thoughts of admonition come to mind. The first one I heard from my teacher and friend, the Reverend Dr. Arleen Bump: “Pain is a given. Suffering is optional”. The other I first heard from another great teacher and friend, the late Rev. Helen Street: “When you’re going through hell, go through it. Don’t stop, get a realtor and decide to buy property.” In other words, don’t get stuck in the stuff. Move forward no matter what.

We have to jump into the pool without necessarily looking to see if there is water in the pool. We must believe that the universe supports us unconditionally. Not only is there going to be water in the pool, but it’s going to be warm, wonderful and filled with playmates. Spirit will support us. There may be times in our humanness when we do not feel that as strongly as we hope to. If that happens, know there are likeminded people around you who can be the Christ light if there are times of personal darkness. If you want support, it is available with just a thought because God (or Spirit, or Divine Love or whatever you want to call all that Is and all of which we are aware) is always there, always accessible and forever reliable. I hope that if I can be of support to you in some way that you’ll call, write or send up a flare so that we can treat and pray together for your highest and greatest good.

Be willing to embrace the spiritual you. Open to being guided in all you think, say and do by the Divine Wisdom within you. Take the risk of recognizing your Christlike nature and enjoy the rewards it brings. Till next week when we look at Risk #4, the biggest risk of all: The Danger of Having Our Prayers Answered.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry

panewthoughtcenter@gmail.com

The Calculated Risks of Prayer – Part 2: Seeing Ourselves as We Really Are

In the first “risk” of prayer I wrote about beating ourselves up for not getting what we want; or feeling that we’ve done something wrong, which is why our prayers are not answered. The remedy to that is to take it a little easier on ourselves when things don’t work out to our liking and re-evaluate why it is we think we want what we wanted in the first place!

The second risk has to do with what can be revealed to us as a result of our prayers. The inscription at the oracle of Delphi reads, “Know Thyself”. Being honest with ourselves about who we are and what we believe can be a daunting undertaking. We often think of ourselves as we wish we were – or as we hope others see us! – not as we really are.

Human beings seem to have an innate ability to use numerous devises to escape the facts, many of which are very creative. “I’m just a little tired” could really mean, “I’ve been working myself to death”. “I guess I should lose a few pounds” sounds a lot different when it comes from our physician when she says, “You are obese”.

We have to strike a balance between “Truth” and “truth”. The “Truth” is that in Divine Mind we are whole complete and perfect. But the “truth” we demonstrate in our lives may not always reflect that perfection. For example, we know the universe is abundant, but we can get into a feeling of lack if we are without funds or without an appreciation of the blessings we already have in our life. Sometimes in metaphysics we can get so caught up in the perfection of the universe that we forget we chose a corporeal form this time around. I’ve often called this “blithering metaphysical blindness”. Being human comes with a few rules on the physical plane, like not jumping off a cliff even though we know we are spirit having a human experience. The risk in our prayers is that if we are honest with ourselves and our higher power, we may have to admit a few “issues”.

In the teachings of the Science of Mind we do not deny problems, as do some spiritual paths. One of the major differences between Christian Science and the Science of Mind (or Religious Science) is that Christian Science views what we know as the physical world to be an illusion. I am not saying that notion is right or wrong; it’s simply their belief. Dr. Ernest Homes, the founder of the Science of Mind philosophy wrote about problems on page 100 of the Science of Mind textbook. He said, “Our problems are not an illusion. They are as real as we need them to be."

This begs the question, How real do we need our problems to be? Sometimes we are so stuck in the problem that we hold onto that which we say we want to discard by using all those “reasons” why our lives can’t change. Often these are not reasons. They are excuses. Think of a problem or challenge that you are currently having in your life. Got it? Okay…how hard do you fight to defend the notion that your situation cannot change? That’s how real you want the problem to be.

Seeing ourselves as we really are requires that we voluntarily face the truth about ourselves. We have to ask the hard questions: What are my motives? What is the payoff for keeping this situation around, the one I can’t stop complaining about? What are my dominate desires and why am I not moving forward to fulfill them? What are my weaknesses? What is my attitude toward others – do I rejoice in their success or wallow in jealousy? Do I want to change, or am I just into complaining and being a martyr?

The success we have in life and in the answers to our prayers must not be held to the standards of others. We must measure our success by our own ideals, ethics and principles. When we are willing to see ourselves as we really are all the flimsy excuses that hide our inner spiritual poverty come down. Once we have faced the truth we can then turn to prayer for spiritual guidance. The universe will lead us to our next step on the path to what we wish to become. This process is a pre-requisite to moral progress, hard our pride, but necessary nonetheless.

Until next time, when we will look at Risk #3 – We Can Become More Christlike

The Calculated Risks of Prayer (Part 1 of 4)

Virtually all people, all cultures throughout the planet have some form of prayer. Perhaps you are, like me, a religious scientist who uses a form of prayer called “spiritual mind treatment”. Have you ever given any thought to the risk of having your prayers or treatments answered? You might ask how there could be any risk at all? Before I speak to that, let’s look at prayer and treatment.

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There are several kinds of prayer, but most are offered up with the hope of comfort or assurance. Spiritual mind treatment usually involves five steps that are adapted to the reason for the treatment. The more traditional kind of prayer that most Christians use includes the three elements of confession, petition and thanksgiving.

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When we talk about confession, many people think of admitting sins to a priest or coming clean to a law enforcement officer. Confession can also simply acknowledging where we are. Being brutally honest with ourselves about where we are at any given time is the first step to changing our experience. Anyone involved in a 12-step program of any kind will tell you admitting where we are is a key element in recovery.

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To petition usually means to us that we are asking someone for something. Another meaning is “to seek”. In treatment we do not beg God to answer our prayers, but rather seek to understand our circumstances and align our thinking in a more positive way. We are not petitioning Spirit to give us something, but rather seeking the truth and wisdom within us. Treatment positively states what we desire to be and affirms that we are willing to accept it.

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Finally, thanksgiving or rejoicing is the way most people end a treatment and traditional Christianity gives thanks to Jesus Christ. The Hebrew scriptures of the Bible are filled with stories about how the Israelites rejoiced with song, dancing and celebration when the nation believed the God Jehovah had blessed them. It’s just my personal opinion and judgment, but it seems like so many wonderful people who call themselves Christians often fail to rejoice in the blessings God pours out upon them for fear that they are not living up to the appearance of being modest and humble. I think that’s sad….but, I digress….

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So here is Risk #1: We can beat ourselves up if we think our prayer is not answered or that treatment “didn’t work”. If this happens we run the risk of falling into guilt or shame of a toxic nature. The prayer or the treatment did not cause these emotions, but they can easily be blamed for them.

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Spiritual mind treatment differs from traditional prayer because of the power of treatment. It is also dissimilar in the amount of personal responsibility we take for the outcome. A caution in being a religious scientist or any metaphysician is that because we do take responsibility for our lives we can easily blame ourselves when things do not go the way we expect them to turn out. This is the difference between believing in a God that punishes or rewards based on our behalf compared to the belief that we live in a “user-friendly universe” that only says “yes” to our desires. If we believe the latter, we might think that we “didn’t treat right” or it was our entire fault we did not get what we wanted, i.e., if God only says “yes” and something did not work out, then we must have blocked the goodness of the Universe.

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So what do you think of Part #1 in the Calculated Risks of Prayer? Let me know! Email me at: panewthoughtcenter@gmail.com, or make comments here in the blog. Until next week with the next risk: Seeing Ourselves as We Really Are.

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Happy Easter, Blessed Ostara and Good Passover – The Season of Resurrection and Rebirth!

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Dr. Terry