On Sunday, October 23, 2011, Rev. Linda Chappo addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco CA. The following is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
I'd like to thank you all for coming out on this beautiful day. I want to welcome everyone. The name of my talk is “The Anatomy of Prayer.” I’m going to tell you in advance what it’s about. This is from the email announcement that was sent out. “A Course In Miracles has a radically different approach to prayer. Prayer is not a ‘To Do List’ of demands we make on God, but instead, it’s a love song to our Creator. Join with me this Sunday as I talk about my experiential adventures with the way the Course really wants us to pray. I will share my experience, insights, and results. Join the conversation and share your own miracle minded way of praying.”
As many of us know, the politically correct way of getting things that we want was spoken about in the movie and the book, The Secret. I call that metaphysical manifestation. It seems like this frequently takes the place of prayer. This is when we are asking the universe for the things that we might want in our mirs. The rules of that are basically: know what you want, visualize it, ask the universe, affirm what you want in the present tense, and then of course take action. What we tend to do is ask for a new car, right mirlihood, romantic relationships, loose that last 10 pounds, take away the signs of aging … those are all things that we play with. I don’t know about you, but for myself, I’ve gotten a lot of disappointing results with this. (laughter) Sometimes it kind of works out and other times it doesn’t. What I realize is, and A Course In Miracles is really clear on this, when we pray like that, it’s based on the needs of the ego and not the spirit.
A Course In Miracles talks about the way that it would like us to pray. It’s talked about all throughout the Course. With the time limit that I have I can’t say all that the Course talks about. The booklet, The Song of Prayer, was also channeled by Helen Schucman shortly after she had finished the Course. Jesus spoke to her, talked to her about prayer, and what Jesus’ thoughts were on prayer. I took all of my information today from that booklet. The Song of Prayer says, “It is not easy to realize that prayers for things, for status, for human love, for eternal ‘gifts’ of any kind, are always made to set up jailers to hide from guilt. These things are used for goals that substitute for God, and therefore distort the purpose of prayer.” (Song.1.III.6) When I looked at this word “guilt” I thought – what? To hide from guilt? In my mind, what that is about is the first separation that we had from God, the guilt that we have from that. That is what this is about.
A Course In Miracles says that prayer is a love song to God. Prayer is about remembering God, remembering our oneness and our holiness. I’m always reminded of the song, “The Wings Beneath My Feet.” Many of you may remember that song. When I’m praying now I sometimes think of that song.
A Course In Miracles says that there is a ladder of prayer. There are rungs that you will walk up as you become more aware. The first level of prayer is wanting. This is like the metaphysical manifestations in The Secret. This is prayer out of the sense of scarcity or lack. The Song of Prayer says, “… asking-out-of-need, always involves feelings of weakness and inadequacy...” (Song.1.II.2) In other words, we are saying I don’t have the things I want. I’m lacking here, and I’m too weak to get them. I’m too this, or I’m too that. I’m not manifesting what I want. But the truth is that this statement of lack, “… could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is.” (Song.1.II.2) It’s clear that when we are asking out of this wanting place, we’re not remembering who we are – who we really are in connection, union, and oneness with God. We’re asked to dispense with idols and to remember God instead.
Another quote from The Song of Prayer, “… overlook your specific needs as you see them, and let them go into God’s hands.” (Song.1.I.4) They’re giving us the solution here. Any of the things that we think would hurt us, turn them over – any fears, concerns, and issues. Don’t hang on to that; just turn it over. Let it go. It goes on to say, “… they become gifts to Him.” (Song.1.I.4) I thought, that’s really kind of an odd gift to God, to give Him what would hurt me, but A Course In Miracles says, “No.” The whole idea of the Course is to go to God and to be free of all these things. Turn them over and let them go. This might be your lack of money, right mirlihood, maybe the relationship you are looking for … any of the myriad of things that we all seek in this world.
Another level higher, level two, is when we reach a higher form of asking out of need. On this rung in the ladder of prayer, we begin to identify with God in a stronger way. We still have needs and wants. We’re aware that we want this and we want that to feel fulfilled, or to make us feel happy. Although A Course In Miracles says getting these things doesn’t really make us feel fulfilled or happy. The Song of Prayer tells us that here, a vague and unstable sense of identification with God has been reached. (See:Song.1.II.3) Here, we pretty much know that we have this connection with God, but we don’t trust or have faith enough to truly get it. So, we still ask for things of this world, but we also ask for abstract things like goodness, honesty, and that’s when it comes into a little bit more balance. We’re asking for right perception. For me, this is when I feel like I’ve evolved in my study of the Course. I’m not just at the level of always asking from my “To Do List” for God. Okay, let’s just check these next things off here. Instead, it’s Holy Spirit, God, please give me the right perception. Let me look at this differently. The lessons of the day help us to establish different affirmations of how we might look at the world in a better way, in a more peaceful way.
The top rung of the ladder is transformation. The Song of Prayer says at this level of praying, “… the things of the earth are left behind, all unremembered. There is no asking, for there is no lack.” (Song.1.II.7) When we’ve reached this level we know that prayer is designed to extend love – extending love to God, extending love to the universe, our fellow man, in all situations. The Song of Prayer says, “God is the Goal of every prayer.” (Song.1.II.8) Keeping this in mind is what faith and trust are all about. God will take care of the details. We just need to be there to love God, to remember this when things go wrong throughout the day and when things don’t turn out the way we think they should. The Course says that this is when we are listening to the still small Voice.
In today’s reading from “What are the role of words in healing?” It says, “The prayer of the heart does not really ask for concrete things. It always requests some kind of experience” (OrEd.Mn.21.2) This is something that I’ve been working on for a long time. Instead of asking for a certain specific job or a type of employment, I ask for an enriching experience, right mirlihood. There’s a way of rewording, or rethinking, what you want in your life. We turn over the part that is upsetting or that we are not getting.
What I realize about this kind of prayer is that it is not at all in alignment with The Secret, or metaphysical manifestation, where I specifically say, “This is what I want.” Instead, what A Course In Miracles is guiding us to do is let it go. Turn it over. Just remember your oneness. Let it go.
This was a challenge for me. My experience has been that I have wanted to get to the point of transformation. I know that I’ve been on the bottom rungs of the prayer ladder for a long, long time. I did an experiment. In the last couple of months I developed a ritual where, before I got out of bed in the morning, I would spend five minutes with God. That isn’t very much but, that was what I was willing to do at that time. Of course, I remembered God throughout the day. I wanted to start my day with remembering God. I would be guided. There would be a Voice. Everything would happen as it was supposed to, according to God’s will and not mine. My experiment was to not ask for anything. That was very challenging – not ask for anything. Just go ahead and say, I remember you. I remember our oneness. Let’s have a sharing of love. The Song of Prayer says that “Prayer is a stepping aside, a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving.” (Song.1.1.5) That’s what I did. I didn’t ask for anything.
One of the things I had been asking over the years was for a relationship, a romantic relationship. At the same time, I’ve always had mixed feelings about it. I want it; I don’t want it. There’s things about a relationship I don’t want. There’s things about a relationship I do want. Because of my mixed feelings, the conflicts that I had, I always had the sense that I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I had conflict in my mind. I had this split mind, and a romantic relationship wasn’t going to come to me as long as there were blocks.
Okay, I let go of that. A couple of weeks ago I was working at a job in Union Square (the main business district in downtown San Francisco) I made a connection with someone who, on the surface, appeared to be exactly like what I was looking for. I went “Oooooohhhh!” (laughter) And that’s where the glitch came in. (more laughter) There’s this person, and we’re kind of flirting. Then we get a chance to meet. What happened was, I had an opportunity to pursue this, but I didn’t. Instead I went into fear. The details are too embarrassing to talk about. I will never know what could have been, because I did not pursue it. My heart should have melted, but instead I froze. I walked away. Through the next couple of days, I said to my neighbor, “Just kick me. Would you?” (laughter) I was stuck. I was given the opportunity for something that I thought I really wanted and I didn’t take it.
It took a couple of days before I had my “Ah Ha!” moment. Maybe there’s still a wall around my heart. There’s some blocks I need to work on. In the moment that I was with this person, I was judging me. He wasn’t judging me. I was. What I realized was I needed to heal my mind. That was something that was obviously called for in that moment. It’s taken me awhile to work through that, but afterwards I went into my prayer and I just thanked God for the awareness of how I could improve. This fear was the stumbling block that was keeping me from the romantic relationship that perhaps I wanted. I don’t know if he was the right person. I didn’t even get to find that out about him. I didn’t get to reject him later or have him reject me. That didn’t happen. I didn’t get that far. Maybe next time I will, because I feel that this was a lesson for me. When I think about it, it felt like a test in a way. It was like a practice run. (laughter) This person was made to order. It was like, I’ll have my burger with a pickle and french fries and all this and that. (laughter) I didn’t jump on it. What I realized was I still needed to work on myself. There is a block there – maybe lots of blocks that I can still work on.
In closing, I want to say look into your own hearts. If you aren’t getting the things you want after you have been meditating on them and using the rules of The Secret, look within to see whatever blocks might be there. Meditate on them. Pray. Find out what the next step might be for you.
I’d like to finish with a quote. Someone once said that God likes to answer prayer in three ways. “Yes” “No” and “You’ve got to be kidding!” (laughter) That’s my talk today. Thank you. (applause)
(Rev. Linda Chappo was ordained an *A Course In Miracles* Minister by the Community Miracles Center on January 14, 1995. She was our 14th minister. She is the author of *Marry Yourself First* sold through the *ACIM* Store.) Y
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This article appeared in the October 2011 (Vol. 25 No.8) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members,Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.