2018, a Bad Year for Prayer
Alameda in Spirit
Unity, a New Thought spiritual philosophy, observes its annual “World Day of Prayer” on Sept. 13, to counter the memory of the religious atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a bold undertaking, because like 2001, 2018 has been a bad year for prayer, particularly “our thoughts and prayers.”
In 2018, the phrase “our thoughts and prayers “ has become a widely ridiculed mantra for inaction and religious hypocrisy, as it is frequently used (after gun massacres) by insincere evangelist politicians who have taken endorsements and bribes from the gun lobby. One such politician, after a gun massacre in his state, refused to admit that common-sense gun control is needed. He claimed that the cure for gun violence was “the need to be closer to God.” With great irony, a stunned news reporter reminded him that the massacre had occurred in a church!
Likewise, the irony of so many of “our thoughts and prayers” expressed after the Sept. 11, 2001, Islamic terrorist attacks was sickening, as some of the religious extremists committing the horrific acts were reportedly praying to their god before a Washington D.C.-bound plane crashed in Pennsylvania.
Obviously, “our thoughts and prayers” will do nothing to prevent the next massacre, unless a new way of prayer is understood and practiced. This is the purpose of The World Day of Prayer.
If the Unity concept of spirituality and prayer is widely embraced, it’s highly unlikely that more gun violence or other sorts of cruelty would occur. In these belief systems, prayer is not an occasional ritual or negotiation with a dubious, mythic religious icon or imaginary deity, imploring it to take action. Instead, it’s a constant, moment-by-moment feeling of love and oneness with consciousness, the eternal, perfect, intelligent substance of all that exists.
Synonyms for consciousness are awareness itself, the absolute, principle, being, the unknowable, silence, infinite mind, spirit, life, love and God. In Unity prayer, every he, she, it or condition that exists in consciousness is unified and essentially sacred, even if believed to be good or bad. Thus, cruelty or violence done to another is also done to one’s self and to consciousness. It therefore behooves perpetrators to consider the cosmic repercussions before committing cruel acts or pulling the trigger!
Unity prayer is generally expressed as positive affirmations of spiritual truth. The most famous unity prayer is poet James Dillet Freeman’s “Prayer of Protection”:
The light of God surrounds us; the love of God enfolds us; the power of God protects us; the presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are, God is!
Meditating upon such truths is the focus of the World Day of Prayer.
The theme for this years’ celebration is “Courage To Heal — I am a healing presence.” The “Guiding Prayer” is the event’s primary meditation, and is a fine example of a new way of prayer:
Aligning my mind and heart with the mind and heart of God, I center myself in Pure Being. In a state of spiritual realization, I remember I can never be broken, limited or unworthy. As I heal in body, mind and spirit, I support healing in my family, my community, the earth and the world. Centered in Pure Being, I am a healing presence.
For atheists, a fine way to celebrate World Day of Prayer is to embrace the Humanist ideals of the basic goodness of mankind, then to practice random acts of kindness.
In doing so, 2019 might be a better year for prayer.