May 11, 2008

Prayer as an act of giving

In religious life, all that we do has the meaning of an offering to the Creator. Prayer is one of the most important offerings we can make. What is the significance of offerings and how should offerings to God be made in the right way?

The word ‘offering’ is an official word for giving. Offering is nothing else than giving. It is through giving to a person that we build up a good relationship. It is no different in our relationship to God. God gives to us and when we give back to God, we can build up a good relationship.

Prayer needs to be a giving act, not a taking one. Just like people sometimes try to build relations with other people by asking or taking, so we could also mistakenly try to get from God rather than to give. In a normal and fruitful relationship, both individuals will try to give to each other. It is not different in our relationship to God. When someone prays and all the time only wants to get something, for example by only asking for blessings, then a normal relationship cannot develop.

There are certain rules for giving between people. Usually these rules are not made so conscious, but they nevertheless are commonly applied. Similar rules or principles exist for giving to God.

One principle of giving is that you want to give something good and clean. When you receive a present but there is something bad attached to it, you won’t like it very much. For example, if someone offers you a meal and there is something in it that makes you sick, then you won’t appreciate it very much and this has consequences for your relationship with the one who gave it.

Sometimes people give something in order to get. For example, the world of advertisement on the internet often works like that. You can receive many programs online ‘for free’ but the free gift is not really free. Many smart methods are applied so you eventually will spend money on a product you sometimes did not really need or want.

When we pray, we do not only offer our prayer to God. Through the offering we offer ourselves to God. What you really want to reach through prayer is that you build up a relationship with God. The offering, in this case a prayer, always is something intermediate. The offering stands between God and you. In reality what you offer is yourself.

This means that when you offer a prayer to God, you yourself need to be clean. Clean in this case means that you firstly are clean in mind and spirit. When your thoughts would be full of hatred, you can hardly expect that God could like your prayer. Even if the words of your prayer sound sweet, through the words you also offer what is in your spirit and with hatred or egoism you will not deepen the relationship with God.

It also implies that our prayers are not independent from how we live. When someone does what he or she likes during the day and then tries to pray in the evening, the prayer at best can become one of repentance. Repentance has only value when it is really meant. When someone lives each day like this, doing what he or she knows is not so good, then prayer becomes very hypocrite and as a result your entire personally might become like that.

We can offer promises or pledges to God, to change our life, or to do something what we know is right to do. Also such a promise or pledge needs to be pure and sincere. Another way of expressing this is to say that the offering needs to be split. Whatever you offer, you need to only offer what is good and not what is stained. When you give a promise and your mind is not entirely serious about it, it means that something unclean entered your mind and therefore also your offering of prayer. Then it is better to first work on yourself, to question yourself whether you really mean what you say, and only offer the prayer and pledge after you did this. To help you cleanse your mind, you can pray and ask the Creator to show you how.

When you bring an offering, what you offer in deepest essence is your love. Also in prayer, your love for God is more essential than anything else. Prayers that are superficial or only ritual have little meaning. When you pray and you can feel deep love for God, that is when your prayers gain the highest value.

It is like when you speak to another person, or you write someone a letter, you can do it as an empty habit, not putting much of your heart into it, or you can make effort to really feel and express personal love. This makes a world of difference to the receiver. When you pray to God, God is the recipient of your prayer and there are no prayers so wonderful as those in which you manage to move God’s heart.

May 8, 2008

And when you get answer from God…

Prayer to God is to open yourself to God and for all that comes from God.

Prayer is to put yourself in connection to the Creator and to put yourself in the right position in relation to God. The position we take is that of the created one, the one loved by God, the one who is willing to do God’s will.

When you pray, you should forget all your knowledge, all that you ever learned. When God speaks to you, what is the value of what you know in relation to God who knows all?

To pray is to want to give up all preconceived ideas, because God will renew your mind, clear it up and bring light in the darkest corners of your being.

Imagine this: God is the greatest being of the universe. Compared to God, the mightiest kings and the most noble saints and the smartest scientists are all little children. You can meet God! How wonderful and great this is. When we realize the meaning of prayer, the significance of meeting God, it can make us filled with marvel and awe, with deepest desire of love, with stillness and gratitude.

God created this universe and knows all the principles. God knows every single person and knows all that you ever experienced. God knows your destination and future and will tell you what to do in life. God will also help you with what may seem for you the smallest questions and problems, simple things like what you should eat today and how you should fill your day or where and if you should go on vacation, whom you should meet or not meet. God will tell it all if you only bother to ask and are prepared to listen.

God wants to be very close to you because God loves you more than you could ever love yourself and God wants to be with you and experience life through you, feel your joy and your sadness, share in your excitement and hope.

When you have been still and waiting for God’s answer and then you receive answer, in some way or another, in the form of a conviction coming up in you, a strong feeling for what you have to do, or you hear God’s voice in yourself, not outside from yourself, but always in you, then there is only one thing to do…

Then you received Truth, you got sure guidance. It compares to nothing else what you may have thought. All what you knew may at best be truth, but what God tells you is TRUTH. This is the absolute and clear guidance you need. This will set your life on the right course, whatever it means.

God will never ask you something that you cannot handle. So when you receive God’s direction and you feel difficult about it, know for certain that God never asks you more than you could manage. Sometimes what God tells us feels like impossible to do or to understand, but know that God will be there with you on your way, if only you keep your connection to God. God will help you through all difficulties and this is how you will grow, more quickly than you could imagine.

Do not add God’s answers to the knowledge or thoughts you already had. This is not the right place for God’s guidance. God’s answers hover over everything else in you. Don’t think about what God told you, but pray about it, that is: try to understand what God means, don’t try to give it your own interpretation.

Many people are afraid, usually unconsciously, for what God may tell them. Then they pray but at the same time they close their heart and mind. They pray for hours and days and even years in that way. They will never get answer because they are afraid for what they are going to hear. This means that they don’t trust God enough. They have feelings that God will punish them or will misuse them. God is not like that. God always wants what is the best for you and everyone around you. What God asks you is the best, even though with your human concepts you may not understand so deeply.

What God tells us is not just for the moment. It is for your best future. God’s directions may seem difficult in your present situation, but when you follow them you will see that it all will work out best. God wants you to grow in love and for this we need many life experiences. We need to go our path with God always. People around you usually will not understand. They may think you have gotten crazy to go the course you do.

When you receive God’s guidance, write it down or at least keep it alive in your mind. Do not forget it and don’t mix it with your own thoughts. Do not give it your own interpretation but pray to understand more deeply what God told you. You can ask God again and again what it meant what God told you as long as you did not cover God’s answers with your own concepts. What God tells you is LOVE. What God tells you is TRUTH.

May 6, 2008

Sacred place of prayer

One of the most important factors influencing your prayer is the place where you pray. The influence of the place, the room or space where you pray is very large but this can only be understood well from a spiritual perspective.

Of course, also the external or physical aspects of the place where you pray are important. You would rather pray in a quiet room that you decorated beautifully and in which you placed objects that bring you in the right mood than for example in a noisy hall of a train station.

Prayer is very much influenced by the location where you pray. This has most of all a spiritual reason. One place is not the other. The energies of one place are not those of another place.

I believe that many cultures of the past had much more understanding of this and therefore created sacred sites. Central on such a site could be a tree or a stone construction or a temple, or a combination of these. The meaning of a sacred site is first of all that the spiritual environment is controlled. What is more or less controlled are the energies and the spirits who have access to such a place. When you want to pray well, you best learn to make such a place for yourself.

When you pray, you direct yourself to God, but you automatically also open yourself for the spiritual reality around you. When you pray on a place that is not spiritually controlled in a good way, you can be very much disturbed by spirits who don’t like you to connect to God.

The other factor is the energies on a place or in a room. When you make effort to pray on always the same place or in the same room, and you guard that this place is being used for activities other than or too different in nature from prayer, then you will see that the feeling of concentration on that location builds up over time. Each time that you pray there, it will get easier to concentrate.

To claim a place outside or a room or part of a room for prayer may be a spiritual battle by itself. You need to change the energy of that spot and you need to guard it against invasion of spirits who might want to disturb your prayers.

Sacred places can also be related to one another, for example in some cultures many sacred trees in a country or on a continent were spiritually connected. When such trees are connected to one another, the good spiritual merit of one sacred tree location can reinforce that of other, related trees.

When you don’t yet have a good place in your own house and don’t know a sacred location outside, I would advise to pray on a quiet and beautiful place in nature. It pays off to often pray on the same spot, as the investment of your earlier prayers get energetically and spiritually stored on that place. Another possibility is to make a prayer walk, also preferably in a good and natural environment. When you make a prayer walk you don’t have the advantage of being on a prepared spiritual spot, but by walking you also cannot get so strongly influenced by what could be difficult influences on a fixed location. You just take your path where it feels good and you centre your heart and mind on God and increase your concentration during the walk.

When I make special effort to pray I usually do it in a room that I prepared for this as much as possible. I don’t let other people come in this room apart from for prayer (when it is a part of a room you can ask other people not to enter it), I place an altar (beautiful table) with flowers and natural stones or other natural objects such as shells, I paint and decorate the room with nice pictures and in pleasing colors. I keep that room clean from dust or newspapers or any kind of objects that don’t feel like enhancing the atmosphere needed for prayer. I do nothing else in that room than sacred activities.

It is possible to share such a place or room with others, provided that you know that these other people also want to pray in a deeper way.

Be aware of the fact that the sacredness of each location depends very much on what happened on that site. For example, if someone else prayed on your favourite place and he or she had a bad mood, then after this the holy atmosphere of that location needs restoration. You will have to get rid of the difficult energies that came there and sometimes the place may even have become invaded by spirits that want to harm your prayers. In that case the first prayer or prayers you have there may turn into spiritual fights in order to claim back the location.

When you have learned to pray in a stronger and deeper way and you have managed to set up or keep a prayer place sacred, you will get deep experiences in prayer. Good angels or spirits can come to you to give you revelations or inspiration and each time that you pray there for longer time, you can have deep experiences with God.

May 5, 2008

Praying in faith and concentration

When you pray, concentrate. Concentrate on God the Creator.

You can only concentrate on God when you believe that God exists. Believe that God can hear your prayer and can answer in one way or another.

When you pray in faith, your prayer will be answered.

When you pray without faith, for example when you do it out of habit or don’t really believe in God’s reality, then your prayers will be futile.

God lives in each of us, but we don’t address ourselves to God in ourselves. God lives in us, this means that God’s love and energy can be in us. It doesn’t mean that the postal address of God is within us.

In each of us is a gate to God and through that gate we can speak to God. We can do this in a very natural way, like a child would speak to the parent, or maybe, when you feel more like that, like a servant speaks to the lord.

There is a kind of prayer that doesn’t lead you to God. That kind of prayer is based on the assumption that God is only some kind of consciousness that is everywhere in the cosmos. It is true that God’s spirit dwells in the cosmos and that this is a kind of consciousness, but I perceive this aspect of God as an expression of God in the cosmos. God also is a personality with a certain character, a character of giving love. I cannot prove this because God’s existence cannot be proven. I speak from my own experience.

When you just open yourself for ‘God’ in the cosmos, then you may also open yourself for what is not God. You may get all kind of ideas that don’t come from God.

To pray to God means a concentrated effort to focus on God as a being with heart and also as a being who can answer your prayers. The movement is one of focusing, of narrowing down your attention to God. Once you feel to have more contact to God, your mind will become wide and encompassing.

When you open yourself for what you think is God just anywhere around in the cosmos, you are not focusing but making an effort in an opposite direction. After this your mind will narrow down, it will be influenced by whatever you picked up and this will then control your views on life.

It is by faith alone that we can pray and receive answers. The more faith you have in God’s existence, the more answers you will get.

All truth comes from God and we have only access to truth when we first received it from God. How would we be able to judge what is true and what is not true if there were not a standard of truth in us? The standard of truth in us comes from our direct relationship to God. When we pray much to God, we get more and more sensitive to what is true and what is not true. We can better sense the intentions behind what people say or write.

We cannot simply trust what anybody tells or teaches us. The standard for knowing is in us and it is in our close relationship with God. There is no other standard for truth.

Everyone who searches deeply within the self will find there the reality of God. We are souls created by God and whatever we may have done or believed in life, our souls still belong to God. Through the deepest of our being we are connected to God. God is in other beings too, but we cannot speak directly to God in that way.

The gate to God is in the deepest of us. This is why we need to get to know our own self, as deeply as possible. When you really know your own self, you cannot but also come to know God, because you will find the proof of the Creator’s existence within you.

May 4, 2008

Real prayers and problematic prayers

We pray to the Creator. The Creator is the Creator and there is only one Creator. There is only one God.

Even though God has received different names, there is only one God the Creator.

Created beings are not God the Creator.

When we pray, we need to pray to the real God. As obvious this seems, this is for many people the most difficult to do.

I will mention a few possibilities, of people who pray or think to pray but their prayers are superficial or altogether wrong.

It is possible and often occurring that when you pray you direct yourself to what I would call a reflection or an image of God. The problem is that you don’t really believe that God exists. Your belief in God is like a scientific hypothesis, an assumption really. You may have taken God’s existence for granted because your parents taught you this. Or you may have found God but your faith never deepened enough. In such a case you pray to God but you cannot get deeper answers to your prayer because your faith in God is weak and shallow.

The only solution to this is to make yourself aware of your lack of faith in God. God can answer your prayer when you believe in God and when you live in such a way that your faith grows.

Some people pray to themselves. They have split their own mind in two parts, a part that prays and a part that receives the prayer. It usually is a difficulty of those who think too much and who do not wish to submit themselves to a higher God. It is a problem of arrogance, of putting yourself above God and making yourself to a kind of god. For some people this disease of the mind has progressed so far that they really believe that the ‘god’ in their own mind is real. They answer their own prayers. Some of such people eventually get crazy. They may come to suffer of severe megalomania and revel in being praised and honoured by others.

Quite many people pray to spirits. Spirits are not the Creator. All spirits are created beings. We can talk to spirits and there needs to be nothing wrong with that, but don’t call such conversations prayer, because they are not. People can get revelations and inspirations from the spiritual world. These revelations can be helpful or misleading, but in any case they don’t come directly from God. There is someone in-between God and you. When you receive such revelations or inspirations, it is at best comparable to what you hear from a respected teacher. In the worst case people may have come under the influence of certain deceptive spirits, some of them who pose as if they were gods.

Ceremonial and ritualistic prayers often tend to become superficial. Though this type of prayers can have a function, in many cases the practitioners get used to praying only like this. Their prayers are mere formulas, which they learned by heart and repeat again and again. Sometimes such a prayer still has value as a form of meditation, but you cannot expect that only by praying like this you could reach God.

When prayers are written down they can serve to teach you how to pray, but they can also lure you into a too easy prayer life.

When you pray to God, your attitude is most important. You cannot tell God what to do. Sometimes people pray like this and tell God to do this and do that. How many times did I not hear someone praying to support a certain leader in the world. How can you be sure that God wants to support such a person? Maybe that person got power in a wrong way and it would be better that he lost it.

Another doubtful way of prayer is when you just keep asking God to give you what you want. Some of what you wish may be good for you, but it could also be that you pray for what God would not desire for you. When you pray such kind of prayers you cannot expect much from it. We cannot expect God to listen to or approve self-centred prayers.

Prayer is difficult to learn and hard to practice. God is present in the entire cosmos, but we need to learn to recognize God and not confuse the many beings posing as gods or people falsely claiming that God is in them with the real God.

God can come to you in prayer when you have found access to the deepest core of goodness in yourself, when you address yourself to God from your desire to be good and do good.

May 3, 2008

Prayer as breathing

Much of what applies to prayer also does to meditation. Prayer in my view is always centred on God, meditation can also be centring on something else than God.

Prayer is as necessary as breathing. This statement may need some explanation for those who seldom pray or who believe prayer is only done by religious fanatics.

Prayer is to connect ourselves to the Creator. The Creator is present in all creations, in the entire universe, but this doesn’t mean that we automatically are very well connected to God. Many people don’t believe in God. We ourselves may have done things in our lives which were egoistic and not loved by God. Everything in ourselves and around us that is more separated from God brings energy that makes it difficult to feel God’s love. In order to feel God’s love and to receive God’s guidance, we must make effort to overcome the energies, the feelings and thoughts that separate us from God.

The main effort to do this is by prayer.

Plants have a built-in programming that makes them grow, blossom, give fruit. For example, some seeds of trees will only begin to germinate when it warms up after a period of frost. This guarantees that the seeds sprout at the time that gives them the maximum chance of survival.

Animals have their instinct guiding them to do what is right. Animals don’t think about that, at least that is what I believe. They just follow their instinct and this serves them well.

People are different from animals and plants. I believe that we too have some kind of instinct in us that leads us in our daily life. We could call this instinct ‘intuition.’ Our intuition is the part of our being that is directly connected to God.

The instinct of some animals that grew up in human civilization does not work so well anymore. In a similar way, our intuition to do what is right in each situation very often does not function very well.

Why is this? I believe answering this question would rather much be the same as knowing the cause of what is called ‘evil.’ I don’t want to go into that here, but when we look around in today’s world with so much crime we can understand that not everything that people do is good and original.

I believe that our original state of being is one in which we are constantly connected to the Creator and we would know intuitively what to do in each situation. But in a world where so many people including ourselves are often misguided, we need to make extra effort to strengthen the connection to God.

The main effort to do this is in prayer. Prayer should be like breathing, because when we get so used to prayer that we do it all the time, in whatever situation we are, then we will always have a good feeling for what is right for us to do.

When you attempt to pray you will quickly notice that prayer is not so easy at all. As soon as you try to centre your mind on God, you get distracted by all kind of other thoughts. To solve this and to learn to pray we need to practice concentration. Concentration however is not the only thing we need to learn.

When our mind is full with what is not so connected to God, maybe because we have done activities which were not so close to God, then our mind also is more away from God. This means that, guided by prayer, we need to do those things that bring us nearer to God instead of doing what separates us.

When our prayer becomes as regular as breathing, we come in a constant state of heart and mind of feeling the presence of God. Then our original intuition will begin to work more and more and will properly guide us through life.

But before prayer becomes like breathing, we need to make very much effort. Prayer is something that some people do intuitively, but still it is also something that we need to learn. When we begin to pray, prayer can be very difficult to do. Because it is so difficult, many people shy away from it and pray in a superficial or ritualistic way, without really coming to deeper levels.