First of all, you should realize, of course, that prayer is telepathic. In other words, prayer is a concentration of thought which puts your mind in contact with the object of your prayer. It is not the same as meditation. The main difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer is specifically seeking an effect, while the goal of meditation may be pure understanding or the joy of contact. Also, meditation may be undirected,while prayer never is.
In prayer we are trying to do something or to get something done, either for ourselves or for someone else. We pray to get an effect, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, or physically. Since an effect is involved, energy has to be involved, and all prayer involves the transmission of energy, either toward or away from the one who prays.
Most commonly, prayer is directed toward a spiritual being, however the individual conceives that being. This is natural and proper, but unfortunately many people get discouraged because their prayers are apparently not answered. Certainly this may be partly because they have complexes or beliefs which prevent them from making contact, but the major reason is that they are not praying for the right thing.
I am not suggesting that they were praying for things they didn't need or for something that was contrary to the will of a spiritual being. The problem was that they were praying for that being to do something which it is not in its nature to do.
In the prayer form known as the Lord's Prayer that is found in the Christian Bible, Jesus states that we should ask for energy ("our daily bread"), cleansing (forgiveness), and guidance. A little further on in the chapter of Luke (11), Jesus makes the famous statement about, "Ask, and it shall be given unto you...." This has been taken to mean that you can ask God for anything you like and you will get it, although in practice it obviously doesn't work out that way. The reason is revealed only a few lines further. What is to be given is the Holy Spirit. In other words, energy, ideas, and inspiration. We find this same idea in the Old Testament, in Sufi, Hindu, and Chinese writings, as well as in Hawaiian - namely that what we receive from above is the wisdom and the power to act. But it is we who must do the acting.
This brings us to the point of fact that there are essentially two types of prayer: vertical and horizontal. By vertical prayer, I mean that which is directed toward God or the Higher Self or toward someone in spirit. From this type of prayer we can only get inspiration, knowledge, understanding, and energy. Note carefully that the guidance we may get is in the form of ideas and inspiration. We do not actually get the kind of guidance that tells us exactly what to do and how to do it. That kind of guidance implies the making of choices, and that is our sole prerogative.
Horizontal prayer is that directed toward our everyday life, either to heal or help ourselves or others, or to change the future. This type of prayer is accomplished by us, and its effectiveness is determined by our beliefs and by the amount of energy we put into it. We each create our own experience of reality, the circumstances we find ourselves in, and through prayer properly understood we can change those circumstances. But it is the individual who changes the circumstances, not God and not the High Self. From them we only get the tools; they will not do the work for us.
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