Finding Strength in Adversity

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In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”    Isaiah 30:15 

Everyone has moments of uncertainty, of trial, of self doubt, and even despair. In these moments we seek help from all kinds of sources: books, counselors, ministers, doctors, friends, or family members. Any one of these may pass on some level of assurance that things are going to work out, that harmony will be restored in our body or in our affairs. With this bit of assurance, we rest a little better, regain some of our optimism, and turn our attention to more creative endeavors.

  It is a freeing thought to realize that the strength we seem to draw from others is really a process of opening our minds to our own deeper resource. In consciously returning to this inner resource we find the salvation we seek. In quietness and trust in this larger context of life, the flame of new strength is kindled.

When we are consumed with a problem, we have simply relegated our attention to one miniscule aspect of our being. Our entire universe revolves around our little problem. We weigh everything against it, including our ability to be happy and productive with our life.

There is nothing that can sever your connection with your unsounded essence, that limitless source of energy and inspiration that will lift you out of even the apparently tightest corners. Regardless of how far you feel you have strayed from your Source, it is still present and will still flood your being with the strength and assurance you need to move beyond this current stretch of uncertainty.

Begin now to take the healing advice found in Isaiah’s words. Feel the “rest” of letting go your frantic search for answers. Be still and trust that the answers you need are now forthcoming. Turn from the apparent adversity and let new strength and courage arise from the core of your being.

All that you seek is always with you. Embrace it now, in the quiet.

The Prospering Prayer

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As we have seen, prayer is a two-fold activity. There is a releasing and affirming aspect. The seed lets go of its seed identity (release) before it grows (affirms) into the plant. When we pray, we become willing to release the energy we are giving to one thing – usually a negative appearance – so we may fully pour it into another.

The prospering prayer is a prayer intended to free us from some restriction. For the seed, prosperity is the shedding of the seed-self so that further growth and fruition may occur. We are following this same principle of expansion that we see in operation throughout the natural world.

Think about this. You desire greater freedom because at the spiritual level you are already free. Conditions that restrict the soul’s natural expression, whether they are financial, health-related, or grounded in our self-perception, are really pockets of energy that must be broken up and released. When we understand this, we can focus our prayer work in the most effective direction. This rarely has to do with the actual condition. The condition is simply calling our attention to the area in need of work.

Remember that Jesus said whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. Believing you have received changes the way you utilize your energy. Believing you have not received sets up a negative charge. Believing you have received sets up a positive charge. You may say, “Trying to believe I have received something I don’t have is a lie. How can I believe a lie?” We are dealing with spiritual principle here. The material thing or condition is the effect you are after. Prayer sets up the cause that produces the desired effect, or something better.

Pay attention to the negative energy you are giving to your situation. Make a conscious effort to release this. Affirm the truth, the greater freedom that you want to experience. That is, allow yourself to experience this freedom. How would I feel if this issue was resolved? Let yourself experience the joy and freedom associated with your answer. Hold to this and take any action you’re prompted to take until your desired condition becomes your reality.       

The Prayer of Love

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Love has been called, the great attractor, and for good reason. We are all drawn to loving acts and words of our friends and family, and to the unconditional acceptance of our pets. Love nurtures us, assures us, comforts us in our strongest moments, and in our times of uncertainty. This is, no doubt, why John concluded that God is love, the most desirable, all-encompassing quality that we can experience.

  Yet love is not only a great attractor, it is also a great dissolver. Love draws greater good, but it also dissolves attitudes, perceptions, relationships and conditions that keep more favorable situations from developing in our lives.

Sometimes we are not aware of the things that need to dissolve, and so we cling to them as if their dissolution is a threat to our well-being. The prayer of love is a conscious recognition and willingness to let love enhance our strengths and dissolve our weaknesses. Are we prepared to allow love to dissolve a weakness, even when we consider it a strength? Fear, often interpreted as a signal that it’s time to fight, can also be seen as a signal that it’s time to move beyond some self-defeating aspect of our self-image.

Love may appear to be a double-edged sword that can heal or wound. But when love is left to do its perfect work, the results are always in our favor. Love clears the way for us to move past self-restricting attitudes or behaviors that keep us struggling in the constraints of limitation.  

Affirm, Divine Love is doing Its perfect work in me now. Feel God as a loving, guiding, comforting presence. Open your mind and heart to possibilities of growth in every area of your being, conscious and unconscious. See love pouring into every aspect of your life, to balance, heal, harmonize and dissolve those things that stand in the way of your greater good. Love is working on your behalf, so surrender to love’s perfect work in absolute trust that those things which fall away need to do so, and those new, inspired ideas that come to you have done so by divine appointment.

The Prayer of Purpose

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One of our fundamental teachings is that God is the source of our supply. We may think of God as owning a great warehouse full of goods and when orders are put in, they’re fulfilled and sent out. There are times, of course, when it seems as if our request has been placed on back order, or that our credit has been compromised.

Jesus said that God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. God does not actually give us things. God gives us ideas and inspiration. We have the wonderful ability to open our minds to the very essence of God, to be filled with the life, love, power and intelligence that bring about all we see and all we do not see. We have a beautiful faculty of imagination that enables us to envision specific things and conditions that are appealing to us. We can tap into the energy of zeal that enables us to do the things necessary to bring about the life we envision. We have the ability to love what we do and create blessings that touch the lives of others.

The prayer of purpose is the one that sees clearly a desired objective, that releases the negative doubts and fears that stand in our way, that stimulates the faith to hold fast and to move forward when we are called to act in ways that further our heart-felt aspirations.

George Eliot made the great observation that God “could not make Antonio Stradivarius’s violins without Antonio.” God cannot make the world you know is possible without you to bring it forth. Think of yourself as the translator of the unseen to the visible. The life you desire is not a thing that is either given or withheld but a thing you agree to help produce.

The prayer that prospers is one that affirms that which you desire is yours now and your acceptance of this truth opens the mental and emotional doors through which your good may come. Do not be discouraged if the manifestation seems slow. Hold fast to your desire, be willing to work and live with the peace of knowing your good is coming forth now!   

The Power of Silence

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It seems counter-intuitive to associate power with silence, especially when we acknowledge that it is the squeaking wheel that usually gets the grease. In the world of circumstance, there are times when squeaking is called for. The development of our spiritual awareness, however, is done in silence. “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalms 46:10) is a powerful acknowledgement of this truth from the Psalmist.

From this perspective, the only way to know God firsthand is through our intuitive faculty. This Creative Life Force that is the source of our being is always present, but works in silence as a hidden, ever-sustaining fountain of living energy. The intellect can grasp the logic that this is so but it is the intuitive faculty that makes it tangible. The intellect throws many hurdles in our way, mental images of God that distract us from direct knowing. Coming to experience and know God requires discipline and a commitment to moving into a deeper, more satisfying relationship with our Creator/Sustainer.

Find a time when you will not be disturbed, a time dedicated to seeking your experience with God. You may read some inspirational material to bring your purpose into focus. Start with short periods and let these naturally increase as you begin to see the benefits of this quiet time. Emilie Cady writes of the receptive attitude as the fowl bathing in the sun. There is no action on our part, just a receptive knowing that the living light that is God is rising into our awareness. We relax the body and keep the mind centered. If we have a favorite affirmation, we may find it helpful to quietly speak it when our thoughts drift. Never try to force anything.

Do not become discouraged if nothing seems to happen. Often the fruit of this exercise comes in unexpected moments. You may feel a deep sense of peace and joy sweep over you during the day. You may feel an unconditional love for life, or a deep feeling of compassion for another with no provocation. You are opening the intuitive door, and through this door the light of God will begin to shine in ways you are not looking for.

A Matter of Choice

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“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad” (Matthew 13:47-48).

For me it rings true that choice plays a major role in the quality our life takes on. Some will say, “No, it’s our thinking that influences our life.” Yes, this is true. But each thought we think is a choice. People and circumstances may influence our thought, but we have to agree to allow this to happen before it can.

I think this is the point Jesus is making with his parable of the dragnet. The fishermen catch a variety of fish then make the choice to keep what they want and discard the rest. Think of this as the principle involved in prayer. We release the energy of negativity and affirm what is true at the level of the absolute. A healing prayer: I now release the appearance that is illness is real and I fully embrace the truth that God is my unfailing source of wholeness. A prospering prayer: I now release this appearance of lack for I know God is my unfailing source of abundance.

By making such statements from a level of conviction, we are releasing the bad fish and keeping the good fish in the vessel of our mind. We are making a conscious choice to let God’s greater good unfold through us. Should we choose instead to let our thoughts be controlled by negative appearances, we are making a choice to keep fish we do not want.    

How we think of God, how we think of ourselves and how we envision our relationship to God sets our standard of choice. If we see God as the ever-present source of life, love, power and intelligence and we see ourselves as a complete expression of God in a relationship of oneness with God that cannot be broken, then our prayers are charged with a power that will move mountains.  

Paul suggested that we pray without ceasing. Jesus provided a mechanism that helps us become conscious of how we are praying. Do we really want the fish we’re keeping? This truly is a matter of choice.

Striking At The Root

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In his first publication, Modern Thought, Charles Fillmore pointed out that they would “… sympathize with reform movements of every kind, …  but it is not our province to become identified with them all, nor to give them a hearing in these columns.”

This position was maintained by the Unity Movement until recent times. Today, under the guise of spiritual social action, many leaders in Unity have taken a definitive turn toward social activism. As an institution devoted to teaching spiritual principles, Independent Unity will not follow this trend. Our sole purpose is to provide the teachings and environment that encourage the spiritual awakening of the individual.  

How is this different from advocating so-called spiritual social action, and why is it important to make such a distinction? Jesus advised rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. While he does not present this as an either/or proposition, he does make a clear distinction between social responsibilities and spiritual interests. And for good reason.

Social issues become politically charged because they center around the underlying question of how government should be used. Should government give the man a fish, for example, or should it encourage him to learn to fish? If we are to maintain a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” then this is indeed a very important question, but one that clearly falls under Caesar’s domain. Contrary to the belief of some, the study of spiritual principles—God’s domain—does not provide a definitive answer to this question. Here’s why.  

The principles involved in the spiritual awakening do not pertain to how the fish is acquired. Coming to know oneself at the soul level, that is, finding one’s spiritual center of power, involves spending time alone, in quiet, letting go of all external distractions. This process has absolutely nothing to do with attempting to strike a balance in real or perceived social inequalities.

A ministry focused on the spiritual awakening of the individual is not denying the social aspects or political concerns of the human experience. It is, in fact, representing the highest possible solution to social ills. Many so-called social-justice warriors have clearly lost their center of power. They need a cause, any cause, to feel whole. The moment they’re done marching for one, they jump on another. Thoreau recognized the type.

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.”

The best leaders are those who have discovered their true spiritual center of power. These strike at the root by bringing the highest level of mental, emotional and spiritual sanity to any given issue. These are the ones that will find Independent Unity attractive.