Friday, March 18, 2011

Does Prayer Work?

When I was in high school, my girlfriend got cancer. My church prayed for her, but she died anyway. I was too frightened to go into the funeral home and sat out in the car sobbing. Around the same time my parents had serious marital problems, and again my church prayed. My mom still left and we didn’t know where she was for seven years.

I concluded that prayer doesn’t work. Even when it seemed to work it was unfair, for why would God heal one person and let the next die? I didn’t trust God at all. I felt that way for the next 30 years, and didn’t waste my time praying for others. I did affirmations for myself, but simply didn’t trust that prayers would help anyone else.

Two years ago I learned a different way to pray. A Course in Miracles says that to see anyone as sick doesn’t help either him or you. The way to pray is to hold the truth about the person, regardless of physical appearances—the truth that each one of us is whole, safe in the arms of God, and completely capable of choosing God’s love and peace in every moment. Our tendency is to feel sorry for someone who is suffering, however, if we feel sorry for him, we are denying his ability to heal himself and recognize his true nature.

To believe that a Son of God can be sick is to believe that part of God can suffer. Love cannot suffer. Do not side with sickness in the presence of a Son of God even if he believes in it, for your acceptance of God in him acknowledges the Love of God he has forgotten. Your recognition of him as part of God reminds him of the truth about himself, which he is denying (T-10.III.3:1-2; 4-5).

Even though I’d been praying this new way for the past two years, I still wasn’t sure it was helpful until a few weeks ago. Last year I gave a talk and a woman signed up for my newsletter. She later emailed me with a request for prayers. Her husband, who had been an emergency room physician and an avid cyclist, bicycling five to six thousand miles a year, had been paralyzed in a bike accident. I sent out a prayer request to a number of friends, the couple was put on my church prayer list, and I continued to hold them in the light.

I gave another workshop at that same place, and they arrived with the husband in a wheelchair, attended by a nurse. The woman introduced herself to me and said she came specifically to thank me for the prayers, as she said that was one of the things that got them through. I was moved to tears, and am tearfully grateful as I write this. The husband touched me profoundly when he said that people think their prayers don’t help because he’s still in a wheelchair. However, they keep his attitude positive, so they are helping. Here is a couple who could easily be bitter and dejected, yet they came to share love with me and tell me that prayer—love—works.

This is one of the most significant gifts I have ever received. It gives me hope. It tells me that the Course is true when it says that minds are joined, and all that I give is given to myself (T-18.VI.3:1; W-p.I.126.h). When we pray that another person knows himself as part of God, knows himself as healed and whole, we are receiving that same gift of truth.

Right now, would you please take a moment to send a prayer to this wonderful couple? He may or may not ever walk again, but he is not his body and he is already whole in the Mind of God. It is the mind that needs to be healed—the body is simply an instrument for communication at this earthly level. We can communicate either love or fear, as we choose. They chose to share their love with me and I am eternally grateful.

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