By William Bezanson
Prayer works, but for a different reason than most of us believe.
Yes, it does work. But not optimally.
There are many forms and definitions of prayer, spread through all organized religions. A great many people believe in the power of prayer. But very little teaching is done on how to pray with true effectiveness.
Most people would define prayer as appealing to a deity for some intervention, such as healing a sick person. Many of us believe what our religious institutions taught us, and what we learned as children. Pray to God or Allah or some deity for a specific person or cause, and He will grant your wish. Such prayer can be made more effective, for example, as the Christian church teaches, if we invoke the intervention of an intermediary such as Jesus the Christ, who is reported to have claimed that any prayers directed through him will be fulfilled. Other intermediaries can be the Virgin Mary, various saints, and so on.
By these conventional means, our prayers request that a miracle be performed, such as curing a person's sickness, or assuring the success of a venture, or enabling a hockey team to win a game. When you think carefully about it, a miracle is the spontaneous, temporary, and localized suspension of the laws of nature. Thus, by means of a miracle, the biological laws of nature are to be overturned momentarily so that the sick person recovers; the law of gravity or strength of materials or whatever is to be suspended for a specific venture so that it succeeds against all odds; and your favourite, struggling, hockey team, against all analytical predictions, wins their championship match. Most other sick people die, many ventures fail, and many teams lose, all because they were not prayed for.
Do you see how irrational it is to pray for a miracle? Miracles simply don't happen! The laws of Nature persist unerringly and impersonally, and they will not change because someone prays for them to change.
And yet, such miracles do seem to happen. What's going on here?
Effective prayer involves recognizing that God is the impersonal energy underlying—or equivalent to—Nature, which is the sum total of all physical and spiritual laws, and then directing that energy through yourself to the object of your prayer. It is not God that does the healing or that influences a venture to be successful or that makes a team win its game. It is you who accomplishes those things, with the assistance of the natural energies of the universe.
The mechanism whereby you accomplish such manifestations is essentially a form of spiritual alchemy. I introduced a view of alchemy in my blog article at this website. It will be elaborated in my next blog article, “How to pray”, to be posted next month. That article will continue from this one, and explain how to achieve truly effective prayer.
The reason that prayer works, even if you are not using the alchemical technique, is that with the proper attitude in prayer you actually are using that technique, but unconsciously. You can make the prayer more effective by using it consciously, as will be explained in my next article.
William Bezanson is a retired engineer who has turned into an author. His most recent book is Abandoned Shopping Carts: Personal and Spiritual Responsibility, from which this article has been adapted. He is currently writing a book I Believe: A Rosicrucian Looks at Christianity and Spirituality. He lives with his wife in Ottawa, Canada. To learn about his books, visit his website.