The subject of prayer is one near and dear to my heart—as well it may and should be to all. How do you pray and why. Have you ever stopped to consider why you pray the way you do? I would suggest that literally everyone who prays has been preconditioned to pray a certain way and that most of those prayers are of contrition and petition—many, of course, make a swipe at thanksgiving.
Having said that, lets examine the basis for our prayers. The contrition part befits us all—definitely we all are sinners (selfish). Quite obviously we all have much to be thankful for—our life, our sustenance and hopefully out salvation. But what about prayers of petition—why do we feel a justifiable need or right to beg God for anything? The only reason I can see is the basic idea of dualism.
Those Old Testament Christians who still believe that God created his universe and then continually lords over it could be called dualist—that is they believe God is here watching over his creation which is over there. In other words, they see God as directly micromanaging every tiny aspect of their lives. If they do something wrong, he sees it and will certainly inflict punishment if that wrong is not addressed properly. Additionally, they see God as being able and possibly willing to make something happen just for them if begged long and hard enough—they not only believe in miracles but rather expect them. They believe God can change the course of events with the snap of his fingers. That’s what the Old Testament God was like. So they feel not only allowed but obliged to beg God to change his mind.
So dualism originated in the mythological thinking of the ancients and it persist today. There may be some non-dualist religions but I not aware of any—not at least in Christianity. I think that likely the Hindus and Buddhists were for the most part nondualists.
There have been and still are many, many individual philosophers who have recognized the presence of God in everything. They are able to see God’s perfection (Spirit, Will, Love) in all living and inanimate existences. Jesus the Christ (light of the world) was the first Christian to see that clearly. He attempted to indoctrinate his followers to that good news (gospel) before they killed him. The recorded writings are so corrupt and distorted as to make it impossible to know. There are many hints in Paul’s writings—several in both John’s Gospel and Epistle. Personally, I have discovered the most straightforward assertions in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. Jesus keeps saying over and over in different words and examples the same message—I am in everything and everything is in me. He told them ‘the kingdom of God is spread out all over the earth and you don’t see it’. He made that remark in response to their continued query about when he was going to ‘restore the kingdom’.
Saint Francis of Assisi was a firm believer in a nondualist existence. The Franciscan philosophy has always affirmed that belief. It is a ‘miracle’ that the Catholic Church has not excommunicated them, because it certainly professes a dualist attitude and understanding about God—almost all ‘Catholic’ prayers are prayers of ‘petition’—that is begging God to ‘change’ something or somebody, or some state of existence. As a child raised as a devout Catholic, I spent hours and hours on my knees begging God directly and through the saints in heaven to make things happen. I was not once able to detect any direct answer to my imploring—likewise not once could I detect any answer to our entire parish begging and pleading with God to make something happen. I was told by my priest that it was God’s will. I was eleven to twelve years old at the time—old enough to reason that if that were the case, it was obvious that God’s will could not be influenced. That recognition prompted me to embark on ‘A Journey of Understand’.
That journey forced me ‘out of the box’ in my thinking—something was dreadfully wrong and I was determined to find out. That determination rapidly led to my conclusion that no one really knew who God was—God was just an imaginary entity dreamed up right out of the Jew’s playbook. I was dismayed to learn that no one had ever defined the essence of God—without an essential definition, God is ‘pure fiction’. After years of intense study and contemplation, but more importantly after my study of Quantum Mechanics (particle physics), the understanding of God’s essence became clear— God is a Perfect Rational being—what a revolutionary understanding!
That insight opened windows to an entirely new world—-it explained everything—it eliminated all mystery. My God was Perfect in every respect—He knew everything, That knowledge gave him all power. That perfection extended to his Perfect Love—meaning he accepts (loves, wills) everything his perfect intellect perceived (the Holy Spirit—Will of God). More importantly, that understanding of God’s perfect love means he cannot possibly reject any part of his creation—Hell is an impossibility. Furthermore his perfection means that ‘change of any type’ is impossible—God cannot possibly chance his nature. Therefore physical miracles are impossible.
With that understanding, it becomes obvious that prayers of petition are not only evidence of lack of understanding God’s essence (nature), but in addition a total waste of time.
What about prayers of contrition? I would venture to say that God does not ‘expect’ them—perfect love means acceptance without condition—God accepts (loves) everyone and everything equally. The only value I see in prayers of Contrition is that they may help us to be more loving of both our God and our neighbors. They certainly are not necessary.
So, is there any ‘justifiable’ prayer? I think prayers of thanksgiving , while not necessary nor demanded by God, they are, in fact justified. How then should we pray? I believe thusly; ‘Thank you dear Lord God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit (Will of God) for my existence, for my sustenance, and for my salvation through Jesus. Amen.
I have developed and expanded this philosophy extensively in my two books, Wilderness Cry and Peace in Spirituality—both published by Covenant Books. I should also note that Wilderness Cry has been selected as ‘Book of the Month’, by the Online Book Club for the coming month of December. They have one million members and only showcase twelve books each year—0ne each month.
Press release and video trailer for each attached.