I am a sixties and seventies sort of gal, and one of the songs that always touched my heart was sung by Dionne Warwick, “I Say a Little Prayer for You.” It's a sweet song about holding someone in your heart as you go through the day. I believe in prayer in all its forms. And there certainly are many them!
A few years ago, I spoke about prayer with my friend and mentor, Sylvia Boorstein. I asked her if there was one best way to pray. She reminded me that every time we turn ourselves toward the Sacred we are engaged in prayer. This is also what she said to me: "Whatever particular meditation practice we do, we are ardently hoping, indeed praying, for a peaceful and compassionate heart, for our own well-being and for the well -being of others. The very act of stopping to reorient ourselves—which is central to all meditation and prayer practices—and to focus our intention for the good, is a prayer."
I know this to be true. Yet, sometimes I feel the need for petitionary prayer, a real asking for guidance or assistance, or for help shifting my energy when I am out-of-sorts. Do you do this? What's so puzzling to me is that if we believe wholeheartedly in prayer and know that it works, how is it we forget to do it? I call this forgetting phenomenon “spiritual amnesia.”
Often, when I converse with someone in a spiritual guidance situation, and we're discussing a pressing issue in his or her life, I'll ask if they've taken it to prayer. Nine times out of ten, they'll pause and say, "I guess I forgot all about that." I understand, because I do, too.
Sometimes prayer is the only thing that we can do. It is our singular course of action when we are in a difficult situation, or when we've received bad news. Sometimes the best thing I can do at times like these is to surrender to life as it is and say, "Help me."
Who am I asking for help? I'm not always sure. More often than not it's God as I understand It. Or a wise, enlightened being—someone who is "God" personified. (Mary, Jesus, the Buddha—even the spirit of a deceased loved one.) I pray to align myself with divine wisdom, with the Universal Heart. These personifications are, for me, representations of living in perfect alignment, with Love, with all that is right and true. Though at other times when I pray, I am aware of trying to connect with my sacred self (my wiser self) to re-ignite my inner spark of knowing, especially when it's grown dim.
Today, I'm singing and praying right along with Dionne Warwick, offering a little prayer for you, for me, for all of us.
©2016, Janice L. Lundy
Excerpted from my newest book:
"Thank You" Is My Prayer: Reflections, Prayers and Blessings For a Grateful Heart
A one-of-a-kind collection of original blessings, poems, affirmations and reflective essays to help you hold onto your grateful heart—even when times are difficult.
Learn more and read excerpts here.
Vigilance, faithfulness, to one’s practice is important on the spiritual path. As Joan Gattuso reminds us, “Without spiritual discipline we are never going to wake up or advance on our journey through this life.” It’s true, if we are not alert, our spiritual practice can become shoddy and prone to excuses. Spiritual laziness is a real danger. It is good to be watchful for these tendencies.
On the other hand, we can also place too much pressure on ourself to get our practice exactly right. Unconsciously we may strive to become the perfect pray-er, meditator, devotee, or disciple. Our practice can actually become a source of pressure and angst because we have burdened it and ourself with unhealthy “shoulds” and expectations. We live in a culture that focuses on human perfection, and sometimes, mistakenly, we link the quality and frequency of our practice to some sort of divine reward system.
Wisdom resides in walking a middle path. We keep our eyes on the goal of practice (self-realization, God-realization), yet at the same time, we treat ourself kindly and gently. Spiritual progress is not about achievement but about accessing more gentle places within us. Quiet places where we can hear our own compassionate voice saying, “Rest”; where we hear a divine voice whisper, “Welcome home.” “Progress not perfection,” is a wise mantra to keep.
You can learn more about and read excerpts from this transformative spiritual formation book here. Available in our online store.
If you were raised in the Christian tradition, you are familiar with Lent. And depending on your family of origin, perhaps you honored Lent in a particular way.
The German mystic, Meister Eckhart, wrote,
“If the only prayer you ever offer is
‘Thank you,’ that will suffice.”
So often our prayers are supplications.
We ask Spirit for things, people, opportunities.
Our needs naturally bring us to the act of prayer.
Yet, prayers of gratitude, of thankfulness, are important acts
that deepen the connection between ourselves and Spirit.
To offer a heartfelt, “Thank you, God!”
delivers us to the realm of unseen abundance.
We view life as blessed and fruitful instead of scarce;
we begin to live from a place of fullness in our lives.
We are and have enough.
From "Thank You" Is My Prayer: Reflections, Prayers and Blessings for a Grateful Heart
This was the topic of a recent morning message (sermon) I delivered at the Unity Center for Spiritual Growth in Ada, MI. They were kind enough to record the service, including my talk, and I am happy to share it with you here.
The title, "Who Do You Think You Are?" speaks to the nature of our true identity and if we are in touch with that or not. As "divine-humans" we have an obligation, I believe, to uncover all the virtues of the spirit that reside within us—often hidden—and bring them to the light of day. We do this for self-knowledge, which leads to God realization, which contributes to the beauty and well-being of the world.
I invite you to listen in.
You will hear the Guided Meditation, "My True Identity Is Spirit" at the 26.14 mark.
And the sermon at the 31.36 mark
Enjoy and be blessed!
It’s been said thousands of times before, hundreds of books written on it— a cluttered desk, office, or house creates inner turmoil. It’s true. I know it is for me. I cannot write (even a column like this) if there is disarray around me. It is as if my mind picks up the exterior mess and dumps it back inside creating an inner landfill.
Before you begin your workday, clear and organize your desk as best you can. Even if what’s there is in piles, that’s better than loose-leaf papers strewn all over. Organize the desktop on your computer. A monitor screen cluttered with documents can set the mind awhirl. By taking a few moments each day to stay organized, you set the stage for clearer thinking. The calmer you are the clearer your mind will be. That’s a fact.
As "working people" with multiple roles and responsibilities, it is up to us to be as calm as possible—and to access it as often as we can throughout the day. Our homes and businesses need us to be “grounded” and clear thinking. Their success depends on our ability to be present, not scattered; effective, not exhausted.
Know what simple activities plant you back in your calm center—then do them! Step away if you need to. Take a music break. Go outside and breathe in Mother Nature. Walk on your lunch hour. Your inner peace quotient is up to you. It will rise and fall with every choice you make.
I once asked Jungian analyst and author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in an interview what wisdom was. Her answer? “Wisdom is what works.” I was taken aback by the simplicity of her response, but I knew what she said was true. Wisdom—especially women’s wisdom—is sourced in the practical. It is what we know works, especially what we can and should do to keep things running smoothly—and to take care of ourselves in the process.
Today, begin to take the first steps toward bringing a greater sense of calm into your workday. When you do, I guarantee you will feel your clarity return. And out of that clear-mindedness, your wisdom will rise and make itself known to you. Life will begin to look and feel different, even behind a desk or in the boardroom.
Calm, clear, wise—that’s the magic formula for a successful business and a stellar life.
Need assistance staying calm wherever you are? This can help.
52 unique and original practices to help you access that
pool of peace within you.
Learn more here.
Part 1 of a 2 part series on being at peace
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
Continue the conversation with me and others on my Facebook page.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.