Is Prayer Just Intention on Spiritual Steroids?

Is Prayer Just Intention on Spiritual Steroids? January 6, 2021

Here is another nonreligious piece with a spiritual bent from Dana Horton:

Is Prayer Just Intention on Spiritual Steroids?

(5 minute read)

In ministerial school (Centers for Spiritual Living, or CSL) we were taught that there were five steps to ‘proper’ praying. This technique was a little different from the Christian tradition of pleading with asking God for what you want and hoping for the best. The CSL philosophy prays a little differently. Let’s take a quick look:

  1. Describe God. If God does not have human characteristics, we have to frame It up (gender neutral) with more universal language. This part can be short, or it can go on … and on … depending on who is praying. Some of our spiritual directors thought the longer the better. We were usually pretty short.
  2. Acknowledge the connection between God and everything else. The theological term for this is Oneness. This step continues to reinforce that God is not an old man in the sky. That’s a good thing. Length of time is also dependent on the one doing the praying. See above.
  3. The Ask. The interesting part in CSL praying is that we do not ‘ask’ for things. We affirm that what we want is already done in the mind of God. That’s not a terrible way to do things. And if the manifestations don’t happen right away, it provides a decent excuse:  It’s already done in the mind of God, just waiting for the right time.
  4. Gratitude. This step seems to be universal to all religions. The unique aspect of the CSL prayer is that it gives thanks for something as if it’s already done. That’s because it is — it’s in the mind of God, remember?
  5. Release. Also, not a bad concept. Once you’ve prayed it up, there’s no sense in stewing about it. If you truly believe that God’s got it, then why worry?

The CSL approach to prayer is pretty good, especially if your concept of God is more of an omnipresent being, rather than an old man in the sky. It is kind of like setting a strong intention for something, and then adding a spiritual presence to help it along. And even if we take the agnostic (or atheist) view of spirituality, this type of prayer can help clarify our thinking and understand ourselves better. Win/win.

Recently, researcher and author Lynne McTaggart (e.g. The Power of Eight) discussed this idea about intention setting with spiritual teacher and author Caroline Myss (e.g. Sacred Contracts). Lynne was describing how strong intentions, especially in a group setting, can be a powerful way to make a change in our lives. Lynne even described how she was surprised at the circumstantial evidence of actual physical healings that seemed to be occurring within these group settings. Caroline took it a step further (as Caroline does) and claimed that Lynne was describing prayer work, not just intention setting.

Caroline then asked Lynne why she did not want to call it prayer work. Lynne tried to convey that her studies were secular in nature, with no spiritual intention. But Caroline still insisted that this was prayer work.

The conversation unfortunately diverted into other areas of interest. But we would have appreciated a little more debate on whether there is a difference between intention setting and prayer. At what point does setting a minor intention of stopping at the grocery store convert into a major (prayerful?) intention manifesting a healing in the body? And do any of us really know the truth about these things?

Here’s the link to the discussion. It’s an hour and 15 minutes. But a pretty good use of time even if you don’t agree with either of them.

We are going to close for today. But we will take this topic up again soon. Even if we like the CSL method of praying, we don’t think God cares if we do all five of the steps. Or any of the steps. But we have begun to ponder why we suddenly stopped praying a year ago, and whether that has made any meaningful difference to our life.

Dana Horton is from Ohio, United States and has recently retired as Director of Energy Markets a large utility company. In August 2019, he earned his ministerial license through a New Thought religious organization called Centers for Spiritual Living based in Denver, Colorado. He acted as interim minister at the Columbus Center for Spiritual Living for several months afterward, where he learned a lot more about religious and spiritual organizations. At this time has no interest in returning to any formal religious structure. But he enjoys investigating spiritual principles, how they originated, and how they might be applicable to everyday living.


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