Does praying for something actually push it away from us? This terrifying question taunted me as I listened to Neale Donald Walsh’s “Conversations With God.” I’ve been praying my whole life. Whether it was a prayer I’ve been given as a child or my own melodramatic pleas, I consider my prayer relationship pretty strong. But (and picture a bolt of lightening and ominous thunder) I suddenly realized My prayers usually consist of me ASKING God for something.
“What’s wrong with that?” You may ask. “I ask God for things all the time. The health of my family. A flashy new car. Less cellulite on my fat upper thighs.” And that’s cool, except for the fact that the act of asking is a statement that it is not there.
“Uhhhhh. It’s NOT there. Have you seen my thighs? I haven’t worn shorts in five years.”
OK. Trust me, my thighs have cellulite, too. But stay with me on this one. I’m going to quote directly so I don’t mess it up. “You will not have that for which you ask, nor can you have anything you want.”
Before you start storming around your apartment screaming “F that! What’s the point then?” Put down the shoe you want to throw at me and listen (ahem read.) The above statement IS true because your very request is a statement of lack. And God grants EVERY request. He’s all powerful remember? By saying you WANT something, you produce that exact experience… WANTING. God gave us free will. And he loves giving us our will. He STILL can’t figure out why all we keep doing is wanting, but wanting he lets us experience.
“So should I not pray, then?” No! But we need to adjust our prayer to one of GRATITUDE. By saying thank you to God in advance for what you choose to experience, you acknowledge that it is already there. And that with God, anything is possible. So when praying, never supplicate. (The creative writer in me got bored saying ask.) Only appreciate.
And this is where things get particularly tricky for me. I love meditating on gratitude. I write five things I’m grateful for every night before I go to bed. But still I’m like, “Come on, God. You can do it. Just give me ONE co-star role to get me going. JUST ONE.” So I affirm it’s not there, and ten years in Hollywood later, it’s STILL not there. And you can’t just say “Thank you God for my co-star role” every night before bed. Because unfortunately, just like the fat on my thighs can’t be manipulated into thinking chocolate is broccoli, God and the universe can’t be manipulated by false gratitude. You cannot lie to God any more than OJ Simpson can pass a lie detector test. What’s more, you can’t lie to yourself. You’re saying thank you for something all the while KNOWING it’s not there.
This is why people constantly say affirmations are dumb New Agey crap that don’t work. Or people say God is cruel and never answers their prayers. Because every thought, feeling, and prayer is creative. You get what you expect. And if you expect God not to answer, well, he gives you what you want. And if you expect affirmations not to work, they won’t. Think about this: Do you REALLY want to believe in a God that says yes to some prayers and no to others? No! I had enough of that rushing for sororities in college. I choose a God who says yes and supports us all. So. How can we be truly grateful for what we believe to not be there?
We all (me especially) have to work on faith. Jesus didn’t walk on water saying, “This is impossible. I’m going to drown.” Buddha didn’t reach enlightenment saying, “I can’t go more than one minute meditating without thinking about what I’m having for dinner.” So how do I think I’m going to book a co-star telling myself it’ll never happen unless I seriously reconsider sleeping with a producer? One Bible quote I love is, “If you have but the faith of a mustard seed you shall move mountains.” We come to know it is there (or can be) because God has told us that even before you have asked He has answered.
So instead of just quoting Bible verses or inspirational memes on Instagram to make us feel better for one moment, the real work is actually BELIEVING it. How many times have we heard that God is all loving, all powerful, all forgiving, and that through Him all things are possible? But how many of us REALLY believe it? Probably about five. Mindlessly droning the correct response at church when we’re really thinking about last night’s gossip doesn’t count. (And I’m nkt judging you because that was ME.) We must dig deeper. We must get to know God. And as Neale Donald Walsh writes, “You cannot know God until you stop thinking you ALREADY know God.” We are always learning. We are never finished. There’s always more to stretch and expand to. I highly recommend buying this book or listening on audio. There are a lot concepts that stretch my mind to question what I already think I know. Today I’m working on expanding my faith. Especially since I’m jobless at present. And this year I WILL have a co-star. (If any of you want to affirm that with me I need all the help I can get 😜) Thank you, God!
And so it is.