Good question, right?
I read a blog post today that made me dive into this question.
The blogger said her relationship to prayer had changed, her name for God had changed, her capacity to feel God had changed. What she once called God, she now called Life. What she once saw as rungs on a ladder, she now saw as a hologram. What she once saw as out there, she now sees everywhere.
For many of us, our perception of God has expanded. This raised questions for her, just as it probably has for you. It certainly did for me.
My relationship to prayer and capacity to feel (or experience) God has also changed. What I once saw as rungs on a ladder have also become a holistic, systems view of spiritual relationship. My name for God has also changed - well, not changed exactly, expanded. God now also goes by Yahweh, Divine, All That Is, Almighty Father/Mother. And what I once saw as out there is now everywhere.
She asked herself, "If I believed God was everywhere, then who was I praying to?" I've asked this question myself, but my answer has a different outcome and experience. For me, the question pops the answer into full living color in a way I hadn't seen before.
She came to the conclusion that instead of praying and asking for things, she would declare what she wanted. In declaring her desires, she would create the life she wanted. And you could too.
There is some truth here. But it's only half of the story. We all remember the Law of Attraction that took the world by storm a few years ago. Mny Christians were outraged, suggesting it told us to eliminate God from the picture and replace ourselves as the creators of our destiny. At the time, my reaction was - well, isn't that what prayer is?
I didn't see a disconnect between the Law of Attraction and prayer. It wasn't that the Law of Attraction was a substitute for prayer, but rather, the Law of Attraction described how prayer works!
To my way of thinking, it might explain the nature and design of prayer. There are many studies demonstrating that prayer actually works, even though nobody knows why. What we do understand through science is that the living system is an interdependent whole, which constitutes all life on earth. The more we learn about the design of the living system, the more in awe I am. This design demonstrates the order and wonder of life, and makes God come more alive to me, not less. This is how the Law of Attraction effected me too.
When one considers the basic premise of the Law of Attraction, it seems to mirror the idea of prayer. Couldn't it be exactly what God's design intended? The theory suggests that giving attention to something you want is key to manifesting it. Our thoughts are energy, which begin the process of bringing life to an idea. However, it's not the only ingredient to manifesting it. It's also important to have passion and emotion behind it, in it. The emotional energy that's attached to the vision helps to manifest it.
Think about anything you've developed a deep passion about. It takes a hold of you and won't let go. This is the kind of passion that builds companies, nations, families. So why wouldn't it also be the vehicle needed to manifest your dreams? Looking back on my own life, when this inner passion was activated towards an idea or vision, it came to fruition.
Isn't this like prayer? At least the process we traditionally call prayer? It is how prayer circles, prayer chains, prayer warriors operate. These are the exact steps we take in collective or individual prayer.
There is one big difference between my understanding and the blogger's conclusion or the Law of Attraction theory, however. Both conclusions lack one major - and I mean MAJOR component.
When we first try on the idea that God is All That Is, our human nature is tempted to limit God. Particularly when we have no clue about what All That Is is. A constant thread throughout the history of man is an instinctual yearning for spiritual reality or understanding. It has drawn mankind toward a spiritual quest since time began.
But if we conclude that All That Is equates to life, we might be headed down a dead end path. The blogger's conclusion was that God is now Life, and she prays to Life. If we pray to life, is it idolotry? The idol being our idea of what life is? Does life preclude the supernatural or other realms? To me, it limits God to life as we understand it.
One might argue that life is the same as All That Is, but is it? We can't answer that - nobody knows. A similar line of thought is if we worship God, yet think of God as a noun, it's also idolotry. God is not an object. I realize this idea might cause your mind to struggle, and even rebel. But please think about it before you do. There is wisdom here, even if it breaks open some paradigms.
That said, if you are someone who rejects science, and cannot come to terms with the idea that the Book of Genesis' translation of time may be representative of longer periods of time than originally thought, it's proabbly best not to read on. But if you do get that it's possible, isn't it also possible that like earth's system of design, and the universe which science is only beginning to understand, that prayer was also designed to work in a particular way? Doesn't it stand to reason that there is a design behind it too, just like life itself? If so, it's likely a way that incorporates the working engines that drive life itself? Matter, energy, and spirit.
Aside from the Bible's directive to have no other gods before God, why would it matter if we practiced idolotry?
One reason is it breaks the whole into parts, and everything is interconnected. This leads us to the primary reason it matters.
It negates and minimizes the Holy and the Sacred.
The Holy is the spiritual journey. It's what sets our spiritual path in motion, and what leads to our highest self. The Holy is what we yearn for. It's the quest, the dream and reality we can touch but can't define. The Holy is what transforms and guides us.
Without the Holy, where does the spiritual or supernatural live, or God reside in our understanding?
Life without the holy mystery beyond itself is limiting it to what we understand. Or what we think we understand.
Then again, we might simply be battling words again...
But I don't think so.