Friday, October 15, 2021

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, October 16, 2021 - Ask and You Shall See

 I’ve been dieting lately. Of a sort. I lost a few pounds, but I haven’t really gotten very far. And then an old prayer idea popped into my head. I don’t remember where I heard it, though I immediately resonated with the idea. 

The prayer is: Please help me see what you would have me see. Please make me attracted to the directions I should journey. Please make me hunger for the food that will make me well. Please make your light sparkle for me. Amen.

The theology behind this prayer is twofold because part of it is an investment in faith and the other is the physics of asking. 

To make good use of this prayer, we must be open to assuming that what we want/need is always hovering around us in the periphery. It’s just a matter of connecting with it. This belief is an investment. For some it’s a risky one. It implies that God provides all the time, and that we are somehow doing it wrong. 

But remember that learning is not shameful. Growing is a process. Thinking of our lack of ability or knowledge in that judgemental way only slows down our naturally forward momentum. 

What if there actually is a God who loves us? What if It knows us intrinsically, and foresees our needs as well as our failures? What if It puts benevolence in our pathway all the time?

That idea is the investment of faith I’m describing. Risking a belief that we are loved. Attached to that is faith that this love comes with benefits. 

The second part of the prayer is the mechanics behind the function of asking. All kinds of things happen to us when we ask questions. The more questions we ask the better our questions become, for one. 

But the practice of asking also increases emotional resiliency and open mindedness. It helps soothe our egos because as we get better at asking questions, we become more confident in our willingness to admit that we don’t know everything. 

It seems the brightest swath of world faith maintains a belief that God knows all. But then we drop the ball when it comes to wondering about the implications of “knowing all.” Our traditions also often hold that God exists in a timeless space. And that God will forgive us if we ask. 

I don’t think God actually needs us to ask for forgiveness of our mistakes for Its own sake. Rather, I think God wants us to hear ourselves ask for it. Knowing what science is out there regarding the physics of asking (and of being asked, for that matter) it appears to be a tool of our creation. Something we’re supposed to use. Like a little gadget in our junk drawer that’s been there for years but we’ve never really used it and we’re not sure exactly how. But it doesn’t take up very much space so we just leave it there. 

Together, these ideas imply that our needs are anticipated, our mistakes are understood before we even make them, and that we are given an endless supply of opportunities to make more of ourselves than we already are; no matter how many times we turn those opportunities away. But we must go through the hoop of asking. There’s a point to it.

“Please help me see what you would have me see.” I know that what I need is out there. I just need a little help opening my eyes to it. 

“Please make me attracted to the directions I should journey.” Make the directions seem brighter to my eyes, or help me feel a pull from my heart in the direction I should take. Give me the courage to actually go there without always understanding why. 

This line’s a big one: “Please make me hunger for the food that will make me well.” I would love it if the part of me that desired fast food that could just be flipped off like a switch. Maybe that sounds too simple. But what if stating it like a desire, and asking to see the ways in which it might be possible, works? 

Basic psychology would suggest that even saying it out loud when you want to be on the lookout for certain things, helps bring our attention to them. Why not food? If there’s an energetic force that connects us, or even gives the appearance of knowing us, might aligning our brains with that idea perhaps resonate with a new field of vision? In other words, couldn’t we ask God for help in tricking our brain to like broccoli better than potato chips?

And the last line: “Please make your light sparkle for me. Amen.” Whatever is true is true with or without our belief. I cannot prove to you that there is a God, or that It loves us, or that It puts in our path the tools for our success. These are just traditional ways of thinking about ideas which are too large for us to comprehend. 

But it’s OK. Maybe they represent larger, more rational physics that we just can’t understand yet. Maybe prayer is a way of tapping into something that we don’t have to understand in order to benefit from. There’s only one way to find out. And who knows? I might even lose a few more pounds. 

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