The following is an excerpt from the late great Cayce scholar Elsie Sechrist‘s book Meditation: Gateway to Light. More information concerning Cayce’s insights into prayer can be found at the Edgar Cayce research foundation (A.R.E.).
One the interesting topics of information Cayce received was concerning prayer. Cayce believed that the energy of prayer was sent by thought – almost like a beam of white light being sent out to the individual(s) for whom we are praying.
Meditation does not lessen the need for prayer, because it does not take the place of prayer. Prayer is a mental activity on our part addressed to God. Meditation is a listening state so that we may hear God speak to us.
Prayer comes before meditation, before the affirmation; and we may pray, if need be, all day long as we go about our daily work. Jesus found it necessary at times to pray for long periods. Certainly prayer should be a constant activity of the religious heart. The Cayce readings remind us that:
“He that would know the way must be oft in prayer.” (Edgar Cayce)
There are many types of prayer. Unfortunately the most common one is the “gimme” prayer, wherein we beg God for favors. Is this wrong? Not for some people. For prayer, the art of prayer, is an ever-growing experience. When there is an acceptance of God’s presence, one knows that God will supply all that is truly needed to fulfill one’s purpose in life.
The art of visualization, so common today as a form of prayer, is another type of the gimme prayer. We want to make sure that God knows exactly what we want, so we send him pictures of it. If we are going to tell God that we know what is best for ourselves what is the point in praying in the first place?
Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done.” The enlightened soul relegates the gimme prayer to the nursery toy box, and turns to the prayer of thanksgiving, of adoration, of petition for the woes of others, always adding, “Thy will be done.”
The Cayce readings tell us that the daily prayer of Jesus was, “Others, Lord, others.” From this it is self-evident that the prayers of supplication of the awakened soul deal primarily with the needs of others. The more we pray for others, the more we gain in the power to pray, and the more are we ourselves blessed. For how can we sincerely pray for another, and not be praying for ourselves, too?
Asking God for forgiveness shows proper repentance for wrongs committed, but unless those wrongs are righted by our own conscious effort, we shall never feel forgiven.
We may pray for guidance, but if we are not trying to do what we think is right, will God hear us? Yes, but we may not hear him. As the Bible tells us, an unrepented sin seals our ears to the voice of God.
May we pray to escape further trails and tribulations? Certainly. Jesus did; but when he knew that he had to die on the cross to fulfill his purpose, he accepted it unfalteringly.
God does not wish to see us suffer; our adversities are of our own creation. We have transgressed by either commission or omission, something we should not have done, or something we should have done. Just as a parent punishes a child in order to correct it, so the laws of God prove immovable when we try to resist them. The more we struggle to resist, the more hopelessly do we entangle ourselves at the mental or physical or material or emotional level, and sometimes on all four levels simultaneously.
Our attitude when we are sick or suffering should be, again, “Thy will be done.” This calls for an inner submission while awaiting recovery, but doesn’t stop us from doing all within our power to get well. A rededication of heart and mind and an acceptance of suffering as a needed lesson have on more than one occasion brought instantaneous healing.
“Thy Will. Thy Spirit. Thy Ways” is the cry of the awakened soul.
How does one pray? Just as the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, so many people today ask the same question; it would be presumptuous of us, however, to tell another exactly how he should formulate the words of anything so personal and private as a prayer. The words themselves are not important. It is the spirit in which they are said which is all-important. God already knows more about the contents of our hearts than we do; our real need is to be perpetually aware of him as the source of our protection, and so we pray to keep unbroken contact with him. The words in themselves are not as important as some people would have us think. As Kahlil Gibran says:
“God listens not to your words save when He utters them through your lips.” (Kahlil Gibran)
What is the best position in which to pray? A group of ministers once met to decide that very problem. They talked at length without reaching any conclusion. Some insisted that it was essential to kneel. Those with bony knees said that it was just as effective to keep seated. Others felt that they had to pace to and fro to generate the necessary fire. When the debate threatened to become heated, they decided to leave the decision to the only parson who had been silent throughout. He came from a rural parish, and he answered them thus:
“One day when I was late for service, I ran across a neighbor’s yard and fell headlong into his well. Half way down, my foot caught in a broken board, and I hung there upside down. Brethren, I have never prayed so well before or since!”
I hope that proves it is not our position but our sincerity which makes our prayers effective.
Prayer directs the consciousness to God. Through prayer, we solicit aid from divine power. Prayer encourages humility, takes one outside of self to him, brings guidance, releases tensions and brings healing. Many people go into a state of meditation without realizing it when, worn out from prayer, they wait for answering help. Here the results of prayer are one with the rewards of meditation.
While we need always to call on the Lord, we need even more to listen to Him, and it is in the quiet of meditation that there is a stepping-up of spiritual receptivity in every phase of our being.
We learn so much more by listening. This is what the Bible means when it says:
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Every religion speaks of the quest of the soul for the holy grail – the place of the Most High. The Chinese speak of it as the “old road.” The Hindus call it the “path of return.” Christians refer to it as “the way.” Meditation is the gateway that leads us to God.
Praying Tips from Edgar Cayce
Prayer is supplication for direction, for understanding. Meditation is listening to the divine within.
Prayer is like a plea to your superior. Meditation is meeting your superior on common ground.
Those who want to know the way must pray often and joyously, knowing that God gives life to those who sincerely seek to be a channel of blessing to someone.
Prayer is attuning your consciousness to the divine consciousness, either with others or individually.
All prayer is answered. So don’t tell God how to answer it.
Why worry when you can pray? Your power is very limited. The power of God is unlimited.
The prayers of ten people can save a city. The prayers of twenty-five can save a nation as the prayers of one person can. But there is strength in numbers.
Your body, mind and spirit needs the spiritual food of prayer, meditation, and reflection upon spiritual things.