Excerpted from Adventures in Prayer by Sharon Connors. Copyright © 2004 by Sharon Connors. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
1. CHAPTERS 1 THROUGH 3
“Prayer makes one master in the realm of creative ideas.” –Charles Fillmore
“Prayer is one of the essential activities of human life. Throughout history it has nurtured our grandest visions and provided meaning and purpose to our activities.” –Larry Dossey
1.Prayer is our connection to the realm of the divine in a way that accesses the infinite resources of God.
2.There is not a right or wrong way to pray. Seeking God is prayer. Yet, because of the nature of God and the power of thought, there are ways to pray that are more effective than others.
3.Our minds are naturally wild, like the wind. Prayer harnesses the energy for constructive use.
4.Denial and affirmation are the keys that focus and entrain the mind.
1.Share the highlights of your spiritual journey. What were the turning points?
2.How would you describe the God of your understanding?
3.How would you describe your relationship with God?
4.Why do you pray? (…if you do)
1.Try something different regarding your prayer practice this week. If you don’t pray regularly, try that. If you pray only at meals or bedtime, try praying at other times. Notice how you feel.
2.Just for one day dedicate yourself to paying close attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself in negative thoughts, say “no” to them. Ask God to take the thought and transform it into something useful. Fill the space created by releasing the negative thought with a positive thought. Reflect on this experience at the end of the day.
2. CHAPTER 4: Healing the Heart: Prayers for True Relationships
“This is what I ache for: intimacy with myself, others and the world, intimacy that touches the sacred in all that is life.” –Oriah Mountain Dreamer
1.Life is all about relationship.
2.Prayer improves our relationship with all of life.
3.Healing relationships through prayer begins with healing our own heart. This naturally involves healing our relationship with God.
4.Divine Love working in and through us in prayer is the Healer.
1.How would you define intimacy? How do you experience and express it?
2.With whom and with what do you have an intimate relationship? People, work, activities, hobbies, money, places?
3.Share your thoughts about and experiences with forgiveness. How do you forgive?
4.What does acceptance mean to you? What is your experience of acceptance of life on life’s terms? Of difficult people and circumstances?
5.What would embodying the love you desire mean to you? What would it look like?
1.Each night for the next week, pray for the people you find difficult for any reason. Ask God to bless them with all the good things that you would like to be blessed with. Reflect on how you experience this spiritual practice.
2.Each morning this week, ask God for the courage to reach out to one new person each day with an expression of love and appreciation. Then do it.
3. CHAPTER 5: From Confusion to Clarity: Prayers for Guidance
“It’s true; life really is generous to those who pursue their destiny.”–Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
1.Divine Guidance is always about the best possible solution, outcome, or path.
2.Spirit speaks in clear ways, not in confused messages. If we are confused, we have not yet heard Divine Guidance.
3.Growing your capacity to discern Divine Guidance is like developing any new skill, like playing golf or the piano. It takes knowledge, understanding of the principles, and practice, practice, practice.
4.God has a plan for your life that is fulfilling beyond your highest flights of imagination. It comes as step-by-step, day-by-day guidance.
5.If you follow your joy, you are in the flow of God’s Will.
1.What do you believe your destiny to be?
2.Share a time when you felt divinely guided.
3.What current situations do you want Divine Guidance for?
4.How do you recognize Divine Guidance?
1.Set aside time this week to meditate. If this is new to you, try the following: Sit in a favorite chair in a room or place that feels good to you. Focus all of your attention on your breathing. Breathe deeply and fully. Do this with the prayer “Here I am, Lord. Speak, your servant is listening.” Listen to what comes and write it down.
2. Practice remembering to pray for guidance–first with the little things. Test this by doing it.
4. CHAPTER 6: From Fear to Faith: Prayers for Making and Handling Change
“Life is intent on finding what works, not what’s right. It is the ability to keep finding solutions that is important; any one solution is temporary. The capacity to keep changing, to find what works now, is what keeps an organism alive.” –Margaret Wheatley
“The universe is in the business of delivering up the unpredictable.” –George Leonard
1.Change is the ground of our being and of life itself.
2.We cannot, despite our best efforts, control our lives to preclude
3.Change is an opportunity, whether we view it as positive or negative, to know more of God within us and all around us. Praying from a mind of expectancy of good is key as we move through the change with grace and into the potential good.
4.Pray from a vision of the good you seek, knowing that it is seeking you.
1.What have been the most difficult changes in your life? What got you through them?
2.What change would you like to make that you are avoiding out of fear? What makes it difficult?
3.Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, has said that the stories we live in determine whether we are optimistic or pessimistic. Would you describe yourself as optimistic or pessimistic? What stories do you live in that are creating that perspective?
1.Make a small change each day this week. Start with something simple: wear your watch on the other wrist. Pray for strength.
2.Bathe a difficulty in prayer, giving thanks in advance for a good outcome.
5. CHAPTER 7: Partnering with Grace: Prayers for Healing
“…Let me define what it means to be an ordained healer. An ordained healer is one who is open to the energy of God through prayer and utilizes that energy to heal individuals as well as the planet.” –Caroline Myss
1.There is a difference between healing and curing.
2.God is the Creative Force of all life and can be accessed through the power of prayer to heal what needs to be healed.
3.Effective healing prayer focuses on the solution, not the problem.
4.The focus of prayers for healing is to create a healing consciousness.
1.Share your ideas about “curing” and “healing”.
2.What are your healing needs now? Beliefs about yourself, God, others, money, your body, your potential, negative emotions?
3.Which of the seven principles in the chapter do you find most helpful now? Why?
1.Do something this week that contributes to your sense of health and well-being.
2.In your prayer time, create a vision of health, vitality, and well-being for yourself. What does it look like? What would you have to give up? Begin thanking God in advance for its (the vision) fulfillment and then let it go into the Creative Substance of God.
6. CHAPTER 8: Living the Abundant Life: Prayers for Prosperity
“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.” –Robert Louis Stevenson
1.Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they are yours.
2.God is abundance itself, and that abundance is accessible to us through affirming in prayer that it is so.
3.We have a moment-to-moment choice to dance with our dreams or dance with our fears. One leads to living an abundant life and the other leads to living a limited, unfulfilling life.
4.The life you dream of is a call from the heart of God to bring it into manifestation.
1.Share your ideas and experience of living the “abundant life”. What does that mean to you?
2.What do you believe about the Scripture statement “With God all things are possible”?
3.Share you ideas about “You’ll see it when you believe it”.
4.What gives you a sense of abundance–joy, plenty, purpose, peace?
1.Choose one of the practices from the chapter for developing an abundance consciousness to practice for this week. Choose a new one each week.
2.Keep a journal of your feelings and experiences in doing the practices.
3.Once each day, visualize the good you desire. Enjoy and cherish the visions.
7. CHAPTER 9: Surrender & Willingness: Prayers That Open Heaven’s Door
“We look with uncertainty beyond the old choices for clear-cut answers to a softer, more permeable aliveness which is at every moment at the brink of death; for something new is being born in us if we but let it. We stand at a new doorway, awaiting that which comes, daring to be human creatures, vulnerable to the beauty of existence, learning to love.”–Ann Hillman
1.Heaven is not a place. It is an experience of some aspect of God. It is a state of heart.
2.Accepting what is rather than fighting it opens you to the activity of God in and through you in such a way that you come to experience some aspect of heaven.
3.Surrender is letting go of the internal fight to have something or someone different than it is. Willingness is giving up your will and becoming willing toward God’s Will–nothing less, nothing more, nothing else.
1.Share an experience that you could term “hellish” and one that you could term “heavenly”.
2.What makes an experience hell or heaven for you?
3.Is there a place in your life where you feel stuck? Dissatisfied? What would you have to surrender or be willing toward in order to move out of “stuck”.
4.What would be the hardest thing for you to surrender? To be willing toward? Why?
1.Reflect on what heavenly experiences would be for you. Write them. Visualize them. Each time you think of them, say “Thank you, God, for this desire, and your answer to it.” Then let it go.
2.Create or find a prayer that helps you surrender your will to God each day.
8. CHAPTER 10: Finding Your True Purpose: Prayers for Fulfillment
“I discovered that people are not really afraid of dying; they’re afraid of not ever having lived, not ever having deeply considered their life’s higher purpose and at least tried to make a difference in this world.” –Joseph Jaworski
1.Our search for meaning and purpose lives in us as a call from God.
2.In becoming still in prayer and asking, God’s purpose for your life will be revealed to you in a way you can understand.
3.Finding a true sense of fulfillment will require you to relinquish your comfort zones, to set sail from the safe harbors of what you already know and venture into the unknown.
1.Share things that give meaning to your life.
2.What is one of the most daring things you have done? How did you feel after doing it?
3.What do you believe is the purpose of your life?
1.Make a list of the things that bring you joy and do one this week like a spiritual practice.
2.Cut out pictures and words that express and depict what brings you joy; pictures and words that express a fond dream for your life. Paste them artfully on poster board. Keep them in a place where you will see them every day. Love them in a grateful yet detached way.
3.Find a place to be in service–one hour a week for a month and notice how you feel.
9. CHAPTER 11: Creating Miracles: Prayers of Gratitude and Praise
“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is “Thank You”, that would suffice.” –Meister Eckhart
1.Prayers of gratitude to God are magnetic to receiving more reasons to be grateful.
2.Gratitude transforms problems into blessings and opens the way for the most astonishing solutions.
3.Gratitude is a high energy that heals, attracts blessings, and makes one attractive.
4.Giving thanks in advance for the good you seek actually draws it
1.Share your response to the idea that gratitude for your difficulties is healing and prospering.
2.Share your ideas about the relationship between optimism and gratefulness.
3.Share five things that you are most grateful for in your life.
4.Share an experience in which something that seemed awful turned out to be helpful–a new beginning, a blessing, an important change.
1.Thank God each morning for a new day and each evening for the good in the day.
2.Start giving thanks for something you deeply desire as if you have it. Feel the feelings you would have if you had it. Immerse yourself in the feelings of having it.
3.Write a thank-you letter to God for the times you have been helped and blessed.
4. Thank and appreciate one person each day–like a prayer.