“So many people pray and pray and pray. They don’t get action. Our bodies need to be acted upon. It is not altogether praying, but it is doing. You must do something.”
~ Charles Fillmore
“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.”
~ Ernest Holmes
The phrase “thoughts and prayers” has more and more become a cliché as tragedy after tragedy in the form of mass shootings has occurred in the United States. The phrase has become synonymous with politicians who want to express sorrow, or the appearance of sorrow, for one of these shootings, but have no intention of taking any actions to prevent future incidents.
Often, we in New Thought find ourselves on a similar path – we profess sorrow and offer our form of thoughts and prayers,” but we take no action. And as the quotes from two of the founders of major branches of the New Thought Movement state above, prayer without action is often insufficient. I will use the terms “prayer” and “treatment” interchangeably in this post.
Some say prayer alone is sufficient. And while that is sometimes true, it is not always true. The flow of consciousness is a continuous thing. What we think and feel after the prayer is done also builds our belief system. That is why, in Religious Science, the final step in prayer-treatment, RELEASE is so important. We set in mind to remain in full accord with the intention and feeling of the prayer-treatment. If we slip back into thought/feeling patterns which support the condition we are treating about, we effectively undo the effects of the prayer-treatment. Acting in a manner consistent with the intention and feeling of the prayer-treatment is a powerful way to keep oneself centered on that intention. We know that action in concert with the vision and intention of prayer creates a continuation of causation into a more positive and powerful realm.
In Religious Science, we say, “treat and move your feet.” That is not something to be taken lightly – action in accord with intention and attention is creative. It demonstrates sufficient confidence in a prayer/treatment to act. Alternatively, I can treat for more money and sit in my recliner waiting for the postal to service deliver it. But how often does that work? It doesn’t. Prayer changes the one who prays, not God, for God is changeless. If you pray and do not change, then the prayer has not been effective.
It is precisely in those cases where the predominant current consciousness is not in the direction of the prayer that we need to act – to go beyond the mental/emotional, combining the mental/emotional with acts. Where our energy is expressed through coherent action with the intention of the prayers. This is what “treat and move your feet” means.
“I don’t mind ‘thoughts and prayers’ as long as (a) people are actually thinking of ways to console the bereaved and help end the scourge of gun violence, and (b) people are actually praying. ‘Thoughts and prayers’ necessitates thinking and praying. Both should lead to action.”
~ James Martin, S.J.
What about when you do not know how to act? Then pray for guidance – but do so with the expectation that you will be acting in some way. Some of the issues at hand, gun violence in the United States for example, are complex and there are many minds that will have to see things differently for there to be substantive change. But, if there is passion within you regarding any issue, there is something for you to do. Seek inner guidance to find what is yours to do, understanding it will take courage to move forward.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
We can be consumed by the problems of the world, especially in these times where we get news from everywhere almost instantaneously. Discernment (LINK) is a key Thriving Skill needed in our information-laden society. No one can take it all upon themselves.
“You cannot let all the world’s tragedies into your heart. You’ll drown. But the ones you do let in should count. Let them manifest action.”
~ Lin-Manuel Miranda
Finding what is mine to do means that I am being selective about where I put my energy. I seek to locate those opportunities where there is a deep resonance for me, and I act there, allowing others to follow their own guidance. I use spiritual practices to find my way and to guide myself through the entire process, from initiating prayer through engagement. – and my energy expands accordingly.
“Action without prayer/meditation leads to exhaustion. Prayer/meditation without actions leads to self-absorption.”
~ Jim Rosemergy
Seeing that the amount of gun violence in the United States is not acceptable doesn’t take a genius. Doing something about it takes wisdom, emotional & spiritual intelligence, and many kinds of skills. I want to be part of that solution process, don’t you? I am effective in bringing more love and wisdom to the world to the degree that I have realized love and wisdom within myself. This requires inner work and a continual, daily practice which gets me centered and keeps me grounded there. I cannot expect to be effective in spiritually motivated social engagement without daily spiritual practice.
“Continuing to do pioneering sacred work in a world as crazy and painful as ours without constantly grounding yourself in a sacred practice would be like running into a forest fire dressed only in a paper tutu.”
~ Marion Woodman
We see this all the time – people who become activists and end up spewing hatred or burning out, because they have not done their spiritual practices, or who don’t have a practice. They have not developed their emotional and spiritual intelligence sufficiently to be truly effective and to maintain a compassionate heart. The energy systems in the political world are turbulent and can be toxic. We must be strong to be effective actors in that arena. It may or may not be the thing for you or for me to do, but if it is, we must prepare ourselves as spiritual warriors. One of the paradoxes of life is that it often takes spiritual warriorship to create The Beloved Community.
We are called to use our spiritual knowledge wisely and effectively. Our tools for doing this are our spiritual practices and our psychological technologies for developing our awareness, our clarity, and our emotional/spiritual intelligence. Let’s join with others in our spiritual communities to encourage each other to develop as a great force for compassion, love, and justice in our world. Sometimes, thoughts and prayers are all you can offer – so do that. Other times, action is possible and appropriate – so do that.
It is time to move beyond the conversation about whether New Thought organizations and spiritual communities should be active in spiritually motivated social engagement. It is time to put our energy into being the best version of ourselves and our teaching as we do engage.
Now is the time.
I deeply appreciate your comments on this post!
Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard