Excerpted from

Handle with Prayer

by Alan Cohen


The most rudimentary form of prayer is worry. How, you ask, could worry be a form of prayer? Worry is not only a form of prayer, it is the form most often practiced by the most people. How can this be?

Our understanding of prayer beginis with one basic principle:

To think is to create.

Every thought you think tends to manifest according to its nature. Everything in your life began with an idea. If you are going to build a home, you start with a blueprint. If you are painting a portrait, the model sits before you as you set your hand to the canvas. If you are traveling from Chicago to Seattle, a thought precedes your first step. The notion of something coming into existence without a thought preceding it is as preposterous as a flower growing without a seed to start it.

This brings us to our second prayer principle:

All thoughts create according to their own kind.

Apples make apples, and oranges form oranges. An apple seed has never grown an orange, and it never will. In the same way, thoughts of love, light, and joy beget more of the same; and thoughts of fear, lack, and smallness attract their own kind.

To change your life, begin by changing your thoughts.

Because most people do not understand that every thought is a prayer, they attempt to change their lives by rearranging the outer world without addressing the negative thoughts they are holding about it. This is called a "geographical cure," which does not work. It is useless to try to change your outer world unless you first change your inner world. if you attempt to make external changes before doing the necessary inner transformation, the outer world will just keep repeating the same pattern. The movie Groundhog Day illustrates a very entertaining lesson in how we keep re-creating the same situation over and over again until we change our mind. The moment our attitude shifts, so does the situation.

If you want or love something a great deal, you will attract it into your life. And if you fear or worry about something with emotional intensity, you will attract the object of your fear. The universal manifestation machine is unbiased in turning your thoughts into reality.

If you are not aware that your thoughts are powerful, you will spend a great deal of time thinking and talking about what you do not want, and you will receive more of the same, and on and on, until your life is a mess and you have no idea why. You will identity yourself as victim, find people who agree with you; and discover news stories, scientific studies, and all manner of evidence to prove that life is unfair and you are just a pimple on the complexion of the universe.

There is another way. You weren't born to live small, and you don't have to. You can shift your attitude now and begin to think about what you do want instead of what you don't want. Then, the universe will have no choice but to give you what you are concentrating on in your favor, instead of against it.

Worry is the power of creation turned against your own best interests. The same engine that runs your car in reverse will move it forward if you but reposition the gearshift. To shift from reverse to drive, reframe your experiences to find the blessing rather than the problem. Then you will become the master of your universe, rather than its victim.

What you become is not a result of what happens to you; it is a result of how you think about what happens to you. Six-year-old Tommy's parents were aghast as they watched their son repeatedly throw a baseball in the air, swing at it with a bat, and miss it by a foot. Finally, Tommy's dad could take it no longer. He approached the boy, put a hand on his shoulder, and compassionately told him, "Well., son, I guess you're just not meant to be a hitter."

"Hitter?" the child looked at his father questioningly. "Who cares about hitting? I'm going to be the greatest pitcher who ever lived!"

When Jesus taught, "As a man thinketh, so shall it be," he was reminding us that we must keep our mind on our hopes, not our fears. We must focus on our heart's desires rather than our nightmares.

Here is your antidote to worry: Choose a phrase that brings you release, relief, and empowerment, such as "Peace, be still," "The power of God is within me," or "Love is the answer." Whenever worry begins to set in, consciously and meditatively repeat your positive phrase until you return to peace. The mind is capable of paying attention to only one thought at a time. If you focus on ideas that uplift you, your mind will be unable to dwell on fearful issues. Eventually you will develop the habit of positive thinking, and the worry that once haunted you will have no reality. Begin to master the power of prayer by replacing self-defeating thoughts with visions of your brightest future.

Today I set my mind and heart on a new path. I focus my energy on love, appreciation, and my highest possibilities. Today I claim responsibility for my own success, and step forward with a new enthusiasm to manifest unprecedented good. I use my mind to create only the best, and I draw unto me all the support and resources I need for positive change. Thank you, God, for opening the door to a life filled with blessings.

Divine Discontent

The blessing of getting what you do not want is that it reminds you what you do want. Abraham, through Ester Hicks

There is a classic scene in the movie Network in which Peter Finch, utterly fed up with life he has become embroiled in, sticks his head out of his office window and yells at the top of his lungs, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" As he reaches his boiling point, this character recognizes in a dramatic way that the life he has created is destroying him, and it is time to make a move toward changing it.

If the life you have created (or part of it) is not working for you, you need to tell the truth about it. You do not need to get angry, make anyone wrong, or yell out a window, but you do need to get in touch with the place within you that realizes that what you have been doing does not match you and your vision.

The feeling "This can't be it" is a very powerful form of prayer. It is the agony of the separated self longing for reunion with wholeness. It is the call of your soul urging you to return to your own path and purpose. It is the force of evolution driving you home. Do not try to deny or override your divine discontent. Heed its call; capture the wave and ride it home.

Knowing that "this can't be it" implies that you do know what is it. You may not be able to verbalize what it is, but somewhere inside you, your knowingness lives. Now that you recognize what you don't want, what do you want?

A woman who was going through a major life upheaval told me, "All I know for sure is that I want to walk in the woods each morning."

"Great!" I told her. "That's all you need to know for now; just walk in the morning, and you will be led to your next realization."

The moment you shift your attention from what you don't want to what you do want, you set into motion a series of dynamics that will lead you to fulfillment. Positive thinking does not mean making believe something is serving you when it isn't.

Positive thinking means finding the good in all experiences, including the ones that guide you away from repeating them.

Divine discontent also grows through more subtle, long-term experiences. You don't have to be hit between the eyes with a two-by-four to gain the benefits of divine discontent. You may be in a career or relationship that brings you a gradually increasing uneasiness that "there must be more." If you have such a feeling, give thanks for the signals your soul is sending you. Boredom is more insidious than emergency, for when we gradually adjust to numbness, we are unaware that we have lost our passion, and we fall into the ranks of the living dead. When crisis occurs, however, we are forced to feel deeply, and we have a blessed opportunity to reclaim the life force we have denied.

If you feel there must be more, there is more.

Your sense of boredom, contraction, or resentment is your soul's way of letting you know that you are settling for less. While we fear that we may get hurt if we go for our dreams, we hurt ourselves much more by putting up with painful, dysfunctional, or unfulfilling situations.

When your discomfort with the status quo out-weighs your fear of making a change, you will move ahead and be grateful for the motion bestowed by divine discontent.

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