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Letting Go with Guy Finley

Letting Go with Guy Finley

Start Asking Life for Something New

posted by Guy Finley

If we receive from life what we’re asking for, which is always the case, maybe it isn’t so much that we’re unable to ask for the right and rescuing realities as it may be that we don’t know how to request what we really need. Most of us think that prayer is primarily asking for something: “Oh please do this for me,” or “Would you just do that?” or “Why won’t you intervene?” We think prayer is somehow connected to all these wishes centered, one way or another, around ourselves. But, what we’re attempting to reveal is the spirit itself inside of us that is first necessary in order to receive the request that we’ve asked for.

The New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son tells of a new order of request. This powerful parable is about a young man who, as the story unfolds, originally lived in a pretty good place. All that he needed was provided. But, like many of us, he saw greener pastures outside of his given life and so he leaves it and eventually squanders everything his father had given to him.

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Then, one fateful morning, he awakens to find himself having slept in a pig sty and having only corn husks to eat. So he looks at himself and his surroundings and he says, “I’m an idiot. Why did I leave home?” And at that moment he turns around and he goes back home.

The story continues that his father sees him heading back home from this great distance and calls to his eldest son that his younger brother returns and that he’s to go and kill the fatted calf. With this, the older brother becomes enraged, saying: “I’ve been with you all these years. I’ve given you everything I have, and now this good-for-nothing comes home after squandering everything you gave him, and you’re giving him the feast! Why?!”

Now, the answer recorded in the New Testament that his father gives him is, in essence: “Because my son was dead, and now he has come back to life. He was lost and now he’s found.” But let me reveal to you the secret answer within this answer.

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What the father of the prodigal son has really said is: “I’m doing this (preparing a welcoming feast) for him because he asked for it. By his actions your brother has requested my renewed love and loyalty. You’ve been with me all along, so there was never any question of your fidelity. But your brother, he was gone. He was a lost to me, and his wish — along with his action of turning around to come home — is a special request to be once again a part of this, my kingdom.”

The “lost” son asked for his New Life by seeing that he was wrong and then deciding to return to his home. Incidentally, he did not know what was going to happen to him. And I’ll tell you that it didn’t matter to him because here’s what was going through his mind as headed back home: “I’ve been a fool! All I possess is my own mistaken self.” And he knew it. Which brings us to the key point: the understanding of his true condition — and the subsequent action he took based on this knowledge — was a form of Higher Request.

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Until you understand how to ask for what you really want, you will continue to ask in the ways that you think are appropriate. And you will continue to ask from a nature that doesn’t know the difference between what’s genuinely good for you and what’s not. This is a huge question for all of us, because presently, the way we’re constituted, our lives are nothing but a series of requests, whether they’re done in a “spiritual-religious” sense or whether it’s just out-and-out greed or ambition. We are always asking, and then not understanding, why it is for all the things we’ve asked for, our lives still seem to be this proverbial leaf in the wind.

As this (at first humiliating) new self-understanding grows in you, what happens is you naturally start asking life for something New. As slow as it may have been in coming, you’re beginning to get the picture. You’re now able to see, albeit “through a glass darkly,” what it really is that’s missing from your life. And your new request reflects this realization.

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Be Careful What You Pray For . . .

posted by Guy Finley

The following may shock you, and I hope it comes as just that.

Everyone practices prayer twenty-four hours a day . . . only neither do they know they’re praying, nor do they know (and this is the real problem) what it is they’re praying for! And this fact of life includes those people who say, “But I don’t believe in prayer. I don’t have a spiritual practice.” A moment’s consideration of the following insight proves the truth of this claim.

Expectation is a form of prayer.

Let’s look at a few simple examples to prove the point. Don’t you walk around hoping that what you’ve hoped for will happen? “Of course,” you would have to reply. “But what’s that to do with prayer?”

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Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that your hope that money’s going to come is a kind of prayer to the god of money? Certainly no one deliberately, consciously, sits there and says, “Oh please, lord of dollar bill signs, pour yourself down on me.” Then again, most likely, some do. Hopefully you don’t say to yourself, “Oh god of Mars, strike down this person who said that evil thing about me.” But you may be hoping for some harm to befall someone who hurt you. It’s possible the wish for revenge may be the momentary point of your life, as it becomes for many when they feel betrayed. So, in case this isn’t yet clear to you, realized or not, these hopes or wishes — all such expectations — are a form of prayer.

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When beset by troubles, how many of us have ever thought: “Why is this happening to someone as nice as me?” We’re forever telling ourselves, “I don’t deserve this kind of pain! My life is not supposed to be spinning out of control!” So we pray — in one form or another — for something that we think is either connected to what we want or to something that’s greater than the condition we perceive is punishing us. What we don’t yet understand is that within these prayers, whatever form they may take, we’re praying for something that we don’t understand. And this is why life continues to bring us the very things we say we don’t want.

 

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The True Task in Prayer

posted by Guy Finley

Rare are those of us who come to pray for a new self, because few reach the point where we say, and really mean, “Can you help me?” This is because it’s impossible to ask for a new self, for a new life, for God to be our life, until we have played ourselves out — until we’ve taken all the colors that our false nature can muster, and thrown them up in every possible combination on the canvas of our life, and realize that no matter what we do, we can’t get it to be pretty and stay that way.

The world of our making is so wearisome. Just look how we have to make it over and over. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is we start running out of things we can imagine to make it into! Then this same self-creating nature turns on itself. It gets vicious with itself and with everyone else for the pain that it’s inflicting on itself. And as it does that, it closes itself off forever from saying, “Can you help me?” because it can’t help itself. And when it can’t help itself it closes the circle from help coming in forever by denying that there is anything outside of itself, which it does in self-loathing and self-hatred.

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So we reach the point where we start to understand that there truly is an order to the process of real prayer, because for prayer to work it must begin with a genuine request. This genuine request has to be based in reality, not in wishes, hopes, and dreams. It can’t be based in wants. It can’t even be based in ideals. For prayer to work, it must have what it needs to work — the uncovered heart, the exposed heart. This heart can’t be lied to anymore by the mind, which says, “One day you will be beautiful, wise or strong.” At that point, when reality produces our request, this request is the same as the Way. And the Way, if one adheres to it, is the same as approaching what amounts to a number of invisible interior doors. Christ said, “Knock and it shall be opened to you.” This special knocking has to do with sincerely saying, “Can you help me?” Surrender the self at each door on the Way, and then the door opens. This will happen to you, for you, if you’ll persist sincerely with your wish for a new life.

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Work with the following higher understanding until you can see the truth of it for yourself within yourself. From this moment forward start seeing that when, in a fit of unhappiness, you feel you weren’t made for this world, at that moment the “you” that is speaking made that world. Your task in prayer, and with prayer, is to reach a very simple quiet state — the very simple admission of “I don’t like the world I’ve made. Can you help me?” Then your slate will be wiped clean. God is just waiting to be asked.

When God begins wiping clean the slate of your life, it doesn’t mean he passes on to you a certain strength that now makes you a believer in yourself as someone who can create great things. That “strength” that you feel flowing into you as you enter into relationship with God is you leaving behind the level where you are identified with the weakness that made you a victim of everything you encountered, including your own thoughts. So, it’s not growth the way we imagine seeing ourselves growing. There has always been some confusion surrounding the idea of what it means “to grow” spiritually, but perhaps never as much as in these present times.

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Real spiritual growth is a kind of passing; it is the old giving way to the new because we no longer want what we once were. In that quiet passing comes that self which was always there before, which you are now at last communing with. Every single longing, every prayer a person ever utters and reaches for, always has to do with something within; something somehow felt to be just beyond reach, and if only they could get through that door and stand there, all would be well.

That’s the spiritual path. It’s within you. And you must make the journey. But to make the journey you have to be on the Way, and to be on the Way, you must understand the request that begins it. Give up in the right way. Learning to surrender yourself begins with learning to see the need to surrender yourself. The rest takes care of itself.

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The Practice of Ceaseless Prayer

posted by Guy Finley

Waiting on God, the practice of ceaseless prayer, working at quiet mindfulness: none of these measures preclude being active in life; what is required of us is that our first action is stillness, followed by willingness to receive whatever we have been given by Life.

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