Let’s begin by looking at desire, because all good things, whether or not they are brought to fruition, begin in the realm of desire. It is desire that gives rise to our dreams in life and it is desire that provides the fuel for performing the positive activities that will allow us to bring those dreams into reality. In this sense, desire provides positive motivation. When we truly desire something with our whole heart we set in motion the powers of the mind to achieve that which we desire. If we have as a goal to deepen our walk of faith and manifest some degree of success in living the genuine Christian life then we must recognize that this positive goal began as a desire. Further, the power of a strong desire, when properly applied, helps insure our success. Christian Larson tells us:
…it is readily understood why the wish, if strong, positive, determined and continuous, will tend to produce the thing wished for…It is not occasional desire, or half-hearted desire that gets the thing desired. It is persistent desire; persistent desire not only desires continually, but with all the power of life and mind and soul. The force of a half-alive desire, when acting upon a certain faculty (the subconscious mind) cannot cause that faculty to become fully alive….it is true that the desires of most people are neither continuous nor very deep. They are shallow, occasional, wishes without enough power to stir to action a single atom.
Let’s look more closely at what Larson is trying to tell us when we apply these principles to the process of spiritual formation. If you want to develop spiritually you must first possess the desire to do so. Lack of desire is why so many Christians fail. They just don’t have any desire to improve. Larson goes on to say that our desire must be strong, positive, determined, and continuous. He further states that it is persistent desire that brings about results. When applied to our spiritual formation it means specifically that we must have:
Strong Desire: From the outset of our desire to improve must be strong and unwavering.
Positive Desire: We must always keep in the forefront of our minds the concept of positive thinking and positive faith in ourselves and especially in God. We should always remind ourselves that part of our purpose in life is to grow and develop, in short, to become all that we can be.
Desire: Our desire must be paired with a willful determination to make every effort to see it through to completion.
Desire: Continuous desire means ongoing desire. If we are to be successful our desire cannot be here today and gone tomorrow. Although there may be days when we feel like our energy is low and our desire is at low ebb, we must maintain the power to resurrect our dream and keep it ever before us. This is the surest way to success and fulfillment.
In addition to these four vital characteristics of positive desire, Larson goes on to
Tell us that an “occasional, half-hearted desire” will avail us nothing. It is easy to see, based on Larson words, why so many apathetic, ambivalent, and lethargic Christians fall short of their goals. Their desire is occasional and half-hearted. Ambivalent and lethargic Christians have the dream but not the drive. Apathetic Christians don’t even have the dream.
What is the opposite of occasional, half-hearted desire? A desire that is continuous and full-hearted. It means that we give our all, all the time, to deepen your walk of faith and, more importantly, deepen you relationship with Christ. Application of this type of desire with diligence will insure our success.
The second aspect of our subject to consider is the concept of dedication. Dedication is fundamental to any successful endeavor in life, including spiritual development. Dedication is defined as the act of “devoting oneself wholly and earnestly to a specific goal or purpose”. If we are to improve our application of Christian principles of living we must dedicate ourselves to that specific aim.
Dedication is an act of the mind. We begin with a strong desire to improve our relationship with the Lord. We follow this by firmly dedicating ourselves to making this goal a reality in our lives. We can best do this by the use of affirmations. Affirmations are powerful, positive statements that we make to ourselves over and over again, thereby deeply impressing them into our subconscious mind. According to the discoveries of Cognitive and Transpersonal Psychology, it is those things that we deeply plant in our subconscious minds that actualize into physical reality in our lives. So, if our goal is to become closer to God, we begin by dedicating ourselves to the process. We do this not only in the conscious mind, but also in the subconscious.
Look at the process like this. Suppose a farmer wants to grow corn. He begins by preparing the field, then he carefully plants the seeds in the fertile ground, then waters and cares for the field so that, at harvest time, his yield of corn will be bountiful. Your conscious desire to deepen your Christian walk is the farmer. The affirmations are the seeds, and the subconscious mind is the field. Based on your desire, you use your conscious mind (the farmer), to plant the seeds (affirmations) into the fertile field (subconscious mind). You then water and nurture the field through constant repetition of your affirmations. Try the following: Each morning before you get out of bed, relax your breathing and repeat silently to yourself the following statement:
Every day, in every way,
I am getting closer and closer
During the day, at lunch- time for example, repeat this statement over and over to yourself. Each time that you repeat the statement you are not only planting more seeds, but you are also watering and nurturing the field of your subconscious mind. This is the way to insure success. It may sound simplistic and perhaps it is. That’s the beauty of positive thinking. It is simple! But in spite of its simplicity, it is a proven method of personal and spiritual transformation that has worked miracles in countless lives. Try it and see.
The keys to making successful affirmations are: repetition, faith, and expectancy. We need to repeat the affirmation many times and have faith in the process, a living expectancy that if we continue, we will surely succeed. The key again is repetition. Do it over and over again. In this way, your subconscious mind will be saturated with positive thoughts of dedication.
Keep It Simple!
This procedure that has also come to be known as affirmative prayer is a fairly straight forward process but, as with many things, we humans have a marked tendency to complicate it. I know this from past experience because I have been as guilty of exhibiting this “genius for complexity” as anyone – probably more than most. It was with some degree of difficulty that I eventually learned that with most things it is best to keep it simple. With this truth in mind, let’s see if we can simplify the basics of affirmative prayer by stating the following:
When we use our affirmative thinking, put into the containers which we call words, and animate it speaking with living faith, we are able to manifest that which we desire, providing of course, that it is in alignment with God’s will.
There is really no need to mystify the process any more than that. Granted, the underlying laws and cosmic principles associated with affirmative prayer can seem a bit mysterious, but in actuality, even the laws are not all that complicated.
It is essential that we understand that this process begins with our thinking and moves forward from there. Everything that we see began somewhere as someone’s thought. Creation in all its glory began as God’s thought and came into being at God’s command, using His words. He literally called things into existence from the world of the unseen, into the world of the seen. On a smaller scale, this is how we manifest reality as well. Our thoughts begin the process and or faith-filled words empower and animate the process that results in the creation of the thing desire.
Two important factors are also involved in the process of bringing our desired outcome down out of the spirit world and into concrete manifestation. These are emotion and intention. Centuries of working with these principles has revealed that the more deeply you feel about your desired goal, the more readily it manifests in physical reality. I have found that this is precisely where imagination comes into play. When we clearly visualize what it is we desire we arouse our feeling nature, which is a natural part of our soul. We facilitate this by focusing not only on repetition of our positive prayer, but we also form a clear, concise image of the desired outcome and bring our attention to bear on that outcome. We allow the feelings that arise to become magnified and these feelings, along with our thought, image, and faith-filled words form a powerful magnetic force that will pull our desired outcome out of the spirit world, where it already exists, down into physical reality.
Intention is perhaps the most important component of affirmative prayer. Your intention is what gathers and focuses your cognitive energy in a specific direction. It is for this precise reason that your intention must be constructed carefully and spoken clearly. This is not some sort of cosmic, New Age mumbo jumbo, but instead, is a fundamental principle of positive cognition. Your words of intention accomplish several vital functions in the process of affirmative prayer. First, speaking your intention gives direction to your energy and gives firm direction to your prayer. Second, your intention lets your subconscious mind know exactly what it wants to bring down from the spirit realm and why. And finally, your spoken words contain the power necessary to animate the unfolding of the process of affirmative prayer. As stated before, your words, especially when joined to a vital foundation of faith, serve as a magnet to attract the very thing you desire.
So keep these two aspects of affirmative prayer before you at all times. Positive emotion amplifies the power of your prayer and positive intention supplies even more punch to the process. Without these two vital aspects of prayer, you may find your prayers unfocused, impotent, and ineffective.
Here at LifeBrook we conduct a training program entitled, “Conscious Cognition,” which is basically the capacity to be acutely aware of what we are thinking on a consistent basis. It has as its goal the honing of our ability to recognize negative thoughts the moment they arise and take those thoughts captive. Rather than climbing aboard our negative “train of thought,” we never allow it to leave the station. Instead, through the development of our capacity for conscious cognition, we replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. At first this process will seem quite cumbersome and highly unnatural. This is to be expected because we have been thinking in unproductive ways for many years. It takes time to delete this negative process from our memory banks and reprogram our minds to think along positive avenues. Persistence and patience are the keys. Keep at it and you will eventually find that you are responding to life in a healthier, more optimistic manner.
Another key principle when using affirmative prayer can be expressed this way: use frequent repetition in present tense. Your patterns of negative thinking and behaving were not formed overnight. Instead, these unhealthy thoughts were repeated over and over again until they were firmly planted in your subconscious mind. Once that happened, these damaging thought patterns seemed to have developed a life of their own. This same principle of repetition, however, can also be utilized to your benefit. First, understand that positive thoughts are more powerful than negative thoughts. Formal research and well as the experience of countless pilgrims who have used these methods of cognitive reprogramming have confirmed the fact that one positive thought can counteract many negative ones, provided the positive thought is constructed in the present tense and is repeated many times.
The principles we have discussed here are basic but essential to the process of creating and using affirmative prayers. As stated at the outset, these principles are not overly complicated, unless of course we choose to make them so. My suggestion is that you study the relevant literature available on affirmative prayer, positive thinking, positive imaging, and the Law of Attraction. By doing so you can deepen your understanding of what is going on when you utilize affirmative prayer as a part of your spiritual path. However, don’t let your studies lead you into any unnecessary confusion or complexity. Above all:
Keep it simple!
(c) L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved