By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Why visualization and the law of attraction may bring you garbage.
Whatever you may call it, the process of expressing things to our Higher Power and then waiting for an answer gets extremely misunderstood.
People tell me “God does not answer my prayers.” I also hear the law of attraction does not work or that visualization stuff is bunk. Let’s consider those possibilities.
Whatever terminology makes you comfortable with this discussion is OK by me. For ease of my writing this out, from here on in I am going to call it prayer. You can translate that into some other vocabulary if that works better for you. I will also use God and He or Him to refer to this Higher Power. If you understand your higher power as She or Them, please talk with your higher power, not me, about that.
We get a whole lot more answers to prayer than we realize. They just weren’t the answers we wanted and expected. Let me give you an example.
See a problem with this prayer?
A man new to recovery prays earnestly one night. “God, please give me a better paying job, lots of money, a new car, a nicer house and a more attractive wife, and I will need this by Friday night when the class reunion occurs.
The AA Big Book refers to this something like being a greedy child on Santa’s lap at Christmas. That is not the way we should pray.
We are told to pray for “Knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”
You can reframe that as finding your life’s purpose and then living your life that ways if you chose. (I need to stop doing those reframes.)
1. The first possible answer to any prayer is NO!
There will be lots of “things” in your life you might ask for and you will not get them. You may pray for God to let someone live and they die. This does not mean that you are a bad person or God hates you. (My higher power loves me and everyone else unconditionally; he may not belong to that kill them all and let me sort it out club.) Getting a NO does not mean that your higher power is cruel.
There were reasons why you got a NO, I don’t know what they are, you may not know why, but then you might want to go on living your life the best you can and see if you can figure that one out.
2. The answer may be yes.
Sometimes my higher power heals sick people. I do not know why he heals some and not others. Praying in this case and the resulting healing could just be coincidences but some of the stories I have heard tell me there might be another, more spiritual reason for this healing.
My higher power does, however, help a whole lot of Alcoholics, addicts and mentally ill people if they are willing to do a little work on themselves. Why this Higher Power has such a decided interest in the addicted and the mentally ill, I cannot say, but I am firmly convinced that a Higher Power of some kind is a part of the recovery process.
3. The answer to your prayer may well be “Not now, you need to wait.”
Very often we need to keep praying over a long time, all the while doing the required work in order to bring a result into tangible form. Those of you who believe in the “Power of Positive Thinking” can ascribe this to repeatedly placing the thought in your subconscious.
Personally, I do not hold much faith in the subconscious. I know about the conscious and about being unconscious. Like subliminal advertising, I think anything worth doing is worth doing in a conscious manner. The subconscious is part of another discussion; now back to our prayer in progress.
That third answer, you need to wait, some of us get that confused with the NO one. It would be easy to give up on the conversation at this point and say God never answers my prayers. This is why it is important to not only talk with your higher power but to also listen carefully to what he is saying.
One way of listening to a higher power is to meditate. There are other words that can be used to this process of listening to your Higher Powers voice like “still small voice.” I will let you translate this one as needed.
These first three ways God might answer prayer seem pretty obvious but number four – well hold on to your hats.
4. You want what?
I do not know about any of your Higher Powers out there but mine clearly has a sense of humor. Sometimes God gives us what we ask for, all the while knowing we won’t like it when we get it.
We get this answer to our prayers when there is a spiritual lesson that we need to learn.
For example, say you prayed “God help me get this job” just before you go for the interview. Then you get the job. A few weeks into this new job you start discovering things about what you will be doing that are most distressing. You may have been moved across the country or overseas. You may be trapped and unable to afford the move back home.
This “You want what?” can also apply to love objects and friends. Sometimes we want an important person to like us and then find out that they are no one we want in our lives. Being popular with the in crowd, may not lead to spiritual enlightenment. It may lead us a whole lot of places we wished we hadn’t gone.
This possible answer to prayer is why that “Praying only for knowledge of his will for us” part is included. We don’t always know what is best for us.
So have you used prayer or something like it? Has it helped in your life journey?
What is next on this road to a happy life? Stay tuned and we shall see.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.