Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the Weeks of January 3 & 10, 2022


Prayer 

(Fourth Way Practice: 8)

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Every religion is built on love, unmitigated, universal love. The ultimate aim of prayer is to enter that love. That oneness allows the Sacred to transform and transmit energies through us, to be present through us, to sense through our body, see through our eyes, and feel through our heart. This comes about through the purification and integration of our will, and through the transformation, blending, and organization of energies in our being. While the methods used for these lines of inner work vary across spiritual paths, those of the Fourth Way are particularly effective and comprehensive. Through it all, the practice of prayer in any of its forms can almost be an entire path itself: the path of prayer.

Since ancient times, prayer has been part of the Fourth Way. It reminds every aspect of the path of its true purpose. At the lower end of practices, we relax, accept ourselves, and sense our bodies. At the higher end, we open our innermost soul to the Sacred through prayer. In between, we take prayer as it comes, as it calls to us.

That may be as a petition, asking the Sacred for help, perhaps very specific help. The more heartfelt and urgent such prayers are, the greater their effect on us. Sometimes such prayers are answered in ways we can recognize, though those ways are often unexpected.

Participation in prayer rituals is another way in. We become part of a group, not only as the current set of participants, but also connected with all those, including ourselves, who have enacted the ritual in the past and who will do so in the future. A ritual may occur in a particular place and moment, but it can transcend both. That eternal quality of a ritual derives from its purpose, which reaches beyond space and time toward and in service to the Sacred. Such communal prayer can carry us beyond ourselves. Along with innumerable religious rituals, certain of the Gurdjieff movements belong to this category of prayer.

Regular, personal, religious prayer, wherein we repeat pre-set prayers, usually formulated by others and long ago, can become our own private ritual. Without the benefit of the prayer community, this calls us to offer the right attitude of awe, love, and devotion from ourselves, from the whole of ourselves.

In both communal and private prayer rituals, continuing participation leads us to realize that the outer form of the ritual, though important, serves primarily to usher us inwardly into the precincts of the Sacred. Such rituals open the door to the Light, or at least show us that there is a door.

A further step inward in prayer practice brings us to contemplation, turning toward the Sacred in silence, inner and outer silence. For this we sit quietly. We orient our mind and heart toward the Sacred and stay with that orientation. We let ourselves be drawn in that direction and be open to receive from it. The Great Attractor invites us inward, beyond our senses, beyond our thoughts and emotions, into the Purity. In contemplation or contemplative prayer, we may inwardly repeat a particular prayer, or a simple phrase, or a sacred melody. The key is that it be something that touches us deeply, as a beggar before God. We let that reverberate throughout our being, attuning us to the Sacred. A moment may come where we recognize the need to drop the repetition and just be in that space beyond space, in that time beyond time.

And that brings us to the prayer of no prayer. We let go of any attempt or intention to shape our experience in any way. This is a total stop, non-doing. Not my will, but thine. Emptying and allowing. Not even being ourselves. Not being anything. Just being. Just being available. Standing before the ineffable.

For this week, please reinvigorate your own prayer practice.


     

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