Praying Made Easy. 11. To Strengthen Faith

The desire — or the need! — to strengthen faith may seem contradictory to the meaning of faith. If faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”, why would we need to strengthen it?

Phoebe Snow's Shakey Ground

Strengthen Faith on Shaky Ground

Don’t know about you, but sometimes my faith feels like it’s “standin’ on shaky ground”. (Thank you, Phoebe Snow.) Why do I feel that way? Not sure I can explain it logically, and maybe faith and logic haven’t that much in common.

I surmise that my ego chooses to undermine my faith in Oneness by offering me doubt. And the saplings of doubt may only project what might go wrong, what might not come true. They may not have already grown to full blown doubts. Still, they give cause to my desire to strengthen my faith.

At times like these, strengthening my faith has been my target…and probably will be again:

Think of times you’ve had. Situations you’ve not looked forward to. Bring them clearly to your mind. I mean clearly. Take some deep breaths and don’t rush through this. Feel the doubt or fear or concern. Look at it. Hear its sounds. Pick it up to see how heavy it is.

Now, select a very real, very physical image for your faith. I suggest something like a box or a tarpaulin or a burlap bag. You probably get the idea. See it clearly. You are creating it in your mind (and heart), so make it as big as you need it to be. Big enough to completely hold, cover, smother your doubts.

A Prayer to Strengthen Faith

We believe in God because we believe in ourselves.
Our belief in ourselves is as great as our belief in God.
And our faith is even bigger. Belief is of our mind;
faith is from our hearts.
Sweet Spirit, we have your power as our power.
That is the power to wrap our doubts, no matter what they are,
no matter how large or scary they may be,
in the tarpaulin that is our faith. Or to stuff them into the box
whose sides and cover are boards of our faith.
We may drop doubts in the burlap bag woven tight with faith
and with a strong drawstring: more faith.
We conceal the doubts, the fears, the concerns that we may
readily and easily throw them away. Let them disappear
into the nothingness that is not our faith in Spirit.
And so it is as we strengthen our faith. And so we thank you!

Love and blessings,
Tim

30 January 2018

Posted on January 30, 2018 at 5:15 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Prayer

Praying Made Easy. 10. Get Past Fear.

Get Past Fear

Get Past Fear by Photo by Brad Barmore on Unsplash

Sometimes we have to get past fear. Often fear stands between us and our desire to get something done. More than occasionally fear prevents our accomplishing something. Or proving something to ourselves.

I admit to each of those, “Too often!” I feel the fear that I may not do well enough or I may make mistakes. My fear causes me to put off the doing. That procrastination produces stress. I’ll spare you the symptoms my stress produces.

This applies to tasks I may have requiring that I use new systems at work. It gets between me and taking on some kind of writing I’m not comfortable with. It even shows up in little tasks like putting up the outdoor Christmas lights.

In none of those instances is the fear well-founded. It rarely is in any situation. l can learn the new system. I don’t have to write perfectly (or even very well) the first time I try. I have put up the lights — to compliments from Cindy, neighbors, and guests — for several years now.

So what does it take to get past fear? Well, first let’s pay attention to the infinitive phrase “to get past.” You don’t want to ignore the fear. You ought not turn away to avoid the fear. Only by moving to-then-through (or under, around or over) the fear will you put it behind you. Once it is behind you, it ceases to matter to you. And so it ceases to be.

How do you get past fear?

Sure praying is a key. However, it matters that you take part in the prayer. Not just asking, “Please, God, take away my fear.” Consider that it might feel better to pray, “Spirit, I will work with you to get past this fear.”

I have scoped out these simple steps as effective for me. You’re welcome to any or all of them.

Praying to Get Past Fear

Spirit and Protector,
I am glad to partner with you to get past a fear I have.
I know that when I name the fear and see it shrink before me
the fear becomes meaningless. It becomes nothing.
God, I am grateful for the awareness that fear is no more real
than I allow it to be. I deny then that it is real at all.
I move past the fear and know it disappears
in my consciousness’s rear-view mirror.
And so it is and I am thankful!
Amen.

Love and blessings,
Tim

 

 

10 January 2018

Posted on January 10, 2018 at 5:45 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Authenticity, God, Peace, Power, Prayer, Praying, Strength · Tagged with: , , , ,

Praying Made Easy. 9. Look Forward with Faith

Looking Forward with Faith

Looking Forward with Faith
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Three months out of college, I had a chance to look forward with faith. I began my teaching career at Oak Ridge (NC) Military Academy. I was able to say with absolute confidence and truth: “This is going to be my best year teaching.” And it was—the best year I had ever had as a teacher.

My second year teaching was at Greensboro (NC) Day School. Two weeks before my new assignment, I called out my familiar mantra: This is going to be my best year teaching.

And it was. Better than every other year, which was only one, the one before.

I should have felt I was on a success roll. However, my third year and the next ten years, I taught in Westport, CT. As the late August start day approached, I recalled my affirmation. But when I said it, it felt flat. I let it fall flat. I surrounded “This is going to by my best year….” with numerous doubts.

It was only my third year so “best” didn’t mean so much. I wasn’t familiar with public school systems. I’d never lived north of Virginia, and I’d never been to Connecticut. I had trouble with my promise to look forward with faith.

By October I realized my doubts were preventing me from having my third best year in a row. The new teacher struggled. I doubted my lesson plans. My classes were too rigid for anyone to enjoy, including me. I was too defensive to trust my own ability or for the kids to trust my ability.

Then one weekend in October a good friend from North Carolina called. He met my hello with the immediate question, “So, are you having your third best year in a row?”

We talked. He was quick to remind me I’d had “best years” because I was faithful that I would. “Say it again. This time, mean it.”

As we enter 2018, we have the opportunity to give in to doubt about this year’s greatness. We can yield to the fear that the trials of 2017 will continue.

And we have the even greater opportunity to foresee this year as outstanding. Looking forward with faith for each of my 13 years teaching let me discover the truth. The truth that every year was better than the ones before. The truth that believing it was to be made it all the easier for me to turn can do into will do.

Consider please:

Prayer to Look Forward with Faith

I recognize Spirit I am is truly Spirit.
That allows me to know that my faith is faith that I AM.
Faith that I AM is faith that I can be, can do, can achieve
whatever I want, for I am co-creator with Spirit.
Although time is without meaning except in our daily lives,
our human work and play, we celebrate the opportunity
to refresh our look ahead, our faith
as we enter the new year.
We can look forward with faith in the eternal Good
that Spirit is and so are we.
And so it is. And so we let it be–with faith.
Amen.

Love and blessings,
Tim

 

 

3 January 2018

Posted on January 3, 2018 at 5:16 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Affirmation, Faith, Inner Peace, Prayer, Praying · Tagged with: , ,

Praying Made Easy. 8. Peace beyond the Storm

Peace beyond the Storm

Peace beyond the Storm
Photo by robbertdb on Unsplash

Most of us eagerly look forward to peace beyond the storm of 2017. This year has been stormy, literally and figuratively. It has been anything but peaceful. A cauldron of politics, storms, fires, anger & terror(ism). Stirred together then brought to a simmer, if not at times a boil.

In 2001 or 2002, I discovered Tim Bays at a National Speakers Association convention. I bought his CD, Everyday Magic. It is my go-to music whenever I want/need a powerful boost. And a smile or two.

So, it’s a chilly gray morning. I’m hunkered at a nicely redecorated Starbucks. I am forethinking the coming year. My mind rephrases the Beatles’ lyric to “Got to admit it must get better…”. And I recalled Tim Bays’ sweet song, “Peace Beyond the Storm”.

His lyrics offer several metaphoric troubles. It’s the refrain, of course, that is so strong, overcoming bad metaphor with good one. I realize the refrain is true as Bays’ words remind me that there will always be

Peace beyond the storm,
blue above the clouds,
a calm beneath the waves that come crashing down.

I especially like that he takes in all aspects of the storm: sky, sea, and the ensuing fear. And he suggests, “Just try a little faith and trust that if you see it through, there is peace beyond the storm…

It is still gray and damp and cold outside. My cafe latte’s done. I’m smiling thanks that I can grasp (more than) a little faith and trust. I grasp them with these reminders:

Prayer to Know Peace beyond the Storm

Power and Presence and Peace,
thank you for the constant and eternal reminders
we can find in so many places and in so many ways
that no matter what seems bad and no matter how bad it seems,
it is not always. It isn’t all ways.
You let us know, if we but remember, that no matter how dark the night,
Annie is right: The sun will come out tomorrow.
We are free to recall and to realize that for whatever bad
we experience,
there are dozens of goods.
You bless us with the certainty, if we just let ourselves know
it is Truth, that you are always with us
for we are your creation and therefore you exist
within us as we exist in you.
No storm is endless. There is always peace at hand.
Thank you, God! Amen.

Love and blessings,
Tim

 

 

28 December 2017

Posted on December 29, 2017 at 5:16 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Affirmation, Authenticity, Belief, Faith, Peace, Prayer · Tagged with: , , ,