Root meaning: Asking God. Communicating with or communing with God.
Conventional. Asking God to supply us with external things, people, conditions, and events that we think will protect us and satisfy us. According to the Course, these are prayers not to God but to our idols.
ACIM: Asking God for the healing of the mind (our own or that of others) and for the revelation of His Presence. All prayers are answered, except when we ask for what would hurt us (see T-9.I.10:1), or when we are afraid to receive the answer (see T-9.I.1-2). We must ask in confidence, asking merely to accept what we already have. For this reason, the prayers in the Course are generally affirmative statements and never contain the word “please.” The Course considers the various statements it asks us to repeat in the Workbook lessons or in the Text to be prayers. What is important is not the words of our prayers but the “prayer of the heart” (M-21.1:3). It is perfectly all right to pray to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the Christ. However, the Course’s prayers are generally addressed to God. God does not hear our words, but our prayers in some sense do reach Him through the Holy Spirit (see T-15.VIII.5:5). Prayer can serve different functions:
- “Prayer is the medium of miracles” (T-1.I.11), which means that through prayer we receive the love, the healing, which we extend to others in the miracle. We must truly ask for this healing with the prayer of our heart, and not merely with our words (see M-21.1-3).
- Most of the Course’s prayers ask for the healing of our own minds, ask to accept forgiveness (in some form) into our minds (see T-3.V.6).
- The prayers in Part II of the Workbook are meant to be invitations to God to come and give us the experience of oneness with Him (see W-pII.In.3:3, 4:6).
- In the Course itself, prayer does not occur in Heaven. However, in the Song of Prayer supplement, prayer occurs not only in the separated state, but in Heaven. There, it is no longer asking, but is formless communion with God, an eternal song of love (see song of Heaven) we sing to God and He sings to us (see S-1.In.1).