II. The Answer to Prayer 1-6
- Everyone whoever tried to use prayer to ask for something has experienced what appears to be failure. This is not only true in connection with specific things that might be harmful, but also in connection with requests that are strictly in line with this course. The latter in particular might be incorrectly interpreted as proof that the course does not mean what it says. You must remember, however, that the course states, and repeatedly, that its purpose is the escape from fear.
- Let us suppose, then, that what you ask of the Holy Spirit is what you really want, but you are still afraid of it. Should this be the case, your attainment of it would no longer be what you want. This is why certain specific forms of healing are not achieved, even when the state of healing is. An individual may ask for physical healing because he is fearful of bodily harm. At the same time, if he were healed physically, the threat to his thought system might be considerably more fearful to him than its physical expression. In this case he is not really asking for release from fear, but for the removal of a symptom that he himself selected. This request is, therefore, not for healing at all.
- The Bible emphasizes that all prayer is answered, and this is indeed true. The very fact that the Holy Spirit has been asked anything will ensure a response. Yet it is equally certain that no response given by Him be one that would increase fear. It is possible that His answer will not be heard. It is impossible, however, that it will be lost. There are many answers you have already received but have not yet heard. I assure you that they are waiting for you.
- If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself. If you would know God and His answer, believe in me whose faith in you cannot be shaken. Can you ask of the Holy Spirit truly, and doubt your brother? Believe his words are true because of the truth that is in him. You will unite with the truth in him, and his words will be true. As you hear him you will hear me. Listening to truth is the only way you can hear it now, and finally know it.
- The message your brother gives you is up to you. What does he say to you? What would you have him say? Your decision about him determines the message you receive. Remember that the Holy Spirit is in him, and His Voice speaks to you through him. What can so holy a brother tell you except truth? But are you listening to it? Your brother may not know who he is, but there is a light in his mind that does know. This light can shine into yours, giving truth to his words and making you able to hear them. His words are the Holy Spirit’s answer to you. Is your faith in him strong enough to let you hear?
- You can no more pray for yourself alone then you can find joy for yourself alone. Prayer is the restatement of inclusion, directed by the Holy Spirit under the laws of God. Salvation is of your brother. The Holy Spirit extends from your mind to his and answers you. You cannot hear the voice for God in yourself alone because you are not alone. And his answer is only for what you are. You will not know the trust I have in you unless you extend it. You will not trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit or believe that it is for you unless you hear it in others. It must be for your brother because it is for you. Would God have created a voice for you alone? Could you hear His answer except as He answers all of God’s Sons? Hear of your brother what you would have me hear of you, for you would not want me to be deceived. 
The purpose of this Course is the escape from fear. We do not escape from fear by having all of our prayers answered because many of our prayers are based upon our ego’s need for specialness. Several years ago, a coworker announced at the lunch break table that she enjoyed a very special relationship with God. God answered every single one of her prayers, she claimed. Me and the rest of the group were more than a little taken aback because for as long as we knew her she had been and continued to be swamped in ongoing health, money, and relationship woes. Nearly every encounter with Karen revolved around her complaints about her unhappy marriage, uncontrolled spending, kids in and out of jail and rehab, and the rare and mysterious maladies that had no known cure that plagued her family. While Karen is a lovely woman completely undeserving of all that had befallen her, she did not seem to be a sterling example of someone who had an in with God!
Using Karen as an example, let’s look at paragraph two. Karen asks the Lord for a faithful husband, healing from an ongoing assortment of physical ailments, and for her grown children to take responsibility for their lives and stop draining her finances. How could she be afraid of what she wants? Isn’t this what everyone wants?
Only if Karen does not feel worthy of a faithful doting husband, good health, and self-supporting, responsible grown children could we agree that Karen’s prayers are always answered in the form that makes her most comfortable and adheres with her thought system. When she claims to have a special relationship with a God Who answers all her prayers she may very well be asking for exactly what she is most comfortable in having. Karen wants specialness. As long as Karen’s husband and kids are not so special, she gets to be special. She is the one that endures them for God. This goes along with a religious belief system that sacrifices love, peace, and joy for a sense of duty, fear of God, and suffering.
Jesus claims that all prayer is answered – ask and it will be given. No request is ever lost. There are three seeming qualifications, however. We will be given nothing that makes us afraid. We may not hear the response to our prayer. We may have received the answer, but it is on hold until we are ready for it.
As I looked at paragraph four today and asked the Lord to show me what it meant, I thought of Karen and her constant complaints about her cheating husband, her bad kids, her failing health. I thought of my own prayers and the seeming lack of response from God in a few areas. If we are to receive what we pray for, we are to remove all doubt from our mind about ourselves and each other. We are to believe in Jesus who has complete and unshaken faith in us. We cannot ask anything of Holy Spirit if we have doubt about those we pray for. When we ask for fidelity from those who have been unfaithful, we are to believe he is capable of faithfulness, even though all we have known of him says otherwise. When we pray for God to heal our finances, we must believe that we are worthy of abundance, that we will know the difference between wants and needs, that we will not spend money that we do not have. When we pray for health and healing, we are to believe we are worthy of healing, that we are able to adopt healthful practices and avoid that which promotes illness and disease. We are to believe in what our healers, medical or otherwise, prescribe to us with no doubt or fear. When we pray for our children to be decent, upright, and good, we are to have no doubts in their abilities and efforts put forth in that direction.
In other words we are to put our minds toward what we ask of Holy Spirit. We are to cooperate with what we ask God for. When I ask for a faithful partner, I do not ruminate upon his past flings and try to garner sympathy or tarnish his name by sharing his weaknesses in this particular area with everybody I know. I believe in his strength, I believe in his love, I believe in his truth. When I unite with the truth in my partner, what he says will be true. As I hear him, I will hear Jesus. Listening to truth is the only way we can hear it in the realm of perception and finally know it. We find the answer to every request in recognizing the truth in one another. We cannot ask the Holy Spirit truly and turn around to doubt His response in our brother.
In paragraph five, Jesus gives us more information on how our fellows play a part in our own healing and the healing of the world. Here we are compelled to take responsibility for what our brothers tell us – what they tell us in their words, deeds, and attitudes toward us. In the world, we do not take responsibility for what our brothers tell us. We take what they say and do and react to our perception of what they are saying and doing. When our mates go astray, we say that they have disrespected us, that they do not find us worthy of faithfulness, that we are not exciting or attractive to them anymore. We grow sad and angry.
In the case of Karen she was a lot of both. Incensed, she would stalk her husband’s girlfriends, telling their husbands or boyfriends what they were up to, blasting them on Facebook, and making public their indiscretions. She was proud of her vengeance, her cleverness at sleuthing out the hurtful escapades, and the stunts she pulled on the adulterers. She was also sad, often unable to work in her grief, seeking sympathy from her co-workers and friends who assured her how beautiful and shapely she was and how easy it would be for her to find another man. The same story was repeated with her kids, health, and money woes. No matter what anyone suggested to her in the way of help, she claimed that it was all in God’s hands and she could count on Him. But it was not in God’s hands because instead of creating love, peace, and joy she seemed to draw out the worst in all of us.
When Karen was around, people were afraid to talk about the fun times they had with their mates and kids, their good health, engagements, and the new things they bought or vacations they planned because she would make snide remarks, warn them against marriage, relate gory childbirth stories to those who were expecting, and claim she could not remember the last time she had a break.
While I grew as weary as everyone else with Karen’s ongoing melodrama, I did a few things right in that I continued to talk about the good things in my life whether she liked it or not. I pointed out that just because I had absolutely nothing to complain about, did not mean that I did not have a right to share my joy. Sharing joy gives other people the “permission” to share joy. When we begin to share joy with one another, we tap into the light in our minds that recognizes our blessings and makes them known. We get off the downward spiral of only seeing the negative. Simply by refusing to join in the clubby, cliquish martyr club and speaking of that which fills us with joy and gratitude is a way to let the light in an otherwise dark and dire situation.
Sharing my joy with Karen and refusing to join in the pity-poor-Karen group was the best thing that I could have done at that time. My decision about Karen determined the message that I received from her. I did not believe the bad report that God was in any responsible for her suffering or that she had a special relationship with God, but I did believe that the answer to her prayer was waiting for her to recognize it and accept it. Going through this period with Karen and her public airings of grievances and hardships, was a good opportunity for me to recognize the more private and subconscious ways in which I was hindering the answers to my own prayers for spiritual growth, for overcoming antagonism toward those who disappoint and offend me, and other seemingly wrong-minded conceptions and practices that caused my mind to build cases rather than extend God’s Kingdom.
Instead of a person I remember with a sense of dread, I now remember Karen as part of the Sonship, as an equal teacher and student on our path to God. We are here to remind each other what we really are, for only when we recognize ourselves in each other can we receive the answer to our prayers. At the end of paragraph five Jesus assures us that what we learn from our brother is the answer we get to our prayers.
This is a wonderful message. My prayer is that it rings true in our hearts and minds and we are motivated to be open to ways to put this into practice. It is all too easy to pinpoint the personal failings, spiritual dim-wittedness, and shortcomings of others, but until we realize that our brothers are telling us the truth about us, can we remove the obstructions that are hindering us from recognizing Holy Spirit’s answer to our prayer.
The very nature of prayer is one of inclusion. There is no room for any ideas of specialness for Holy Spirit operates under the unified and equal laws of God. We find our salvation in our brothers and it is of utmost importance that we accept the salvation of all. Only when we see our brother as saved, can we be saved. We cannot use our salvation, our belief system, our holy practices as a way to divide the Sonship – only to extend it. When we think we have a special relationship with God and we make monsters of those who are weak, who falter, who fail to live up to their promise, we are not extending God’s Kingdom, we are denying ourselves opportunities for practicing our salvation, for learning what we need to learn about our own need for complete freedom from the perceptual world. Believing in the name of Jesus is a trite interpretation of the gospel but practicing the mind of Christ is the salvation of the world for it eradicates all that is false and untrue and lets in the light that frees us from division and death to our true union with God.
We cannot learn to trust the guidance of Holy Spirit until we learn to lay down our defenses against our brothers and trust in the equal and just Voice for God in each and every one of us. God would not give me a holy spirit and give you, my brother, that which is not holy. Our function then is to recognize Holy Spirit within everybody and relate to that and only that.
We will end today’s blog with paragraph six and complete this section in the next post. Today ask God to illuminate your mind so that you can grasp the meaning of this section. We may have resistance to these concepts because the world would tell us that we do not find salvation or truth in our brothers, but only in the name of Jesus. However Jesus tells us to see beyond the perceptions of our flesh eyes and listen and hear what our brothers are really asking of us and telling us. Just as we depend upon Jesus to look past our own misconceptions and give us what we truly want and need, so are we to relate only to the truth in others.
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 9 The acceptance of the atonement. II The answer to prayer 1-6. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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