ACIM Reading for November 12
1.- II. The Ladder of Prayer1. Prayer has no beginning and no end. It is a part of life. But it does change in form, and grow with learning until it reaches its formless state, and fuses into total communication with God. In its asking form it need not, and often does not, make appeal to God, or even involve belief in Him. At these levels prayer is merely wanting, out of a sense of scarcity and lack.
2. These forms of prayer, or asking-out-of-need, always involve feelings of weakness and inadequacy, and could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is. No one, then, who is sure of his Identity could pray in these forms. Yet it is also true that no one who is uncertain of his Identity can avoid praying in this way. And prayer is as continual as life. Everyone prays without ceasing. Ask and you have received, for you have established what it is you want.
3. It is also possible to reach a higher form of asking-out-of-need, for in this world prayer is reparative, and so it must entail levels of learning. Here, the asking may be addressed to God in honest belief, though not yet with understanding. A vague and usually unstable sense of identification has generally been reached, but tends to be blurred by a deep-rooted sense of sin. It is possible at this level to continue to ask for things of this world in various forms, and it is also possible to ask for gifts such as honesty or goodness, and particularly for forgiveness for the many sources of guilt that inevitably underlie any prayer of need. Without guilt there is no scarcity. The sinless have no needs.
4. At this level also comes that curious contradiction in terms known as “praying for one’s enemies.” The contradiction lies not in the actual words, but rather in the way in which they are usually interpreted. While you believe you have enemies, you have limited prayer to the laws of this world, and have also limited your ability to receive and to accept to the same narrow margins. And yet, if you have enemies you have need of prayer, and great need, too. What does the phrase really mean? Pray for yourself, that you may not seek to imprison Christ and thereby lose the recognition of your own Identity. Be traitor to no one, or you will be treacherous to yourself.
5. An enemy is the symbol of an imprisoned Christ. And who could He be except yourself? The prayer for enemies thus becomes a prayer for your own freedom. Now it is no longer a contradiction in terms. It has become a statement of the unity of Christ and a recognition of His sinlessness. And now it has become holy, for it acknowledges the Son of God as he was created.
6. Let it never be forgotten that prayer at any level is always for yourself. If you unite with anyone in prayer, you make him part of you. The enemy is you, as is the Christ. Before it can become holy, then, prayer becomes a choice. You do not choose for another. You can but choose for yourself. Pray truly for your enemies, for herein lies your own salvation. Forgive them for your sins, and you will be forgiven indeed.
7. Prayer is a ladder reaching up to Heaven. At the top there is a transformation much like your own, for prayer is part of you. The things of earth are left behind, all unremembered. There is no asking, for there is no lack. Identity in Christ is fully recognized as set forever, beyond all change and incorruptible. The light no longer flickers, and will never go out. Now, without needs of any kind, and clad forever in the pure sinlessness that is the gift of God to you, His Son, prayer can again become what it was meant to be. For now it rises as a song of thanks to your Creator, sung without words, or thoughts, or vain desires, unneedful now of anything at all. So it extends, as it was meant to do. And for this giving God Himself gives thanks.
8. God is the goal of every prayer, giving it timelessness instead of end. Nor has it a beginning, because the goal has never changed. Prayer in its earlier forms is an illusion, because there is no need for a ladder to reach what one has never left. Yet prayer is part of forgiveness as long as forgiveness, itself an illusion, remains unattained. Prayer is tied up with learning until the goal of learning has been reached. And then all things will be transformed together, and returned unblemished into the Mind of God. Being beyond learning, this state cannot be described. The stages necessary to its attainment, however, need to be understood, if peace is to be restored to God’s Son, who lives now with the illusion of death and the fear of God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 12
All gifts I give my brothers are my own.
As every gift my brothers give is mine, so every gift I give belongs to me. Each one allows a past mistake to go, and leave no shadow on the holy mind my Father loves. His grace is given me in every gift a brother has received throughout all time, and past all time as well. My treasure house is full, and angels watch its open doors that not one gift is lost, and only more are added. Let me come to where my treasures are, and enter in where I am truly welcome and at home, among the gifts that God has given me.
Father, I would accept Your gifts today. I do not recognize them. Yet I trust that You Who gave them will provide the means by which I can behold them, see their worth, and cherish only them as what I want.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #875: I seem to be the target of a special hate relationship with my ex-partner, the father of my infant child. A previous relationship is a major factor in this situation. Even though I send my love and pray for forgiveness of myself and my ex-partner, I still see no proof of healing our relationship in the world of form. I send him love in my actions and words; I make no demands on him; but he has made no effort to see his child. How do I deal with this pain? How do I overcome someone who is hating me, despite my love for him?
A: A key part of forgiveness involves trying to let go of the need to have the other person change. This is extremely difficult, as most students would testify — especially in the kind of situation you have described. The pain must be intense at times, with many regrets about the past. But what would truly help everyone, including your daughter, is for you to be at peace, which means seeing this situation as a classroom with Jesus as your teacher. The curriculum is the external circumstances, and the lesson is that the peace within your mind cannot be disturbed by what has happened. The importance of learning this lesson — which is a process that takes time — is that all of your thinking and actions would then come from that center of peace and love, and you would no longer be preoccupied with the outcome. You would continue to function in your roles as mother, etc., but with less tension and anxiety.
This is quite different from sending love and praying for your ex-partner to let go of his hatred toward you so he will be a part of your daughter’s life. From the world’s point of view that would seem to be the best and only solution. Yet, from the perspective of our Atonement paths, we really don’t know that. So what would help you most is a willingness to let go of your judgments and your investment in having him change. True forgiveness is not between two people perceived as separate. It has to do only with the relationship in your mind between you and your ego. Shifting that allegiance is really your purpose in life; and through the Holy Spirit’s eyes your current situation can be seen as a means of doing that. This does not mean that you would be indifferent to your daughter’s needs or your own; it just means that you would approach the situation differently — not from the perspective of victims and victimizers, but from the perspective of people caught up in the ego thought system, looking for a way out of it. A giant first step for you, then, is to trust that by no longer wanting your ex to change, you are freeing yourself to be guided by the love that knows what is in everyone’s best interests.