ACIM Reading for November 19
The Song of Prayer
2.- III. Forgiveness-for-Salvation
1. Forgiveness-for-Salvation has one form, and only one. It does not ask for proof of innocence, nor pay of any kind. It does not argue, nor evaluate the errors that it wants to overlook. It does not offer gifts in treachery, nor promise freedom while it asks for death. Would God deceive you? He but asks for trust and willingness to learn how to be free. He gives His Teacher to whoever asks, and seeks to understand the Will of God. His readiness to give lies far beyond your understanding and your simple grasp. Yet He has willed you learn the way to Him, and in His willing there is certainty.
2. You child of God, the gifts of God are yours, not by your plans but by His holy Will. His Voice will teach you what forgiveness is, and how to give it as He wills it be. Do not, then, seek to understand what is beyond you yet, but let it be a way to draw you up to where the eyes of Christ become the sight you choose. Give up all else, for there is nothing else. When someone calls for help in any form, He is the One to answer for you. All that you need do is to step back and not to interfere. Forgiveness-for-Salvation is His task, and it is He Who will respond for you.
3. Do not establish what the form should be that Christ’s forgiveness takes. He knows the way to make of every call a help to you, as you arise in haste to go at last unto your Father’s house. Now can He make your footsteps sure, your words sincere; not with your own sincerity, but with His Own. Let Him take charge of how you would forgive, and each occasion then will be to you another step to Heaven and to peace.
4. Are you not weary of imprisonment? God did not choose this sorry path for you. What you have chosen still can be undone, for prayer is merciful and God is just. His is a justice He can understand, but you cannot as yet. Still will He give the means to you to learn of Him, and know at last that condemnation is not real and makes illusions in its evil name. And yet it matters not the form that dreams may seem to take. Illusions are untrue. God’s Will is truth, and you are one with Him in Will and purpose. Here all dreams are done.
5. “What should I do for him, Your holy Son?” should be the only thing you ever ask when help is needed and forgiveness sought. The form the seeking takes you need not judge. And let it not be you who sets the form in which forgiveness comes to save God’s Son. The light of Christ in him is his release, and it is this that answers to his call. Forgive him as the Christ decides you should, and be His eyes through which you look on him, and speak for Him as well. He knows the need; the question and the answer. He will say exactly what to do, in words that you can understand and you can also use. Do not confuse His function with your own. He is the Answer. You the one who hears.
6. And what is it He speaks to you about? About salvation and the gift of peace. About the end of sin and guilt and death. About the role forgiveness has in Him. Do you but listen. For He will be heard by anyone who calls upon His Name, and places his forgiveness in His hands. Forgiveness has been given Him to teach, to save it from destruction and to make the means for separation, sin and death become again the holy gift of God. Prayer is His Own right Hand, made free to save as true forgiveness is allowed to come from His eternal vigilance and Love. Listen and learn, and do not judge. It is to God you turn to hear what you should do. His answer will be clear as morning, nor is His forgiveness what you think it is.
7. Still does He know, and that should be enough. Forgiveness has a Teacher Who will fail in nothing. Rest a while in this; do not attempt to judge forgiveness, nor to set it in an earthly frame. Let it arise to Christ, Who welcomes it as gift to Him. He will not leave you comfortless, nor fail to send His angels down to answer you in His Own Name. He stands beside the door to which forgiveness is the only key. Give it to Him to use instead of you, and you will see the door swing silently open upon the shining face of Christ. Behold your brother there beyond the door; the Son of God as He created him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 19
I gladly make the “sacrifice” of fear.
Here is the only “sacrifice” You ask of Your beloved Son; You ask him to give up all suffering, all sense of loss and sadness, all anxiety and doubt, and freely let Your Love come streaming in to his awareness, healing him of pain, and giving him Your Own eternal joy. Such is the “sacrifice” You ask of me, and one I gladly make; the only “cost” of restoration of Your memory to me, for the salvation of the world.
And as we pay the debt we owe to truth,–a debt that merely is the letting go of self-deceptions and of images we worshipped falsely–truth returns to us in wholeness and in joy. We are deceived no longer. Love has now returned to our awareness. And we are at peace again, for fear has gone and only love remains.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: Whether as a student of the Course or a Catholic, true prayer is always what the Course refers to as the prayer of the heart. This means it is the content that matters, not the form. Any form can serve as an expression of the mind’s willingness to hear the Holy Spirit’s “still small voice” that is “… not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It (T.21.V.1:6). It may be very helpful for you to use Catholic forms of prayer that are familiar to you, to remember that the Holy Spirit holds the memory of God in your mind and that the ego’s voice is not the only option. The content is the willingness to keep this in mind and choose the Holy Spirit, regardless of what form the prayer takes.
In the Course, prayer is understood as an expression of the mind’s choice between the ego or the Holy Spirit. In the manual, Jesus refers to this choice as the “prayer of the heart” (M.21) . The prayer/choice is always answered because the mind has the power to make its choice “real” in its experience. Thus, the mind gets what it wants. It has chosen and received separation, and until another choice is made it is compelled to seek outside itself for relief from the pain of having decided to be separate from its Source. It then “prays” to a magical god to be saved from the hell of its own making. Yet, there is no real relief in the ego’s plan, because nothing outside the mind has any effect on it. It is impossible for the mind to receive what it has chosen against. As Jesus tells us in the text: “ It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible [separation] , if he wants what does not exist [the world] or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven (M.21.3:3,4,5,6). Thus, the answer to the mind’s prayer/decision in favor of the ego is hell (the misery of this world), while the prayer/decision for the Holy Spirit leads to Heaven (peace in the dream).
Praying as a student of the Course means paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and judgments in relationships that reflect the choice the mind has made. The choice otherwise remains hidden behind layers of denial and projection. Willingness to recognize the mind’s projection instead of blaming others for how you are feeling is the first step in forgiveness, which is the prayer we are taught in the Course : “…the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless” (T.3.V.6:3,4). Thus, the form of prayer, as it is understood in the Course, is distinct from the form of Catholic prayer in that it is addressed to oneself, for oneself, in forgiveness of oneself for having taken the “tiny mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6)of separation seriously. It is remembering in every situation and relationship that everything is a reflection of the mind’s choice, and nothing else . To pray always means to be mindful always, thus fulfilling the Christian injunction. The goal of this mindfulness/prayer is to learn to not choose separation: “The sleeping Son of God has but this power [of decision] left to him. It is enough. His words do not matter” (M.21.3:7,8,9). No rituals, words, sacraments, or celebrations are required for the simple practice of forgiveness. However, if they serve as reminders to apply it to your relationships and daily experiences, they can indeed be helpful. The goal of returning home to the Father we never left can be reached by many paths.