I find that there is very little written about the challenges of prayer. If you are ever asked to pray it is assumed that you know what you are doing. It is also assumed that those inviting others to pray know what they are doing.  This is very often not the case.

The Journey of Prayer is the most important journey that you will take in your life but most everyone is taught about this journey by those who are only map readers.  They speak about the Promised Land or the Kingdom of God but have never been.

The focus is not on taking the journey but in believing in the journey and belonging to a group of people who read and believe in the same map.

The destination is promised following your dying provided you have adhered to the rules of the specific map you follow.

Challenges of Prayer Practice

  1. The Challenge of Longing.
  2. The Challenge of Authority.
  3. The Challenge of Literalism.
  4. Thinking you KNOW.
  5. Trusting in Emptiness.
  6. The Challenge of Absolutism
  7. The Challenge of Trust

So let’s explore what each of these prayer challenges involve.

Prayer Challenge 1 – Level of Longing

prayer and longing

We have trivialised and tamed our longing. Instead of longing for the transcendent we anesthetize and distract ourselves for the desire for the “good life,” on sex, on money, on success and on whatever we think others have – Prayer – Our Deepest Longing – Ronald Rolheiser

Your willingness to embark on the Journey of Prayer depends on your level of longing or yearning. In the Bible it says that many are called but few are chosen.

Those who are chosen are those who long for union with Divine Intention. Those who are called are the believers of all faiths.

The believer remains at prayer Level I. They go through the ritual and the repetition and accept this as the whole journey of prayer.

Their core belief in the sperate sense of personal sense of remains.

It isn’t that the Divine decides whether you are one of the chosen. The idea of there being a chosen people or those who are saved is nonsense. (Joel Goldsmith).

God has not left us. We have left God – Meister Eckhart – Christian mystic (1260-1328)

You are the one who does the choosing. Your choice is to be available to sacred unity or to remain in the illusion of the separate sense of the personal self.

As far as Divine Intention is concerned you are always chosen.

It is you who must decide if you want to return home. It is you who must decide whether this is important in your life. This importance can’t be lukewarm.

This experience of longing for union with the Divine is the story of the Prodigal Son. The word ‘son’ in this story is not gender specific.

The choice is to serve the interests of the personal self or the unfolding of the True Self. You can’t have it both ways.

Prayer Challenge 2 – Claiming Your Own Authority

prayer and authority

To seek God by rituals is to get the ritual and lose God in the process — Meister Eckhart

The issue of authority is a major challenge on the Journey of Prayer. There will come a point when you must decide that it is your journey, and you are going to travel it your way.

This is very often because of a crisis of faith.  This is where you question the teachings of those whose authority you have accepted as regards your spiritual unfolding.

As a beginner on the spiritual journey of unfoldment it feels great to belong to a group of like-minded individuals. I have loved belonging to groups but have always left them.

It is not uncommon for individuals to be shunned should they begin to question the teachings of the faith that they subscribe to.

This questioning should be encouraged but isn’t. Others feel threatened by your doubts or change of direction.

Those who have travelled the Journey of Prayer KNOW that this questioning takes you on the REAL Quest.

You have moved into a higher-level faith.  This is where you are prepared to move from belief into not knowing before you become a revelation beyond belief.

Prayer Challenge 3 – The Challenge of Literalism.

prayer and literalism

A spiritual teaching is a finger pointing toward Reality – not Reality itself – Adyashanti

This is a real challenge for those brought up in the Christian faith.  If the words of the Bible are taken literally rather than metaphorically and mythically then the whole message is missed.

They read their Bible Day and night. Where they read black, I read white. – William Blake – Mystic poet and painter

The Bible is a map of the journey of consciousness. If it is read literally then it is equivalent to following signposts in a foreign language.

Taken literally Jonah got swallowed by a whale. Taken literally two people were tempted in a garden by a talking snake. Taken literally Jesus returns on a flying horse. Taken literally the end of the world will end in judgement.

The end of the world will happen simply because within the dimension of time the Sun will die. This is an event far into the future.

The Biblical end of the world is YOUR experience of the end of time.

It doesn’t relate to the destruction of the Earth as preached by so many Christian fundamentalists when we are assured that the chosen few will be raptured and everyone else can go to hell in a handbasket.

When time ends you are living in the Timeless. This is the experience of eternal life.  It’s not a belief. It’s your direct experience.

Eternity is not a long time.  Eternity is outside of time. It never began and it never ends.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He meant that the Kingdom was not within the world of time.

This is the truth of who you are.

It is not a truth that you believe in. It is a truth you are. When you KNOW this then this is the end of the world for you.

There is no God sitting in judgement at the end of time because judgement is duality and God is ONE.

When your world ends It doesn’t mean you die. It means that the idea that you are separate from the Divine is seen to be unreal.  You KNOW the TRUTH and it sets you free.

The world of the separate sense of your personal self that you think you are ends.  You are the revelation Divine Intention created you to KNOW and to KNOW through.

Everything is the same and nothing is the same. You live within the world of time but have your BEING within Eternity.

You have died to the personal sense of self (given up your life for the sake of Divine Intention) and found that there is no death (Eternal Life).

Prayer Challenge 4 – Thinking You KNOW.

inner knowing

We must come into a transformed knowing, an unknowing which comes not from ignorance but from knowledge. ― Meister Eckhart

An essential part of the Journey of Prayer is the willingness to acknowledge that you do not KNOW.

The paradox is that you will think you know until that grace moment when you become the revelation of SELF.

The real authority to follow as regards KNOWING is that guidance given by those who are mystics.

A mystic (Level III) is an individual who has been graced the KNOWING of the Ground of Being referred to by different words such as God, Tao, Source, Allah, and other such words.

The mystic KNOWS the territory.  They are not just a map reader. They are often persecuted by those within organized religion (Meister Eckhart) and (St John of the Cross) who are regarded as high-level map or signpost readers.

The mystic can recognize the beauty of other maps. They do not claim to have the only map of the territory that is Divine Intention.

The whole of the Journey of Prayer is the deepening experience of being KNOWN THROUGH.

This is where your life flows from the Divine Mind rather than the overthinking never ending personal voice in your head filled with words and concepts that for the most part are not your own.

I have met more than enough people claiming authority in matters of the Spirit who can recite chapter and verse of the Bible and who have no direct experience to which such verses point.

Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know –  Lao Tzu

Prayer Challenge 5 – Trusting in Emptiness

inspiring prayer quotes

Prayer begins at the edge of emptiness ― Abraham Joshua Heschel

The whole Journey of Prayer is a journey of emptying yourself (kenosis) of your personal agenda so that Divine Intention can express its glory through you.

This is living the mantra, “Thy will be done.” This is the real conversion. You are converted from the focus on the personal self to the True Self.

Your focus is on living what the mystic Joseph Brenner called The Impersonal Life (book that Elvis Presley was reading when he died).

You begin to experience the paradox of the Prayer Journey. The less there is of you in the personal sense the more there is the experience of fulfilment.

Your major prayer challenge is the journey of surrender. 

You go into the desert of unknowing to reach the Promised Land. You leave the slavery of the separate sense of the personal self (Egypt).

The one that leads you across the desert of the unknown is not the Pastor priest or guru but the one who is the KNOWER and the mystic within as represented by Moses.

Ultimately no one can lead you to the Promised Land of Divine Union other than the Still Small Voice Within.

Access to this Land of Promise is always by way of Grace. It is a mystery that happens in its own time. It can’t be earned. It can only be revealed.

The Journey of Prayer is the journey of preparation for this revelation.

This preparation is symbolised by the parable of the ten wise virgins who trimmed their lamps and waited for the bridegroom to arrive (Divine Intention). The virgin state relates to the mind and not the body.

Only in the virgin state can Divine Intention be revealed and birthed within you. The emptiness we achieve in Level III prayer makes us ‘like a virgin’ inside,

The challenges related to the Journey of Prayer are around letting go and trusting in the way in which you will allow the Will of the Divine to be expressed through you and as you.

Prayer Challenge 6 – Absolutism

prayer quotes images

Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language. — Meister Eckhart – Christian mystic.

Absolutism is where you are certain that your way of travelling the spiritual path is the only way.

Absolutism arises from the need to be certain and the need to belong. It is not based on direct mystical experience.

The mystic poet Rumi invites you to move beyond the idea of being absolutely right when he says, “Give up logic for bewilderment.” This is the invitation to the unknown but not the unknowable.

The direct experience that is Level III prayer is still available to the absolutist. Think of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus who became St. Paul.

As the mystic Joel Goldsmith (The Infinite Way) has stated, “No one ever came to the direct experience of the Divine by way of the human mind.”

The absolutists are the missionaries of all times. They are the people who go into the world preaching their gospel intent in converting others to their way of thinking.

Some even go to the extent of using violence in their zeal to convert others.

Conversion for the absolutist is converting you to their way of thinking rather than true conversion which is the experience beyond thought. Real conversion is the experience of being KNOWN THROUGH.

The core focus of the absolutist is the power of words. Theirs is not a movement into the world from the Presence of the Divine beyond words that moves through them.

Often words are needed but without awareness of the Presence within words are simply signposts along the way. Absolutists are the ultimate signpost clingers. They have only one map of the journey which they have not travelled.

Go out into the world and preach the gospel and if necessary, use words – St. Francis of Assisi.

Prayer Challenge 7 – Trust

trust in prayer

Trust is the ultimate challenge.  This is trust in the unfolding of your True Self as it is designed to be expressed by way of your alignment with Divine Intention.

For far too long you have given your trust to false prophets and those who claim to KNOW when all they have is concepts without experience.

Any decent spiritual teacher has on intention. This is to trust your inner unfolding beyond the limitation of logic and the personal sense of the separate self.

When you go beyond these limitations into the allowing of Love’s Purpose you are in effect engaged in prayer.  This is not prayer as usually understood by that word but then look at the condition of the world and the condition within your own world.

If you get little or nothing out of the invitation from this 10-day prayer challenge, then take away the core foundation of any kind of prayer practice.

This is the willingness to take the journey into the unknown which is the real faith experience and trust that Divine Intention KNOWS exactly how to best express the fullness of your life.

If you were to pray only one word let it be the word “Trust” Another common invitation that would work as foundational prayer is the phrase “Let go and let God.”

This takes you beyond theology and concepts into a practice that begins to unfold your life in ways that you may not expect (may not be willing to accept).

Trust is the highest flowering of Love – Osho

Journey of Prayer Menu

effortless yoga

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This 10 Day Prayer Challenge is being written as from the beginning of August 2021.  It often takes more than a day to write, edit and add images to one day of content.

Below are links to those days of the challenge that have been written as of 19th August 2021.