ADVANCED DP WEBINAR
PRAYER - practical and helpful tips (and clips)
Presented by Rev. Dr. Michael Hendrich,
Transcribed by Airenae Culvy
Hi everyone. I'm Michael Hentrich. I'd like to talk a little bit today about prayer.
Now I know that prayer is a very personal thing. It's very individual. And if you have ten people talking about prayer, you may have ten different talks; and they're all going to be right and they're all going to be very helpful and inspiring. And I understand that. All I can do is share from my own spirituality with you and hope that maybe some little nugget of something may be helpful to you.
My prayer life I would say has been a good one and I just want to share from my own experience. That's all I can do. That's all I can do.
Now to introduce this topic, I just want to show you a little video clip here. One of them is from Constantine; you might remember that clip. And the second one is from Bruce Almighty. So let's go and watch those video clips now and we'll talk about it when we get back.
Constantine Prayer Scene:
That's a prayer: Bruce Almighty
Bruce: Am I? ...
Almighty: You can't kneel down in the middle of a highway and live to talk about it, son.
Bruce: But why? Why now?
Almighty: Bruce, you have a divine spark. You have a gift for bringing joy and laughter to the world. I know. I created you.
Bruce: Quit bragging.
Almighty: See, that's what I'm talking about. That's the spark. (Hands him something)
Bruce: What do you want me to do?
Almighty: I want you to pray, son. Go ahead. I'm listening.
Bruce: 'Um ...Lord, feed the hungry and bring peace to all of mankind.'' How's that?
Almighty: Great. If you want to be Miss America. Now come on. What do you really care about?
Almighty: Grace. You want her back?
Bruce: No. I want her to be happy, no matter what that means. I want her to find someone who will treat her with all of the love that she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who'll see her always as I do now through your eyes.
Almighty: Now that's a prayer.
Almighty: Yeah. It's good.
Bruce and the Almighty: It's gud... ha ha
Almighty: I'm going to get right on it. (and zaps him)
Bruce: Whooh ... That didn't feel very good.
Almighty: zaps him again.
and he wakes up with the meds zapping him alive ... end of clips
Alright, how many of you could relate or identify with Constantine's clip there? I'm sure many of us could. I mean, prayer for many people if not most people is a pretty mysterious thing, kinda strange. Is it real. Come on. Am I just moving my lips and moving some air? Is anybody really listening? Is God really out there? I mean, come on. I'm sure that's many people's experience.
But there are some people who feel something. There is some response of some kind. And you know, we're going to talk more about what can trigger that and make that happen a little later. But I really feel akin there to the clip from Bruce Almighty when God said to him, 'Now what's really on your heart, son.' And he says what's really on his heart and God says, 'I'm going to get to work on it.' I resonate with that; but many people don't.
The point here is that prayer really is strange. It really is unnatural. It's not what God intended for human beings. We're not supposed to be praying to God in a formal way. God designed us so that He could live in us and among us so that we're communing with Him in our spirit, in our heart.
He (God) really does love us; but the problem is that, at the Fall of man, we have become like autistic children. We can't even recognize our own Parents. We don't hear Them. We don't see Them. We're just in our own world. It's a really big problem. And prayer is an effort to reach out; but originally God wanted to live in here.
Father said that when you go to the spirit world and you call out to God, He will answer you from within yourself. Well, we already have that Spirit. In fact, here's a quote from Father about this kind of thing. He said:
"However high up God may be, if you call out to Him with a heart of love, 'God!' the answer will come from within your heart, 'What?' You then ask, 'God, where are You?' and He will reply, 'What do you mean, where am I? I am at the core of your heart.'" CSG, 1st ed, p.638
Wow! But people have a hard time with that because of the Fall. So, we're very numb; and we have a problem. But God really loves us. He really does exist and wants to have a relationship with us, a real relationship with us.
But don't expect to hear a voice directly of God, God's Voice. Ha, don't expect to hear God's Voice. I mean, you may hear a voice if you become sensitive spiritually, but it's not God's Voice. He doesn't have a mouth, a body or a voice box; but He may speak to you through an angel, through a guardian angel, through an ancestor, through a spirit person. He has His agents to reach you with His message.
Even Heung Jin Nim, I'm told, asked Father, 'Did God speak to you directly?' Father said, 'No.' He (Heung Jin Nim) didn't say 'directly.' He said, 'Did you hear God's Voice?' Father said, 'No.' Well, I just explained why. God does speak but it's an inner voice, in here (mind) or in here (heart). You won't hear something in your ears. You might hear it through your spiritual ears. And it might be an agent of God; but .... Don't expect too much. But God will, I know personally, communicate with you.
But that doesn't mean now that you should respond and listen to every voice, feeling or inner thought that goes through your head. We're not saying that. That doesn't mean, if you hear a voice saying, 'Go kill that person over there' that you respond to that. No. If it's a neutral kind of thing, it's not dangerous, it's not unPrincipled, it's not bad or evil, then try it, respond to it, follow it and see if that inner voice is correct. And if it's correct, try it again next time of it's a safe thing to do.
And keep trying to follow that if it's okay, if it's nothing bad or dangerous. And after a hundred times, you may realize, 'Wow, this is not a coincidence here.' Somebody knows something and seems to be leading me. They seem to be reliable and it's working. So, this is the kind of way that it can work, this inner kind of voice, inner kind of prompting.
Now Father did say that, if you feel danger, move, go, run! Respond to that always. Always respond to that.
Anyway, God is inside of you. And another thing is that if we are going to train ourselves, cultivate ourselves into a more sensitive person who might be able to experience that inner voice (of God) even though you haven't been able to yet, then one important thing you need to do ...(By the way, I'm just going to jump around in this lecture. It's not going to be a flowing thing in a systematic way. I'm just going to jump from point to point. And hopefully one of these nuggets might be helpful to you.) If you want to cultivate your spirituality, find your place to pray.
You need to get into a good environment that works for you. Everybody is different. Maybe for you it's nature. Maybe you want to go out in the woods. Maybe you want to sit by a stream or a lake; or you have a favorite park bench to go to. Maybe it's a tree. Maybe it's when you're fishing. Maybe it's in the shower. Maybe it's in the bathroom. Maybe it's in a closet. Maybe it's on a busy crowded street. I don't know what works for you; but whatever works for you, that's your prayer place. And you need to seek that place out when you want to be with God.
Now another way that people get in the right place to commune with God or get in tune, sort of speak, is meditation. Now, I've never been a big investor in meditation, but if it works for you, I think it's great. There may be two different kinds of meditation One kind of meditation is where you empty yourself out, all your thoughts, your distractions and feelings, for a peaceful state of being.
And if that's it (that's all you do) then I would call that a Cain/type kind of meditation. But if you get to that point and then on the basis of that you reach out to the real, Living God, Who wants to commune with you, wants to love you, wants to speak with you, wants to hear from you, wants to relate with you, on the basis of that zero kind of meditation you got into, then I think that's an Abel-type meditation. That's great. I think that's wonderful. That works. But I think we need to connect with the real Living God, and not just stop within ourselves. That's what I'm trying to say.
Another thing that's very important as you're trying to reach out and commune with the real Living God is you need to listen. Listen. I would say one of the most important things about prayer in my experience is to shut up and listen.
I know we have a lot of things we want to express to God, frustrations, concerns, needs, desires and whatever; but you know, the real Living God is pretty sharp. And He knows a lot of stuff; and He might have something that He wants to share with you. Heh, heh, heh, ever think about it?
I had a graphic experience one time. I was in a witnessing center in New York City. And, thank God, I've always been a very healthy kind of person. I've never really been sick and had a family doctor and stuff like that. And we were in two-person teams to go out on the street; and one morning I got up and was really sick. I mean, it was really unusual; and I told my partner, 'Well, you'd better go out by yourself; because I'm not going anywhere today. I've got to get over this sickness that's very unusual for me.'
So, I went upstairs to the brothers' bedroom dormitory and crawled into a sleeping bag in a big walk-in closet. I laid down and after about fifteen or twenty minutes this voice, this loud voice boomed out ... Now I don't think it boomed out into my ears. I mean, it could have been through an angel or a spirit person. It seemed like the voice was familiar to me (because I've had so many of these).
Anyway, it boomed out and was loud to me, somehow it was loud. And this voice said, 'I don't need you to be a lone-ranger type any more. I need you to be a big brother to the others, like a father figure.' And I was so shocked. I was 'Whoh!' I was shocked. And I knew it was true. I mean I had always been a lone-ranger type; so, I understood the message and knew it was exactly what I needed to hear.
But it wasn't my nature at all. I know it wasn't a figment of my imagination; and I didn't want to think that way. That was not my nature. I didn't want to believe it; but I knew it was true. And I have to say that from that time on until today, I've tried to live up to that. I can never forget that message. So, I heard it. I received it; and after about twenty minutes more of laying there in my sleeping bag, all my sickness went away. Boom. And I was fine.
And my take away from that is that God had to make me sick, knock me down so He could talk to me; because I was too busy doing the mission. So, sometimes we need to shut up and listen. I really believe that. And Rick Warren, a great teacher and minister, has a big ministry, says 'Twenty minutes a day. Twenty minutes a day. Quiet time, we all need quiet time.' And I try to practice that with my children when they were little. And I brought them to grade school. I tried to drive them to school without saying a word, everything quiet, so that they would just experience a little quiet sometimes.
When I go to the college campuses, I go there to meet young people to talk to them, I can never get over the fact that almost everybody has ear buds blasting all the time to fill in the emptiness inside, every nook and cranny; and it really worries me sometimes. I mean, how can God speak to those people when they're always filling every space with some kind of noise. I'm really concerned about that.
Now, another way ... Now, if you're not the person who's sensitive to hear that inner voice; then that's okay. That's really okay because it's not ... it's not, again, necessary. There are other ways to get answers to prayer. And one way is to connect the dots in our life. I think that a lot of times we don't connect the dots in our life.
For example, you've seen these puzzles in the newspaper. You connect the dots and it makes a picture. Well, I think a lot of times we're missing the boat on this; because we might pray about something or even do a wish paper or whatever, and think, 'I didn't get any answer to my prayer.' Well, you know, maybe something happened in our life that we didn't connect the dots together, we didn't relate the two things together. Maybe it was an answer or a response.
I mean, I've seen so many times where people, myself included, will do something good, make a good condition for example. And then something good happens. A blessing comes, you know. I don't know what kind of blessing. It doesn't have to be money. It could be friendship. It could be a call from a long-lost friend. It could be all kinds of things, a blessing, something to happen unexpectedly; but we didn't connect the dots.
Or maybe we've done something negative. Maybe we've pushed True Parents and the Principle away. I've seen this happen many times on the part of contacts that we were working with, ministers or leaders or common folk. And they would push the Principle and True Parents away in their life. And on so many occasions I saw something unfortunate happen right away.
Now, I can't tell them that. It would give a bad feeling if I told them; but I see it. And we don't connect the dots. We don't realize, you know. There was a person I heard of who went to Korea for a forty-day workshop; and they were trying to tithe faithfully every month. And while they were gone for forty days, they instructed their spouse, 'Now you tithe. This is how much money you put in the tithe while I'm gone.'
Well, the spouse wasn't really such a religious person, more of a business person. And when the spouse went to Korea for the forty-day workshop the spouse went gambling, to have a little fun. And you would know that the exact amount of money that they didn't put in the tithing box they lost in the casino. So, I've seen so much of this that it's really beyond coincidence.
So, you really need to connect the dots in your life and recognize God when He's working in your life. He's not punishing us; God is not a punishing God, okay? He's not. Do not go there. But we do suffer consequences of our wrong actions. We suffer consequences; but God is not in the punishing business.
Okay, now another thing you can do if you're not such a spiritual, mystical, inner voice kind of person, and this is something we used to due in the fundraising days. And I know many people have done it in the SPF and GPA in their calling as children of the future; and that is, if you're not the type to hear the inner voice, the inner prompting, set up an external situation through which you can get an answer.
Simple example, sometimes a person would be like this (not so spiritual) and they'd be in their fundraising area, right? And they say, 'Well, I don't know. I've got any place here. There's shops, there's apartments, there's motor homes over here, there's a parking lot. So, I'm going to go work in that shop-to-shop; and if nobody asks me if I want a drink of water in the next fifteen minutes, I'm going to stop doing that and go over here to the apartment complex.' You know, something like that, something like that.
I had this happen to me one time that three people asked me if I wanted a drink of water. I mean, nobody ever does that. Nobody does that but it was amazing. In fifteen minutes three people asked me if I wanted a drink of water. And I said, 'Wow, that's a sign.' It never happens, never since and never before, never happens. So, I took that as a sign, 'Go this way. Do what you said you are going to do if that happens.' So, it works. (I'm not saying to get your wiji board out. I'm just saying that it works).
So, I want to talk about now a big thing. This is a big thing, okay? This is not a small thing. I'm going to black the screen out; because this is an important thing. The most important thing in prayer is not these things I've been talking about so far. The most important thing about prayer is SINCERITY. Any time I didn't feel like I was getting through to God, some kind of Presence and some kind of response, I stepped back and questioned my sincerity.
And I found that if I got to another level of sincerity, just like Bruce Almighty, then I broke through. Then God could receive and I could feel Presence and I could feel a response when I got more sincere. Now the question is, 'What does sincerity mean?' Ha ha, that's the question. Here's what sincerity means that I'm talking about. I'm talking about rock bottom, bare naked sincerity.
I'm saying that you might be trying to pray but you've never had a successful prayer life in your life, whatever it is ... You don't really know if God is out there or not listening. The only way you're going to get to God is to go there with rock bottom, bare naked sincerity. 'Heavenly Father, Heavenly Parent, I don't even know if You're out there. I don't even know if You exist. I don't get ... I don't even know why I'm here. I'm struggling my brains out. I want to believe in True Parents and the Principle, I want to believe in this church; but there's so many things and this and that. Help me out.' Now don't forget those last three words 'help me out.' You've got to end up with 'help me out.'
You've got to put everything on the table. See, the thing is that God knows your situation. He knows what's going on in your mind and heart already; but you need to put it on the table. You need to put it on the table. He (God) cannot get involved in your portion of human responsibility until you put it on the table and you ask Him.
Father said, "If Eve or Adam had gone to God and said, 'Hey, what's with this angel here? He's saying stuff that seems to contradict what You said. I don't get it. What's going on with this angel? He's strange. I don't think he's being straight with us or something.' ...then, Father said that if they would have gone to God like that, God would have intervened and done something with the angel, to intervene the Fall."
But they didn't go to God. They didn't put it on the table. He (God) knew what was going on; BUT they have their FREEDOM, FREE WILL, FREE CHOICE, THEIR HUMAN PORTION OF RESPONSIBILITY and God absolutely refuses to mess around with that unless we invite Him in and ask Him to. That's why restoration has taken millions of years. It is because God REFUSES to violate your freedom, your free will and responsibility.
So, you need to put it on the table. But don't forget the last three words, 'help me out.' God will help you out. I guarantee it. If you get sincere enough with God, I guarantee it. Cry, yell, scream, complain ... No, not complain but 'put it out there.' That's what you've got to do. He (God) already knows, He already knows; but you've got to put it on the altar. You've got to offer it. That's the most important thing about prayer. If you don't remember anything else from this talk, don't forget that point.
Okay, now if you're starting your prayer and you're thinking, 'Okay, what should I pray about?' Already, you're on the wrong foot. You're on the wrong foot already. You're already off; because if you're thinking, 'What should I pray about,' you're not being SINCERE. You're trying to fit somebody else's mold or somebody else's idea about what you should pray about. 'Well, I guess I should pray about this; because that's what I was taught.' You're not being sincere yet.
Now, we have been taught, 'We should repent. We should pray about this. We should pray about that. I understand that. And if we follow that advice, we're imitating (as Father and Mother said, right?), we're imitating a perfect person. Now you can do that; but you only can do that after you have already opened the door with you rock-bottom, bare naked sincerity.
And then when you've really poured out your sincere heart, like Bruce Almighty, then you can go to those things that you should pray about and explore those kinds of things because it's appropriate, (but only after you've broken through with your bare-naked sincerity). Don't start there. Don't start with that stuff. You won't break through. You won't connect. That's my experience. So, be careful about that.
Now another point about prayer (getting to a little lighter subject) is that we need to be careful when we pray. We've got, ha ha, it's a cultural problem ... I understand. It's an innocent mistake. People don't even recognize it. But I hear it all the time when we have a gathering and we have our members ... See, all of us didn't come from a religious background where we grew up praying in catechism and church and stuff like that.
Many of our members did not come from a religious background. Many of them came from a Buddhist background or a Confucian background or an Agnostic background. God bless every one of them; but as a result of that we don't notice ... I notice and religious visitors into our community notice that sometimes we pray to God ... No, we don't pray to God, we pray 'about' God. This is a really big problem, a really big problem. We don't notice it.
'Yeah, and ah, I pray that God will hear our prayers and that God will be with us and that God will take care of the people that didn't come to church today and that God will do this and that, Aju.' Well, listen, you just prayed 'about' God. And so, if you have a religious person in your audience at your church service when you said that prayer or you're praying at the door when you're blessing people. You pray like that, when you pray like that, the religious person is going to be thinking, 'Who are they praying to?
'They are praying about God 'to who'? Uh, I bet they're praying to Moon... They're praying to ... I don't know. Who are they praying to about God? Heh, heh, you may think it's a small thing; but I guarantee you, if they're a religious person, you may not see them again. I mean, it's so strange and it's so offensive and we do it all the time. Be careful.
You're praying to God. You're communicating with God, 'Heavenly Father. please take care of the people who didn't come to church today. Please come into our hearts and bless the people who are visiting us today and do this and do that and and and ... ' You're praying to God. don't ... It looks like a small, little thing but it can just ... put up a big wall to people who care about this sort of thing, any religious person is going to be out the door. 'Who are they praying to?' Heh, heh, don't do that.
Okay, another thing that we need to ... I'm just going to tell you this. Now, don't pick a fight with your leaders or anybody about this; because it's not important (or it's not that important). But because Father said it, I want to convey it to you; because whatever Father said is important. So, there was a leaders meeting one time where Father asked one of the leaders to pray. And the leader prayed and he said all of his prayer and he got all done and he said, 'And I pray in the name of so and so and so and so, a Central Blessed family, Aju.'
And Father kindly and softly and gently said, 'Ah, no. That's not correct.' He explained that there's a difference between the Central Blessed Family and the Blessed Central Family. And Father said, 'My Family is the Central Blessed Family That's like a central figure. They can pray that way; but we are not the Central Blessed Family. We're Blessed Central Family. ' It made a difference for Him enough to make the comment, so I'm passing it along to you.
Do not pick a fight over it. Do not criticize your leader. Do not make trouble. I'm just trying to help by conveying something that Father conveyed to us. I think everything that Father conveyed is important.
Sometimes we also talk to our ancestors. Now, this is common in the Buddhist culture or in Japan or other cultures, but pretty strange in Western countries. In fact, most Christian people would think it's evil. So, please be careful with that. I mean, it's perfectly fine for us to be doing that; but be careful if you're doing that in public because, you know ... (not to make a stumbling block for others in a public setting).
We should communicate with our ancestors. Dae Mo Nim told us that, our absolute good ancestors, we need to tell them every day what to do, give them their instructions. They won't do anything if we don't tell them what to do. 'Go help this person. Go help my daughter or my son,' or whatever. 'Bring people to me. I'm going to be at the campus to meet people.'
So, tell your ancestors what to do; but if you're praying in public, that's really strange. So, that's related to group prayer. I might as well talk about group prayer for a moment. You know, group prayer should be real prayer. It's not an activity, some kind of ritualistic thing, where you just rattle through something because you're in public and praying for a whole group of people over a lunch at this banquet.
You know, even if it's a short prayer, it can be rock solid sincere from your heart. Make it real and sincere. Don't trivialize prayer. Prayer is serious. I'm communing with God here. Let's join together and pray. Don't say, 'Let's offer a little prayer.' It sounds like you want a little blessing. It's trivializing ... really sincere from you heart; but it doesn't have to be long.
'Heavenly Father, thank you so much for everybody who came here today. I really mean it. And let's really enjoy Your Love with each other as we share this meal. Amen.' Whatever it is you can make it really sincere and short.
In Korea one elder was saying about prayer and was saying that there was a member in the Cheong Pyeong area, which is a very rural, agricultural farming area. So, he asked one of these people to come up and offer prayer in the church service and, ha ha, he went on and on and on ... and on about everything and talking about his pigs and his cows... And so, it became funny. So, this elder Korean leader said, 'Please make your prayer appropriate, short, but sincere.' That's the message. Be careful with that.
Um, prayer is a condition, right? It's a good condition, a vertical condition between you and God. Prayer is a vertical condition. Now, why do we even need to make conditions at all? Why bother. Why do we need to pray? God knows. Why do I need to bother praying and stuff like that?
Well, I want to really get to this big point. And Rev. Kevin McCarthy years ago wrote a book called 'The Blood-Stained Voice'. And in that book he talked about conditions, why we need to do them. And he explained it this way, 'You know, we like to think of God as this great big, warm and compassionate teddy bear and all He wants to do is love us all the time. That's what we want to believe, right? Well, He is! That really is the kind of God God is. He has a one-track Mind. He wants to love us all the time. He wants to love us and bless us all the time. And He's like Santa Claus. He's got this big bag of love and blessing, carrying it around all dusty ... He wants to give us love and blessings all the time. He really does.
But especially because of the Fall, the situation has emerged whereby we are in a conditional relationship between God and ourselves and the dark side. And here's what happened: If God likes your pretty face and just wants to bless and love you and He gives you some love and blessing from out of His bag He's carrying around for millions of years, but you didn't make any kind of step forward to kind of free His Hand or give Him an excuse to give you that love and blessing ... any little thing, a prayer, a sincere prayer or maybe it's your donation, your tithing in church or maybe you did a little fast, you fasted breakfast for a week because of some concern, you helped a friend, you went out of your way and you offered it up.
Whatever it is, you do your Hoon Dok Hae reading. Then God gives you your love and blessings and the dark side can't say a thing about it because God is justified. But if God gives you the same amount of love and blessings and you didn't do anything, nothing, just gobble your food down every time you eat and you just never ... you have nothing to do with God in your life, then if God gives you His love and blessings, the dark side will say, 'Hey, did you see that? God gave that person His love and blessing. They didn't make any offering.
They didn't make any good condition. Well, well, I'm just going to wreck their life. I'm not going to wait for any bad condition either. God didn't wait for any good condition. So, the result of all this is this: GOD WAITS. He waits. He waits for any kind of condition.
WHY DO WE NEED TO OFFER CONDITIONS
God waits for any kind of good condition from you, some kind of offering that He can use to justify giving His love and Blessing (that the enemy who has a claim on us cannot mess with that). He (God) only wants to love you and bless you.
I was giving this as part of a lecture here in the Denver, Colorado church community; and this one sister walked in the room. She never came to any one of my lectures; but she wanted to come and see one of her friends who was in the lecture audience. She knew what time the break was. So, she came in just before the break and sat in the corner of the room waiting for the break to happen so she could talk to her friend. And this is the only thing she heard was this explanation I just gave you.
She opened her purse, took out her checkbook and wrote her first tithing check. She's been a faithful sister ever since. She realized, 'Oh, there's a reason to do this. It's not just about money. It's not about money. God wants to love me and bless me. Oh, I need to take a step toward Him. I get it.' It's a very important thing to get. Don't miss it.
Another thing to think about in prayer is that we are told that our prayer should be a report, a reporting prayer, right? Well, be careful with that. That doesn't mean it's like a business report, like a balance sheet, or something like that. Report, 'Heavenly Father, I'm having a good day.' or 'I've had a hard day. You know what happened today in my life, so and so and this and that and things don't seem to be going the way we'd like ... ' You know, 'report'. Put it on the table.
Now let me give you a little trick question, 'Does prayer change things? That's a trick question. My answer is 'No.' For the sake of those people who think that there's some kind of energy that comes out of my hands and my eyes and my spirit and moves things across the universe and makes things happen, uh, that's not my experience. Sorry.
I think that indirectly prayer makes things happen; but what makes things happen is God's and spirit world's response to your prayer. That's what I'm trying to say. That makes things happen. You pray. You do a sincere wish paper, whatever it is you're doing. You're putting a little money on your prayer, add a little value to it; in other words, you're praying sincerely, you're really putting your sincere guts into it.and it's the response from God, from angels, from your ancestors, IT'S THE RESPONSE THAT MAKES SOMETHING HAPPEN.
Somebody is responding to you. Some body is responding to you. And we should be grateful to them. We should appreciate them, whoever they are, protecting you, guiding you, helping you. We need to appreciate those people.. Some day we are going to be those people, helping, protecting, guiding, our great grandchildren. Appreciate them. They're representing God. They're delivering messages from God. They're representing God to you. APPRECIATE THEM.
Another thing that's very, very important about prayer and offerings, conditions (which prayer is one) is something that Jesus said. It's a really big point. I wish this was on a banner over the altar of every church in America. If we lived up to this one little banner, our culture would be very different. So, what Jesus said was this:
JESUS SAID: "So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." MATTHEW 5: 23 - 4
Very important point, setting the priorities here. This is showing very clearly that God wants to live in us AND AMONG US. So, he's saying, 'You want to come to the altar and make a vertical gift, a vertical offering at the altar, (could be your prayer, could be your fasting, could be your tithing, could be whatever it is, and you might wonder why more blessings and more of God's, you know, God's response doesn't come to America, to me, to my family. You might wonder why you don't see more response.
You know, when 911 happened and those towers fell down, I saw so many people waving little flags and saying, 'God bless America. God bless America.' And I thought to myself, 'What in the world for?' Are we providing an environment for God to bless us? Look at our society. So many things are unholy, you know.
It doesn't mean that God doesn't love us; but what is Jesus saying, 'You want to make an offering to God and then you notice that your brother has something against you...' Everybody has somebody like that. We all have somebody in our life that we need to reconcile with. It might be my spouse, it might be my son or daughter, it might be the pastor, it might be somebody in my church, it might be somebody at work. We've all got somebody (we need to be reconciled with). It might be my parents. We've all got somebody. And what Jesus is saying is, 'You've all got somebody to reconcile with and then give your gift at the altar. You're not ready. You're not in position to make an offering until you've reconciled with your brother.' This is a big one, really big. Take it sincerely to ponder and think about. Take stock in your life. Who do you have to reconcile with.
Also, another thing about prayer is, you know, prayer doesn't have to be kneeling down on the floor and doing kyeong bays... I mean, God wants to live in us and among us. I can't say it enough times. We should be communing with God 24/7. It shouldn't have to be some formal thing where you're kneeling down on the floor and getting your knees all bruised. That's ... that's...That' alright. It's alright to do some of that; but you can communicate with God just as well standing ... walking ...
Some of my best prayers were standing on the interstate overpass watching the traffic go underneath my feet. You know, there was a spiritual lady in our church years ago, decades ago before Dae Mo Nim; and she, Mrs. Che, or Lady Dr. Kim was it ... Anyway, she said to me one time (I met her face-to-face only one time), the only thing she said to me was, 'Don't pray with your eyes shut.' And I said, 'Yes, thank you so much.'
And I thought about it, her direction afterwards, her suggestion, and I know myself that that's exactly right. When I ... my mind is a very creative, wandering mind. If I shut my eyes, immediately my thoughts start to wander; and I can easily fall asleep and get offtrack. It helped me a lot, personally, to pray with my eyes open, not shut. Now that's me, may not be you, may not be somebody else; but, you know, I understand what she's saying.
Yeah, so, informal prayer is at least as effective as formal prayer. It doesn't have to be yelling and screaming and shouting all the time, maybe sometimes but not all the time.
And another thing, when I was doing mission in a rural, remote state (U.S. state) and I was transferring back to another state from that one, I thought, 'You know, if I would have been more serious about what I was there to do, I would have found more opportunity. Doors would have opened for me. I was just reflecting on myself.
And then I reflected about something that I've heard a lot around the Christian community that I ... You know, I was a strong Christian, traditional Christian when I joined the church; and I'm still a Christian. And I said (to myself), 'Many of my traditional brothers and sisters that are Christian say "What would Jesus do?." They have a saying.
Here it is (caption W.W.J.D.) What would Jesus do? 'W.W.J.D.' What would Jesus do? And they find a lot of inspiration in that; and I thought to myself, 'Hey, what about me?' So, I thought I'd try it out. So, I tried it out. I said, 'What would Father do if He were in my situation?' (caption: W.W.F.D.) What would He do? What would Mother do in my situation, whatever I'm trying to accomplish here, whether it's my family, my mission? What would Father do? What would Mother do?
And my experience with this just blew my mind. It's like the whole roof just blew off; and I was immediately put in a situation in my mind, my spirit where I was thinking about ... where ideas were coming to me way beyond what I was thinking.
I was thinking way down here, you know, little stuff; and, when I started thinking, 'What would Father do if He were in my situation, if He were in my shoes?' immediately I started thinking, 'Whah, He'd be working on this level over here.' And I thought, 'Wow! Why didn't I start doing this before. It's really effective and helpful.' Try it out, 'What would Father do, what would Mother do in my situation, in my shoes.'
Another thing about prayer is you know, sometimes when you sit down, you go somewhere, maybe your favorite spot and you want to pray, but all this stuff comes to your mind, you know ... Maybe you're in Cheong Pyeong and go to the prayer hall, and the prayer hall is at the time to pray but you think, 'Oh, I've got school work, my job, my family and this and that, my kids, and the time just passes and you just so ... (You really need to do that meditating, you know?) But anyway, somebody asked Father one time, 'What do we do with all these thoughts that just keep coming to us and we just can't focus in our prayer?'
I just want you to know that Father is very practical, spiritual man. His answer was, 'Just let it go.' Let it go. In other words, you can't shut that stuff off. You can't just control your mind and heart and spirit that way. You just have to let it go, let it flow, until it gets all done. And then when it's all done and it's all out, then you can pray. You've just got to let it go. Very good. I love it.
Also, sometimes we need a show-down prayer. Sometimes your back gets up against a wall and sometimes you need to just go out and find a place where you're by yourself, nobody around and just shout it out, yell it out, get your mind out focused, whatever it takes. You don't always have to pray like that. It's very seldom for me, but it's happened. There's been times when I was really back against the wall and I just needed to yell out to God. It's good.
Sometimes you need to do that. Don't be afraid of doing that. Sometimes you need a show-down prayer (and I'll tell you about one ... heh, heh ...) but a few more points. You need to hunger for God in your life like a baby hungers for its mother's milk. You need to ... It cann't be some kind of duty or some kind of thing you 'should' do, okay? Prayer is not something you 'should' do.
Heh, heh, I mean, if it's something I 'should' do and I guess I should pray, huh, good luck. I don't have much hope that you're going to break through. It has to be something that comes from inside. You've got to sincerely want it. You've got to want to connect with God. You've got to want to.
Do you remember 'What Dreams May Come,' the movie. I can never forget this scene in 'What Dreams May Come'. And you know, Robin Williams is there in the spirit world; and he doesn't know that that man is his son, right? And he says to him, 'When am I going to see my kids?' Remember that? What does his son say back to him? 'You will when you want to.'
I can never forget that. Prayer is like that. You can't fake it. You can't do it because you should. When you want to connect to God, you will. You've got to want it, not a duty; and there's no guilt acceptable in our spiritual life, okay? If you have any situation in your life where you feel guilty, get rid of it. God has nothing to do with that. That's Satan's tool, okay?That's the dark side. God is not in the guilt business, okay? No matter what you learned from your religious upbringing, God is not in the guilt business. So, if you've got a guilty conscience about something, get rid of it. You can repent. You can feel sorry but do not go to the point of feeling guilty; because that means 'I'm no good.' No. We never go there.
Also, this is a big shocker, maybe for you also. It was for me because I grew up in a church family. Father said one day, He said, 'Do not ask God to forgive you all the time.' And I was so shocked. I said, 'What?' I mean, that's what I learned as a child. You go in to see the priest and confess your sins and ask for forgiveness.
Father said, 'No. Don't ask God to forgive you all the time. Do you know what you're doing when you ask God to forgive you?' My ears where completely up. What in the world is Father saying to us now? 'Do not ask God to forgive you because when you ask God to forgive you what you're doing really is your telling God, "I made a mistake, You take responsibility for it." And I thought, 'Holy smokes! I never realized. That's correct. I'm saying to God, 'You take responsibility for it. No. No. No. That's not a mature son and daughter's attitude.' I was shocked.
So, later I thought, 'Well, how should we pray then?' And here's what I came to, I realized ... Try it out. It's really powerful. It really works. You repent, right? 'I'm sorry I'm not like this, I didn't do that, I did this, I shouldn't do this, I did that, whatever you're repenting about is fine. 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, even in tears ... that's all the same. We should really be sincere in our repenting, right? I'm not ... I don't care about the people across the street. I don't really sincerely care about the providence. I don't care about nothing. Help me out. I repent. I'm so sorry. Please help me out.'
But when you get done repenting, instead of saying, 'Forgive me,' we say, 'Give me an opportunity to restore my mistake. Give me an opportunity to restore my mistake.' That's a mature son or daughter's attitude. It's huge. It's such a huge difference. Try it out. It really does make a big difference. It's powerful. It's really a big deal. 'Help GIVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO RESTORE MY MISTAKE' INSTEAD OF 'FORGIVE ME.' Don't say that, I mean not so much, maybe sometimes is okay. You need to be forgiven.
Now, WHAT IS SIN? This is a big problem in our church. I don't know ... We haven't learned from the Catholics. They got it. We didn't. Some how or another we seem to think that sin is the stuff we did that we shouldn't do. Well, that's part of it. But, you know, you go into the prayer room at Cheong Pyeong and you're going to sit down and pray and you think, 'Well, "Heavenly Father, I want to repent (if you really sincerely want to repent) and you think, 'Well, I didn't fall today. I didn't kill anybody today. I didn't steal anything today, aah, I guess I'm okay. Aju.' Heh, heh, heh, heh, Oh, we're so out to lunch. Most of our sins are not sins of commission.
You know there are two kinds of sins and we've never been talking about (I don't know why) we've never been talking about sins of ... anything but sins of omission. You know, most of our young people are not going out sinning, doing bad things. They live a pretty good life.
The problem we have is sins of omission. That's where we need to reflect. That's where we need to repent. It's what I'm not. It's what I don't feel. It's what I don't care about. It's what I don't do. You know, when I really sincerely pray in repentance, do you know what I pray about? I say, 'Heavenly Father, I'm not the husband my wife has needed. I'm not the father my son and daughter have needed. And I haven't been the kind of son that You and True Parents needed. That's my heartfelt repentance.
Do I really care about those people across the street? Do I really care about the Providence? Really? Does my life reflect that? Ohh, man, don't lie to me. I think it's a big problem. That's where our problems lie, our sins of omission, not so much commission, sometimes ...but we need to learn about this stuff.
(caption: And, don't forget the grease ... )
We need to get the grease going in our prayer. And what is the grease? The grease is sincerity, gratitude and love, sincerity, gratitude and love ... GRATITUDE, LOVE, that's how you grease your prayer. Make them really powerful, penetrating, grabing God's Heart.
Don't be complaining in your prayer. Be careful about that. I mean, you might start that way; but kinda get out of that. You're going to get a lot better response if you are full of gratitude and love. There really always is a silver lining in every cloud. Look for it. There's no need to complain.
There's a reason for everything. Look for it. Find it. Take responsibility for it. If you take responsibility for it, something you're complaining about then you're not complaining. But if you're just throwing stuff in God's Face and not taking responsibility for it, maybe that's complaining. Don't be doing that.
The last few things I want to talk about is to make a prayer list. Now, this prayer list is not ... Take a piece of paper or a little notebook or your cell phone, your tablet, whatever you make lists on and start a list. Now, this list is not stuff you should pray about. No! It is not things that you should pray about. It's things that you want to pray about, things that are important to you, things that you want to pray about, if you remember when you get around the praying.
You might want to pray for Aunt Mary over there. 'Oh, my aunt, she's sick and I want to remember to pray for her situation. And my sister. I want to pray for her when I get around to praying. And my mother, she needs my prayers. I really want to remember her...'
And you start making this list. One or two things comes to mind and after a month or so, you're going to have a list of things that you decided that you want to remember to pray about. Make that list. It's always under construction, that list.
And after you've got that list, a month or two down the road and nobody's home, you're alone, turn off the TV, the cell phone, you go out to sit on the front porch or the chair or the back yard, wherever you go to pray, maybe ten o'clock at night when everything's getting quiet, pull out your little list.
And you start praying about the things that you wanted to remember to pray about. And I guarantee you that when the sun starts coming up and you realize that, 'My God, I've been praying all night and I'm still not done. These things are important to me.' From then on your prayer life will be completely different.
It's good to do that sometimes, once in a while. It's not hard. You'll wonder how, how could I pray in a few minutes like I used to pray. I've been praying all night but I didn't have enough time to finish. Then God will really be embracing you and hugging you; because, that's what He has. He has a lot on His Heart. And you'll finally realize that there's a lot of good stuff in your heart too.
One more thing ... two more things. Make a date with God. Sometimes, you need to make a date with God. This is my follow-up to that showdown thing we were talking about earlier. I'll give you an example of my make-a-date-with-God thing.
I was at UTS years and years ago; and we had to do so many things at UTS. It wasn't just academics and studies and papers. We were building park benches and digging the lake behind the campus and doing all kinds of stuff. You know, creating plays and Father came to visit. And there were so many things to do, couldn't do them all.
And I had this big term paper due on Monday. And I hadn't done anything on it. And it was Saturday. And it was due Monday. I take my studies seriously but I had this ten-page paper that was due and I hadn't done anything on it yet. We didn't have the internet. We didn't have computers. We didn't have wiki. We didn't have Wikipedia. We didn't have anything. We had books and paper notebooks and pens.
So, I made a date with God. This is the way I prayed, I said, 'Heavenly Father, look I have to do this term paper. It's due Monday; and I haven't done anything. I need to meet You in the library tomorrow morning after Pledge Service at 5:30. You better be there.' That was my prayer just like that, 'You better be there in the library at 5:30. I'm going to meet You there; because I need Your help.' I had the most unbelievable experience in my life.
It was unbelievable. I was the only person in the library at 5:30 in the morning. I turned the lights on. I sat down at the table and opened my paper and took out my pen; and all this stuff started flowing through my brain and my spirit mind. I just couldn't believe it. I could hardly write fast enough to keep up and take down all these ideas that just flooded through my mind.
Wow! Unbelievable, memorable experience. I don't know if God directly, angelically, through the ancestors, but anyway it happened. God bless them all whoever helped me. Wow.
And my final point is this. It's a big one. It's a big one. Prayer is as important and valuable to God as it is to you. If it's not important and valueable to you, then it's not going to be important and valueable to God. I'll give you an example.
Back in the day. I was on MFT or whatever and we were on a fundraising team somewhere. I think it was Chicago. Some other people remember this as well. I met some other people who remember this same thing as well. Anyway, we were out blitzing. It was Saturday night and we were out till 1 or 2 in the morning. And we were tired and we were pushing ourselves to make our big goals. And we came home and all we could think about was emptying our pockets, counting up, putting the money in the bag and let's hurry up and have our closing prayer and go to bed. That's all we were thinking.
So, we all pulled our money out, counted it up and put it in the bag, marked down our result and let's have our closing prayer. We had our closing prayer and we were dashing off to our sleeping bags, right? And I noticed that in the corner of the room was this sweet Japanese sister standing at the ironing board. And I thought, 'What? What is she doing?'
So, I went over there and I said, 'What are you doing?' She was ironing every dollar bill she collected that day. She was ironing the money. She was ironing every bill she collected that day. I said, 'What are you doing?' She said, 'This is my offering'. I can never forget that. This is her offering. She's ironing the money. It's that special to her. I can never forget that.
Of course, she made a lot of money and everything; but because she made the offering really special then God could also feel, 'This is really special. Because it's special to her, it's special to Me.' If it didn't mean anything to me, it doesn't mean anything to God either. It really was such a shocking experience that I can never forget.
It reminds me of Cheong Pyeong, you know? People could think, Western people could think. Well, why did she put that Tree of Blessing way up there at the top of the mountain? Why didn't you put it down here by the store, by the prayer hall, where it's convenient? Heh, heh, heh, you know. She explained to us, and Buddhists understand this. There was a certain number of steps on the stairway up to that Tree of Blessing, a certain incline to the road.
It all has a purpose that makes it special. She taught us how to go to the prayer room to pray, if you remember this. She said, 'When you approach the prayer hall, before you go into the building, you stop in front of the building and you bow. Then you go inside the glass door as you leave your shoes and you go to the sliding wooden door and you bow. Then you walk into the prayer hall and find your spot to pray and you bow. You kneel down and you pray and you get up and you bow. And you take three steps backward and you bow. And you go out the sliding door and you bow. And you put your shoes on and as you go out of the building you bow. What in the world? Ha ha ha.
I mean, I grew up as a Catholic boy and I understand about all that; but how many times do you have to bow? But that's Western thinking. That's not the point. The point is that we're making it special. Your prayer is as special as you make it. Your offering is as special as you make it. If it's just a ritual to you, just something you mumbo jumbo and you do it because people expect you to do it, don't expect a response. God doesn't care anything much about it either. God couldn't care less about it either, if it doesn't mean anything to you.
But if you're really aching inside or you're really super happy and you really want to reach out to God, your Father and Mother in the spirit world and you want to connect to Them, to Him, He's there and you will experience something. That's my experience.
That's my tips on prayer. I hope there's something in there that can help you in your prayer life. So, I think it's only appropriate that we finish this presentation with a prayer.
"Our loving Heavenly Father, thank You so much. You've given us the technology that we can do this kind of thing. We didn't have it when I was a boy. Thank you so much. Jesus didn't even have a pencil, didn't even have a microphone. How much You love us. How much You are trying to reach us. How much You're trying to facilitate this and build this bridge.
Thank you. I pray that those who are listening to this presentation who can benefit from it will take it deeply into their hearts and they will digest it and they will hold onto it and they will try it and they will find You. Father, show yourself to them who really sincerely are aching for You, please.
Father, thank You so much for Your Love. Thank You so much for being there in my personal life. Please do that for my family, my descendants and all the people who want to know You. Thank You, Thank You, Lord We pray with a grateful heart in all of our family names. Aju.