El Collie on prayer

Ask and You Shall Receive

Spiritual teachers from almost every sacred tradition impress upon their followers the need to ask the Universe for help. When the African shaman Malidoma Some was asked what people might do to transform themselves and the planet, he replied: “The first thing is to get into the creation of sacred spaces in which one can begin to pray to spirit… to acknowledge spirit’s influence in our lives, and to boldly, and daringly ask spirit for guidance… it is to be willing to wake up every morning and say to spirit, ‘I don’t want to handle today, so why don’t you just take over and I’ll follow. Just guide me.'”

In Where the Spirits Ride the Wind, anthropologist and shamanic teacher Felicitas Goodman tells how she “began to understand that these Beings were standing ready to be our helpers and our friends. All we had to do was ask them, and they responded instantly and in startlingly tangible ways.” While the human plane is bereft without the intervention of Spirit, Goodman reminds us that the realms inhabited by these holy helpers are “equally incomplete without involving us, and the world about us. Although they are so much more powerful than we are, in this sense they need us.”

When I consulted psychic and Kundalini “graduate” Anne Armstrong for guidance in my own difficult process, she told me that meekly supplicating the spirits rarely suffices. She said that if I was not getting definite results, I should demand spirit aid. I was taken aback by this aggressive approach, which Anne said took her a long time to learn for herself. But I have since found that this kind of heavy duty prayer is sometimes necessary. I suspect that it is not because the spirits are so inattentive that we must rant and rave to get noticed, but rather that we are being led to claim our birthright of partnership with the divine. This is for our own sakes, to brand into our minds the understanding that we are wholly deserving of this partnership, and that, in fact, the quality of our lives rests upon it. Even when we have been opened to incredible mystical experiences and realize there are beings and forces in the universe much greater than ourselves, it can take a long time for us to learn we can call upon these supernal intelligences for help. Some of my worst and most disabling symptoms have seemed designed to force me to “let go and let God.” As long as we think we can (or should) cope with everything alone (which is pushed on us in our culture of rugged individualism and materialism), it does not occur to us to ask the Universe for help. But I don’t think we are spiritually intended to be working without Spirit assistance. I find that even the tiniest details of my life turn out better when I pray for help, down to opening a new jar of mustard! But the Spirit (including angels, spirit guides, etc.) cannot intervene unless we invite it. This is one of the most important things I have learned from my own Kundalini awakening — to welcome the Spirit into every part of my life. I still forget sometimes, but when I remember, everything goes so much more smoothly. In Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Christiane Northrup reminds us that when turning to the Spirit for help, we need to realize that “neither our intellect nor our ego can control either the connection or the results.” She suggests three steps for opening ourselves to receive help:

(1) “…hold the intent to connect with divine guidance;”

(2) “…release our expectations of what will happen as a result;” and

(3) “…wait for a response by being open to noticing the patterns of our lives that relate to the original intent.”

To elucidate this, she gives an example from her own life when one day she used the Frances Scovell Shinn supplication, “Infinite spirit, give me a definite lead, reveal to me my perfect self-expression. Show me which talent I am to make use of now.” Later in the day, a friend who was a literary agent called her and suggested that she write a book. Northrup says that “it wasn’t until much later that day that I put those two events together.”

The Siberian healer and shaman Valentina told me she advises all her clients to remember the two crucial principles behind any request to the Spirit. First, we need to be very clear about our intent and ask with great sincerity and desire for what we need. Then, we need to detach completely — just let go of all concern about the matter and trust the Universe to hear and answer. Both steps are necessary. When we can engage ourselves fully, then switch and release all desire and expectation, surrendering to the perfect wisdom and timing of Spirit, wondrous things can happen.

El Collie on prayer from Branded by the Spirit, chapter 14. It fits my experiene, and I especially liked the invitation to go beyond just a meek asking.


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