Affirmation and Negation

Midweek Faith Lift

July 10, 2024

Affirmation & Negation

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis


Spiritual Passages

July 1, 2024


Teddy Roosevelt, during the toughest time of his administration had a certain practice. When a tough day would end, Roosevelt would take members of his staff and walk outside, and search the night sky until he found a great square of Pegasus. Roosevelt would recite the same lines every night. Pointing to Pegasus, he would say, “This is the spiral galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns even larger than our own.” And then Roosevelt would smile, and say, “Now I think we can handle our problems. Let’s go to bed.” He knew that if he kept his bearings, the grand potential of this nation and the world would be fulfilled. He knew that once our consciousness shifts from a feeling of separateness to one of wholeness, that our vast genius will serve the growth of ourselves and our planet.


           We are not all weeds, but we are not all wheat, either. We have to learn, even now, to accept and forgive this mixed bag of reality in ourselves and in everybody else." - Richard Rohr


           Affirmative Prayer for today:  Infinite Spirit of Love, present in this world in each one of us and in all the spaces between us, we call upon that energy of Love as we engage in the power and process of affirmation and negation in prayer. Amen


What a great story about Teddy Roosevelt to anchor our exploration of affirmation and negation as prayer practices.  His practice was all about keeping a healthy perspective, realizing both the literal transcendence of the Universe and his human journey on earth.  We are learning to navigate our lives with a prayer practice that includes our human/divine/observer selves.  The prayer process of Affirmations and Denials in Unity has been so misunderstood and so misused that I have often wanted to just skip it.  I once heard a YOU teen describe affirmative prayer by saying that if a Unity person was somehow in a frying pan, he would say “It’s not hot and I’m not here!”  as an affirmation and denial prayer.  We laugh, but …’s not really funny!


As we consider the prayer pattern of affirmations and denials, it’s important to remember that prayer is NOT directed to anything or anyone outside of oneself.  In the process of prayer, we are seeking to realize our transcedence.  As Eric Butterworth says on p. 63 of The Universe is Calling,


          ….prayer is not conditioning God to your needs, but conditioning your needs to the activity of God…..Prayer is not trying to reach God, or inform God or tell God about your troubles.  It is to know God as the infinite resource within, and to expand your self-realization.


We pray from our human perspective to strengthen and activate both the capacity of our observer self to pause so that we more readily and automatically connect with the higher Truth of our Divine self, or Divine nature before we chose our next thought, word or deed.   In Matthew 6:7-8 we read instructions from Jesus about praying:


7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (NRSV-UE)


We clearly do not need excess words or to explain to God what we need.  That is where the prayer process of affirmation and negation can be very helpful.


Revs. Linda and DeAnn have the best explanation of “Affirmation & Negation” prayer that I have ever heard or read!  They begin with the statement on p. 43,


           Affirmative prayer relies on statements of Truth, or affirmations as anchors for shifting awareness from powerlessness to empowerment….Negations are statements renouncing false beliefs with their accompanying negative thinking.  Both affirmation and negation are essential.


We use affirmations as a powerful tool for evolving our spiritual capacity to know our divine nature by targeting and transforming limiting beliefs.  Our human self gives power to words, thoughts and emotions that do not serve our highest and best good.  When these beliefs carry an emotional charge, it is really a challenge for them to not be our default mode.  It is because they have a charge that we have to re-condition our human consciousness to go beyond to something that is greater and more powerful. 


To highlight the contrast, we say that we “know” or affirm the earth is round, therefore we can sail in a ship past the horizon and no harm will come to us, we need not be afraid. As an affirmative prayer, this sounds goofy because in 2024, there is no emotional charge in claiming that the earth is round.  However, we do have emotional energy in many of our beliefs about ourselves and about others, which results in us holding lots of undesirable fears, ideas and beliefs.  How does the process of affirmation and negation impact these issues?


Using this form of prayer is a process, not a magical incantation, and the intention is to strengthen and condition our conscious awareness of our true divine nature as well as helping us become more aware of our human nature.  Affirmations are strong “I AM” statements of spiritual truth, which are first person, present tense statements of what is true right now.  The focus is on your own experience and what you are, what you know or can do right now, NOT the how or the why.  These statements are about our Divine Identity, not our human capacity and they also clarify what we know of spiritual Truth that informs and transforms our consciousness. 


When we remember that prayer is always answered at our present level of consciousness, then affirmations that lift our consciousness to a higher realization of our true, divine nature will be more powerful.  Let’s consider an example.  There are programs that Unity has recommended in the past, such as Stretton Smith’s “Four T” which focuses on prosperity.  I have never pursued it because it just didn’t make any sense to me.  You affirm 100 times a day, “I am prosperous.”  You are also required to tithe 10% to Smith or to Unity.  This has no real energy in it, and what other ministers have told me is that people tithe during the 6-week program, but not afterwards.  No real change in thinking or behavior or consciousness happens as a result.


Here is what Revs. Linda and DeAnn propose as affirmations of Prosperity on p. 46:

I AM divine abundance, the power of plenty.

I AM the power of prosperity, giving and receiving gratefully.

I AM and I now demonstrate divine abundance.

Notice how powerful these statements are as statements of spiritual truth.  They are not statements of positive or wishful thinking. And they don’t deny the reality of present circumstances by saying “It’s all good” when it clearly isn’t! Despite outer circumstances, the purpose of affirmations is to “recondition consciousness and connect our human identity to our divine identity.”  (p. 48) Affirmations as a practice lead to our individual spiritual realization, a making real a universal truth that is true for all people equally true for us. 


Negation is the term that Revs. Linda and DeAnn use for what Unity has typically called “Denial.”  In the common understanding of the word denial, it is a disbelief that something is happening, a kind of sticking your head in the sand and refusing to see what is there.  We use the spiritual prayer process of Negation instead, so that we strengthen our “observer” self to truly see what is there and deepen and increase our capacity to say “no” to it.  It is a way that we meet our humanness with Truth, the greater reality of spiritual truth.  Our divine nature is more powerful than our human nature or perspective and our capacity for acting more powerfully and effectively happens whenever we lead with our Divine nature.  Jesus said it like this:  “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the father who dwells in me does his works. (John 14:10 RSV). 


To effectively use the power of negation requires a decision and a deep realization that a belief or thought is false so that any correlated feelings can be transformed.  To make this decision requires us to actually feel what is uncomfortable, be with what we don’t enjoy or especially like about ourselves and come to a place of recognition and willingness to release what no longer serves us.  This is NOT easy, but it is absolutely necessary and we cannot bypass it with affirmations.  Remember when we explored “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts.”  That is not a workable stance when we are engaged in the process of affirming higher, or spiritual truths and letting go or negating the power of what we want to believe is true. 


When you use affirmations and negations together in prayer, what you are putting into that “container” that we spoke of last week is your focus, energy and attention. You are claiming your Divine Identity: I AM the discerning Power of Wisdom, discerning my next right step. AND You are thereby empowered to say and make real in your life: “ I choose where to give my power and I choose to place it here, not there.”  We know that what we give our attention to is what increases.  The prayer process of affirmation and negation gives us the structure and focus to recognize our good when it is present, and say a powerful no to what no longer serves us.  Our I-Intention +A-Attention = Manifestation!


Blessings on the Path,

Rev. Deb