Unity & Affirmative Prayer

Midweek Faith Lift

May 22, 2024

Affirmative Prayer

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis


Spiritual Passages

May 13, 2024


          When Daverius Peters arrived at his high school’s graduation commencement, he was told he couldn’t be in the ceremony because he violated the dress code. He was wearing athletic shoes instead of dress shoes. When one of his teachers, John Butler, heard about it, he immediately gave the shoes off his feet to Daverius. “This was the most important moment of his life and I wasn’t going to let him miss it.”



          "Every one of us is born to make manifest the glory of God. The most powerful way to fulfill this high calling is to discover and empower your "soul's sincere desire," and to allow this soulful clarity to provide leadership for your choices, intentions, prayers, and actions." - Roger Teel, This Life is Joy


          Affirmative Prayer for Today:  Living, Loving Presence of God, active in and through me and all around me, I claim my Divine Essence that empowers me to know and take inspired action that is for the highest and best good of all. Amen.


We are embarking on a study of Prayer as Unity understands prayer and our resources for this journey are Discover Your Divinity: A Modern Guide to Affirmative Prayer by Revs. Linda Martella-Whitsett and DeeAnn Weir Morency.   We will also be using The Universe is Calling: Opening to the Divine Through Prayer by Rev. Eric Butterworth, a Unity classic.  The Unity approach to prayer was something completely unfamiliar to me when I first attended Sunday service at Unity of Des Moines in July 1989.  I was familiar with rote prayers like the “Our Father” and as a former Catholic, the “Hail Mary” and the “Apostle’s Creed” among others.  These were all said more or less mindlessly without much insight or intention. 


Prayer was for penance, for petition and for repetition to make sure God got the message and would answer your prayer.  When I began to explore Unity and the notion that prayer was not a petition to get God to do something for you, change what someone else was doing, or get you a job, a raise, a promotion or a good grade on a test you really hadn’t prepared for, well that was a decidedly new and different perspective. I was also pretty practiced at what I would call “whining prayer—“Oh, God, why is this happening to me again!  What did I do to deserve this!?”  My prayer partner at the time in 1999, quoted Eric Butterworth to me, “God can only do for you what God can do through you!”  Well, that was a new twist and it put me squarely in the center of the experience in every respect! It was not a familiar place for me, affirmative prayer in particular.


How do we define Affirmative prayer in Unity?  In The Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore defines Affirmative prayer this way:


          Prayer is more than supplication.  It is an affirmation of Truth that eternally exists, but which has not yet come into consciousness.  It comes into consciousness not by supplication but by affirmation.


An affirmation is a “statement of Truth used as an anchor for our mind.”  It helped me to think about Truth, spiritual Truth, as being like the sun, which is always there, even when we cannot see it.  We now know that the sun always returns as seasons change, but ancient peoples prayed to the gods for that to continually happen.  They did not know the “truth” of the sun, so they had to pray about it.


We do not understand the full nature of spiritual Truth or fully appreciate our Divine nature, so from our human perspective, we use affirmative prayer to continually remind ourselves of what is greater than we are and beyond our human understanding.  We have true spiritual power and authority and when we claim that power and authority it changes us.  That is the whole energy of prayer, especially affirmative prayer:  it changes us!  How that happens is often a mystery, which we cannot and will not ever fully understand.  Learning to cooperate with Spiritual Truth and to recognize how we participate in that truth is the essence of affirmative prayer.   We don’t pray to make things true; we pray to call into consciousness the higher reality of what is already true.


The wholeness, harmony and abundance of the Universe are higher Truths or realities that we affirm as being fully real and fully realized in our lives.  Prayer is an active, lived reality that expands our consciousness to see all that is really there, fully realized or made manifest in our lives.  Our prayer is to see how we are empowered to cooperate and co-create with God, with that greater Spiritual Truth to bring about the highest and best good for all in any given circumstances.  This kind of prayer consciousness takes us beyond our limited human perspective and develops a deeper consciousness of that greater reality of which we are a part.  When our consciousness deepens and expands, our perception changes and then our response changes, which frequently results in our greater good manifesting in ways we could not foresee.


A very concrete example of this change in perception happened early on in my Unity journey with prayer.  I had learned that our path is to express our need and pray to be open and receptive to the unfolding of our good.  A key part of that was to let go of the “how” of that and cultivate a consciousness of trust.  So in the winter of 1991, right before Christmas, I was given the opportunity to take these small steps in prayer.  I was backing out of our driveway with both my girls in the car right into a snow bank at the bottom that I did not see.  We were on our way to Unity of Des Moines as they were participating in the Children’s Christmas Program that afternoon.  I needed to get them there on time, so I did not have time to be stuck in a snow bank! 


Of course, my human self put the car in drive, tried to gun the engine to get out of the snow bank, which actually dug me in deeper!  At some point my newly awakening spiritual self decided that my human solution was not working; something else was needed!  And thus began one of the simplest affirmations that I have ever used and continue to use: “God is solving this!” As I earnestly repeated this, I noticed a group of young men walking down Polk Blvd. on my side of the street.  Because of my prayer consciousness and practice, I had the presence of mind to step out of the car and ask them for help!  It was the Drake University Wrestling Team for heaven’s sake!  They were delighted to get us unstuck in no time at all and we were on our way! 


When I told them they were angels of answered prayer, they gave me a funny look and just kept going!  It wasn’t clear to them, but it sure was clear to me as a powerful lesson in how prayer unfolds.  It empowers us to let go of our assumptions and humbly ask for what we need and enlightens us to see the answer when it shows up, even if we really don’t understand quite how it happened.  I will humbly share several observations about this experience. 


First, I had to let go of the notion that a tow truck was my only solution.  Second, I had to let go of any fear I might have had of a young, strong and possibly menacing group of burly young men in their 20’s.  What may have been a perceived threat became a true blessing as the Drake wrestlers had the grit and strength to actually lift and move my car….with my kids still in it!  Gratitude was my heartfelt response, and I have always remembered that prayer changes me in how I show up and how I see what is there!


What I love about affirmative prayer is that it is an energy that is ALWAYS active no matter the circumstances.  Our opening story about the young man with sneakers at graduation and the teacher who responded to that dilemma is to me a powerful example of “prayer in action.”  We stay “prayed up” so that we can recognize when some kind of quick action is needed and step up to take that action with clarity and mindfulness.  Kudos to the teacher and the student for literally walking in each other’s shoes!  One acronym for this practice of being and staying mindfully present is ASAP!  When we used to take phone messages for each other in the olden days, ASAP on the paper message conveyed urgency to respond As Soon As Possible.  My take on the ASAP is to respond quickly and Always Say A Prayer. As Simple As Possible and As Soon As Possible!  All are part of that Truth Consciousness of the Power and Presence of God.


I will close today with the words of Richard Rohr from his May 13, 2024 blog entitled “Welcoming Reality,”


           Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form, without filters, judgments, and commentaries. Contemplation allows us to recognize and relativize our own compulsive mental grids—our practiced ways of judging, critiquing, and computing everything—as well as blocking what we don’t want to see. 


          This is what we’re trying to do when we practice contemplative prayer, which is why people addicted to their own mind and opinions will find contemplation most difficult, if not impossible. No wonder it is so rare and, in fact, “the narrow road that few walk on” (Matthew 7:14).


          When our judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to us, because our narcissism and pettiness are at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed!  

When we say Yes to Truth, we walk in prayer!


Blessings on the Path,

Rev. Deb