- Affirmative prayer
Affirmative prayer is a form of prayer or metaphysical technique that is focused on a positive outcome rather than a negative situation. For example, a person who is experiencing some form of illnesss would focus the prayer on the desired state of perfect health and affirm this desired intention "as if already happened" rather than identifying the illness and then asking God for help to eliminate it.
In New Thought-related denominations
New Thoughtis an attempt to describe spiritualityas involving a set of laws that are consistent in much the same way as scientificprinciples are consistent. It originated during the 1880s, influenced by Theosophyand Christian Science, has emphasized affirmative prayer as an essential part of its philosophy.cite book |title=A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion |first=Catherine L. |last=Albanese |publisher=Yale University Press |pages=p313 |year=2007 |isbn=0300110898] Practitioners among the various New Thought denominationsmay also refer to this form of prayerby such names as scientific prayer, spiritual mind treatment or, simply, treatment.
New Thoughtchurches, the foundational logic of this form of prayer is based on the belief that God is unlimited and plays no favorites, that God has created spiritual laws that are both as mysterious and as constant as scientific principals like gravity, and thus, if one's prayer is correctly and diligently focused, it will be answered consistently.
Affirmative prayer with a Christian theme is a central practice of the loosely organized, decentralized
Unity School of Christianity, initially named the "Society of Silent Help" (a descendent of the New Thoughtmovement) founded by Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmorein 1889. cite book |title=Exploring New Religions |first=George D. |last=Chryssides |publisher=Continuum International Publishing Group| year=1999 |pages=p375]
In the 1920s and 1930s, some in the American Jewish community were attracted to the teachings of
Christian Science, referring to their study by the term " Jewish Science". A major figure in this movement was Morris Lichtensteinwho together with his wife Tehilla Lichtenstein, published the "Jewish Science Interpreter", a periodical featuring much of his own writing. Lichtentein found affirmative prayer to be particularly useful because, he believed that it provided the personal benefits of prayer without requiring the belief in a supernatural God who could suspend the laws of nature.cite book |title=From Christian Science to Jewish Science: Spiritual Healing and American Jews |first= Ellen M. |last=Umansky |publisher=Oxford University Press |year=2005 |pages=p104 |isbn=0195044002] Lichtenstein considered that affirmative prayer is a method that can access inner power that could be considered divine, but not supernatural. He taught that the origins of affirmative prayer can be found in the Old Testamentbook of Psalms, and that affirmations, or affirmative prayer is best offered in silence.
Affirmative prayer is used by practitioners of
African Americanhoodoo,cite book |title=Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women |first=Iyanla |last=Vanzant |publisher=Hay House, Inc |year=2008 |isbn=1401921884] usually in conjunction with its opposite, which is called a "prayer of removal". In this folk magicapplication of the technique, the prayer of removal may be said during a waning moonor at sunsetor at ebb tide("As the sun goes down, this disease is removed from my body") and the affirmative payer may be said during a waxing moon, at dawn, or at high tide("As the sun rises, this day brings me perfect health"). cite book
title=Hoodoo - Conjuration - Witchcraft - Rootwork (Five Volumes)
author=Harry Middleton Hyatt
publisher=Alma Eagan Hyatt Foundation
The logic behind this application of affirmative prayer is that God has ordained laws of natural inflow and an outflow, and that by linking one's prayer to a natural condition that prevails at the time, the prayer is given the added power of God's planned natural event.
In the self-help movement
William Jamesdescribed affirmative prayer as an element of the American metaphysical healing movement that he called the "mind-cure"; he described it as America's "only decidedly original contribution to the systemic philosophy of life."cite book |title=Prayer: A History |pages=p322 |first= Philip |last=Zaleski |coauthors=Carol Zaleski |publisher=Mariner Books |year=2006 |isbn=0618773606]
What sets affirmative prayer apart from secular
affirmations of the autosuggestiontype taught by the 19th century self-helpauthor Emile Coue(whose most famous affirmation was "Every day in every way, I am getting better and better") is that affirmative prayer addresses the practitioner to God, the Divine, the Creative Mind, emphasizing the seemingly practical aspects of religious belief.cite book |title=Handbook of American Popular Culture |first=M. Thomas |last=Inge |publisher=Greenwood Press |year=1989 |pages=1256 |isbn=0313254060]
Some members of the self-help and
self-improvementmovements advocate affirmative prayer in addition to or instead of secular affirmations. The choice is largely an individual one, based on the beliefs of the practitioner.
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