This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What are the benefits of prayer? How can prayer help you tap into spiritual forces that aren’t normally available?
Praying can be a source of great power, helping to change your life positively and giving you the strength to get through difficult times. Prayer can even restore physical health and well-being and is used by therapists and other practitioners to help others.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of prayer, according to pastor Norman Vincent Peale.
Prayer and Vibrations
Everything in the universe is made up of vibrations. Prayer is simply sending out vibrations to God as well as from one person to another. There are many benefits of prayer: prayer can help you feel youthful energy as you age, keep your spirits up, send you out each morning refreshed and renewed, guide you in solving problems, help you react properly to situations around you, and release your inner power.
When you pray for someone else, you are sending that person a sense of support, love and helpfulness. This process awakens vibrations in the universe, and God is able to help make whatever you’re praying for come to pass.
Peale has made it a habit to send out prayers all day long to the people he encounters, even briefly, letting the power of God move through him, to the people he prays for, and back again to God, creating an endless loop of prayer power.
Prayer Stimulates Creative Ideas
Another function of prayer is to bring out creative ideas that are in our consciousness. Everything we need for a happy and successful life, personally as well as in business, is already in our minds and personalities; we just have to tap and develop these powers.
Peale’s acquaintance was one of 4 executives of a business. Regularly, these executives get together for “idea sessions,” aiming to tap any creative ideas lurking in their minds. They start these sessions with quiet prayer and meditation and think about God working creatively in their minds. Then they all start talking, pouring out various ideas that are written down on note cards. This is an idea-tapping session stimulated by the power of prayer.
Peale learned another unique prayer technique from Frank Lauback, author of Prayer, the Mightiest Power in the World. Dr. Lauback believes in the power generated by prayers. One method he uses is to “shoot” prayers at people as he walks down the street. He calls this bombardment of thoughts of goodwill and love “flash prayers.” He often gets a reaction as people feel the energy of the prayers.
Peale tried Dr. Lauback’s method while on a train near a rude, possibly intoxicated man who was behaving obnoxiously. He prayed for the man, visualized his better self, and sent out good will. Soon the man’s attitude changed and he became quiet, even smiling at Peale. Peale believes the prayer power reached the man.
Peale also prays for members of his audience before he gives a speech, sending thoughts of love and goodwill. Sometimes he picks out someone in particular, such as one man who appeared to be scowling at Peale. Before speaking he “shot” prayers at the man and continued to do so as he spoke. The man came up to him later smiling, saying the speech had given him a strange sense of peace. Again, prayer power in action.
The human brain can send off power with thoughts and prayers—its cells are like millions of storage batteries. Coupled with the human body’s magnetic properties, we can see how prayer power can flow through us and pass between humans.
Peale once counselled a man who was in Alcoholics Anonymous. One afternoon Peale had a strong impression that the man was in trouble, so he stopped and sent prayers to the man. Later he found out that at that exact moment, the man had been outside a bar tempted to drink. The man thought about Peale and began to pray. He soon got the strength to go to a drugstore and buy candy instead of drinking.
Prayer can change the way you view and react to your circumstances, as well.
A young wife and mother was filled with anxiety, hate and resentment. She was very unhappy and dissatisfied with her life. Peale encouraged her to pray, and though doubtful at first, she became an enthusiastic prayer practitioner. What resonated most was Peale telling her, “Every day is a good day if you pray.” Every morning she affirmed this idea in her prayers. Though petty annoyances still existed in her life, she was unbothered by them. She began her prayers by listing what she was grateful for, and this habit helped her focus on the good and not the bad. She said she hadn’t had a single bad day since she started this exercise.
Techniques for Getting Results From Prayer
- Pray out loud, using simple language. Talk to God naturally.
- Pray during your daily activities. When you get the chance during the activity, shut your eyes to feel God’s presence.
- Give thanks during your prayers; it’s not always about asking.
- When you pray for loved ones, know that your prayers can bring God’s love and protection to them.
- Only use positive thoughts in prayer.
- Truly accept God’s will—it may be better than what you’re asking for.
- Put all your concerns in God’s hands. Do your best and leave the rest to God.
- Pray for those who have wronged you. Resentment blocks your spiritual power.
|The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, frames prayer as a muscle that needs to be built. They caution us to temper our expectations; deep, meditative prayer doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, and getting good at it takes work. |
However, if you continually practice Peale’s techniques for getting effective results from prayer, they should become easier and more rewarding for you over time.
To make prayer or meditation a regular practice, find the joy in it, don’t expect it to be a magic bullet, and take advantage of pockets of time during which you’d otherwise be on your phone, like when you’re waiting for your turn at the DMV.
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- That there is no problem or obstacle you can’t overcome with faith, positive thinking, and prayer
- The practical techniques of applied Christianity
- How to take control of the events in your life rather than be directed by them