This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Seeking Wisdom" by Julia Cameron. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What are prayer requests? What should you request if you need help in life?
Requesting from God can be difficult because it’s so tempting to ask for selfish things. However, Julia Cameron recommends two prayer requests that can help you without sounding selfish: humility and a better mood.
Read below the prayer requests that Cameron talks about in her book Seeking Wisdom.
Prayers of Request
A prayer request is when you ask God for something: for example, inspiration or a new friend. Cameron explains that the prayer requests are crucial because they’re how we receive God’s guidance—we ask and listen for the response. But Cameron warns that you must accept God’s response without resistance to increase your creativity and spiritual connection.
Cameron says that you must keep God’s goodwill in mind when you pray—ask God to work with you and through you, rather than for you. For example, you can pray, “please send me a new friend when it’s the right time,” or “please guide me to the career that’s right for me.”
Cameron says that God’s responses can come in many ways, such as a gut feeling, a new opportunity, or an abrupt change—you must listen to the signs and trust your intuition. Sometimes, God’s response won’t be what you wanted or expected, but above all, you must trust God. Cameron stresses that God is benevolent and will guide you in the right direction at the right time.
While making personal requests to God is most common, Cameron explains that asking God for humility and help with bad moods will also strengthen your spirituality and creativity.
Trusting Your Intuition
Cameron says that when we ask God for guidance, we must use our intuition to discern God’s response. However, accessing your intuition can often be difficult. Experts provide a few actionable tips to help you connect with your intuition (and in doing so, connect to God).
- Don’t mistake fear for intuition. It’s easy to confuse fear and intuition, as they’re both internal instincts that influence your behavior. However, experts typically advise against following fear, since it urges you to protect yourself even if it means compromising your values. To differentiate fear from intuition, listen to your body—do you feel tense, constricted, or panicked? If so, you’re likely following fear. Instead, follow gut feelings of excitement, contentment, and anticipation—these feelings are your intuition.
- Practice following your intuition. If you’re not used to listening to God’s guidance through your intuition, start by making small decisions based on your intuition. For example, rather than spending time considering what others will think of an outfit, just pull whatever feels right out of the closet and get dressed. This will help you start to recognize and trust your intuition so that when God sends bigger decisions and opportunities your way, you’re comfortable letting your intuition take the reins.
- Take a snap judgment test. Write down a question on a piece of paper with yes or no below it. Go about your business for an hour or so and randomly come back to the paper, read the question, and write your immediate response. Similar to Cameron’s recommendation to ask a question to the page and write the response that you hear, you’re letting God’s guidance flow through you without overthinking it.
1. Requesting Humility
Cameron adds that when you’re denied what you ask for in prayer or don’t receive the answer you want, you must resist the urge to become resentful, disappointed, or frustrated. These negative feelings can weaken your connection with God and your creative energy because you’re resisting the path that’s meant for you. If you find yourself resisting God’s will, you can use another type of request prayer: a prayer of humility.
Cameron explains that there are many different formal prayers and informal prayers you can use to ask for humility. For her, the formal Serenity Prayer often helps—“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
But there are many informal ways of praying for humility. Cameron notes that going into nature is a great way to remind yourself of God’s goodwill and orderly direction. You can observe how the sun and rain feed flowers so they fulfill their purpose of blooming and remind yourself that just like the flowers, God will give you what you need to fulfill your purpose as well.
2. Requesting Help With a Bad Mood
Cameron cautions that it can also be hard to accept God’s guidance when you’re dealing with a bad mood. Bad moods happen to everyone sometimes—if you find yourself in a bad mood, you can use a prayer of request to ask for God’s help. Cameron reminds us that God is a friend that’s always listening and supportive.
There are a few ways you can pray for your mood. You can simply check in with God and say, “God, I’m feeling grumpy”—God’s always watchful, helpful, and accepting of your emotions. Or, you can ask for God’s help, saying “God, please help with my mood.” Cameron says that whenever she asks for help with her mood, she always receives a small pick-me-up that she knows is from God. She says to look out for God’s help; it can come in many different ways.
Fixing Bad Moods
While Cameron recommends praying to improve your mood, psychologists explain that there may be more effective methods to climb out of a rut. They explain that there’s often a reason why our moods go rotten and that getting to the bottom of it can make us feel better and prevent the bad mood from returning. They explain that there are a few common causes of bad moods and offer specific strategies we can use to make ourselves feel better:
- You’re feeling guilty. Maybe you did something you feel bad about, like forgetting to meet your friend for lunch. Even if you already apologized, reach out and let them know that you’re very sorry and didn’t mean to hurt them.
- You have outstanding tasks. Maybe there’s something you need to get done but don’t want to do. Even if you can’t do it immediately, making a plan for when and how you will accomplish the task can make you feel better.
You’re brooding over a past situation. Maybe someone did something yesterday that made you upset and you keep playing it over in your head. Instead, try to remain in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past. A two-minute distraction like doing a crossword or playing a game can refocus your attention on the present.
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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Julia Cameron's "Seeking Wisdom" at Shortform .
Here's what you'll find in our full Seeking Wisdom summary :
- How to channel your spirituality into your creative endeavors
- How to begin communicating with the divine
- The types of prayers you should practice