The Prayer That Changed My Life
Continued from yesterday…
When I found myself in a spiritual crisis, shortly after I moved to California, I had to be willing to admit to myself that I was not free. I had influence among my peers around the world. I was a success in my field, and I had the money I needed for comfort, but inside I was not free.
I was hostage to a plethora of negative and often subconscious thoughts that would fluctuate between self-importance, self-grandeur, and self-loathing. Beneath it all were subconscious doubts about my worth.
Plunging further into my despair, I was reminded of something Jesus said: You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free. If Jesus was correct, and truth would make me free, I wanted to know what the truth was. My immediate thought was, “I have spent my entire life sharing my faith around the world, and people have validated me for that. Therefore, what I already believe must be the truth.”
Yet I was faced with a troubling conundrum. If I’m not free, then I must be missing something about the essence of truth. I believed I had found the truth that makes one free, but my inner struggles and pain demonstrated an opposing reality. So right there in my misery, I silently prayed something like this to God:
“If you are real, then show me the truth, because I want to be free. No matter where it takes me, I want to know the truth more than anything else.”
Immediately I felt a peace rush over me. I was opening my heart to whatever would give me the freedom that I desired. But it didn’t take long for fear to interrupt my peace. Words that I had heard and used in my attempts to help people all my life came rushing back.
Don’t question what you believe.
Don’t open yourself to wrong ideas.
Be careful that you don’t turn away.
For a moment I found myself paralyzed in my fear. Was I about to miss the truth?
Looking back I recognize how religious systems bend toward self-preservation, and how my thoughts in that moment were shaped by a system that requires conformity to survive. When we step out of line and question the system, like I was about to in that questioning moment, we will invariably get shamed and ostracized. The system may not always be wrong, but the fear and insecurity it creates in us holds us hostage to it. As a result, we are not free.
As I continued to think about being a seeker of the truth, I was reminded of how Jesus stated that a good father (God) gives good gifts to his children when we simply ask—even more so than our earthly parents. I knew I had asked for a good gift, and felt assured that I was on the right path. My heart desired freedom, and knowing the truth would get me there.
To be continued tomorrow…
Adapted from Section 1 of Awakening To I Am Love by David Youngren
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