The functional form of prayer has as many divergent points as there are religions, and these points range anywhere from requesting some Divine blessing or boon, to gaining some intimate knowledge and understanding of the Nature and existence of God. Thus, Religion and Prayer are inseparable.
Let us take a brief look at the major religions of the world and of their functional forms of prayer to see if there are any hints or signs of the Law of Attraction within them.
The Rig Veda is the principal book of hymns of Hinduism and thought to have been written some 3000 years ago, making the Veda the oldest religious text that is still used in the world today. The very first hymn of the Rig Veda is addressed to Agni, the Hindu Deity of Fire and acceptor of sacrifices. This Vedic hymn has its own the Law of Attraction saying: “Through Agni man obtaineth wealth, yes, plenty waxing day by day…”
It is interesting to note that Ancient Hindu prayers and mantras also functioned as magical incantations extolling the virtues of the Gods, who are considered to possess irresistible magical powers that can be used to solicit Divine favors for the welfare of the person or the community.
In an uncanny foreshadowing of the Law of Attraction, the ancient Buddhists also insisted that if you believe in something with enough intensity, you will become what you believe.
“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.”
– Buddha, The Dhammapada
These lines from the Dhammapada are a favorite confirmation point of the proponents of the Law of Attraction. However, one of the main tenets of Buddhism is to transcend the state of suffering – and to do that, it helps to transcend the mind by removing attachment to material things. Thus for the Buddhist, prayer is used to remove the negativity within the mind and purify it through meditation which eventually leads to ‘Awakening.’ Meditation is not used to acquire material possession or abundance.
The Jewish Rabbinical Tradition claims that God “longs for the prayer of the righteous.” Judaism recognizes three different sorts of prayer – thanksgiving, praise and requests. There is a belief in Judaism that God will take action in response to prayer, and the rabbinical tradition tells us that the more we ask God to help us, the more God will love us MORE.
Christians who buy into the Law of Attraction are fond to use this quote found in the Gospel of Mark, regarding prayer:
“Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
The 1st Epistle of John says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1John 5:14).
Thus for a prayer to be answered, it is God’s Will that must always be taken into account. But what is allowable for a Christian to pray for?
The answers are often contradictory. The Early Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine claimed that one could pray for anything as long as it was ‘legal.’ Thomas Aquinas said that praying was a waste of time since God had already decided whose prayers He will answer and no amount of prayer could ever change God’s Mind.
The Qur’an places many conditions and rules regarding prayer. A Muslim must perform the Salat- the 5 obligatory prayers that must be done at specific times during the day while facing the holy city of Mecca. The Muslim engages in an elaborate regimen of ablution, bowing, kneeling, prostrating and so on. The Muslim considers prayer as the most important factor in life after possessing a true and correct belief of God and His Prophet. The function of Prayer in Islam is to strengthen the character and deepen the connection of the faithful and is an expression of religious reverence. Basically, Muslims have no reason to pray outside of the notion that God told them to do it and that it would be good for them.
As we have seen, Prayer is one of the earliest and most popular form of the Law of Attraction. Whether the prayer is a petition for good fortune, or to curse one’s enemies, or even as a way to justify human sacrifice to lift a drought, all Prayer is the epitome of human self-interest which is a key point of the Law of Attraction. And for the Believers, the Will of the Heavenly Father always knows what is best for humanity.
The Divine Mind
A central tenet in the Law of Attraction is the emphasis placed on the magnetic and creative energy of the mind. As we have already shown, belief and practice of the Law of Attraction has always existed in one form or another, beginning in the dim past as ritual magic as a way to gain personal power from Gods or Demons. We also saw how ritual magic and incantation evolved into prayer – the respectful request for divine favor. The Gods were seen as cosmic forces with good and evil inclinations – beings, if you will, whose agendas a human could only guess at or fear.
The Ancient Greek Philosophers had a slightly different picture of cosmic forces. Obviously, they had their typical anthropomorphic Gods and Goddesses, Heroes, Golden Fleece, Mystery Cults and all of that. But the Greeks also had their own twist on the age-old pursuit of determining what made up the cosmos and how it worked. They imagined a universe as an ordered, rational process of a substance that was the source of all things. Various opinions were considered about the nature of this substance among the Greek philosophers, ranging from fire, air, water and earth. But it was the pre-Socratic philosopher Anaxagoras who came up with a cosmology in which he described the first principle as a divine Mind or Intelligence. Anaxagoras said that the physical was infinitely divisible and motionless unless moved by this Mind, which he called, ‘Nous.’
The Greek philosophers Heraclitus and Zeno both described the first cause as Logos, Greek for “Word’ or ‘Reason,’ which was an infinite, divine fire which operated in the same systematic fashion as Anaxagoras’ Nous. This Logos was a Divine Intelligence that was infused within all of existence.
Zeno and the Stoics also believed in predestination – where Humanity’s Fate was tied to a Divine Plan that Human Beings were unable to escape. Everything that happens to you is part of this Divine Plan, the Stoics said, so you might as suck it up and learn to foster indifference to events in the world, because you are not free to change anything. There are no accidents. There is no free will. Everything exists to further the Divine Plan.
In the first century CE, during the time of the historical Jesus, there was a Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria who went by the name of Philo. Philo joined Jewish and Platonic ideas into a cosmology in which he claimed that God was totally transcendent, unmoved and unconcerned about the affairs of this world. Outside of this God is eternal matter – evil and formless. Since God can have no connection to the corrupted state of the physical, the Logos, as the Reason and Spoken Word of God, functions as the mediator between God and Humanity. But by the end of the 2nd century CE, a radical new definition of Logos is presented. What was once conceived by Classical Greek philosophers as the rational Creative Principle and Divine Mediator between Heaven and Earth, is now reinterpreted by Christian theologians into the figure of the Son of God, descended to Earth in the flesh, in the bodily form of Jesus Christ.
Another important Egyptian philosopher of that era was Plotinus, who also placed a wholly transcendent, wholly unknowable and wholly indescribable God as the source of all things. This God cannot change, and thus it does not create – for that would imply change. From the source, or the One, as Plotinus called it, emanated the Divine Mind. The Divine Mind – Nous, again functions as mediator between Source and Creation, and holds all of existence, which are the Thoughts of God.
From the Divine Mind emanates the Soul. The Soul can be seen in all life forms – plant, animal and human, ordered in a hierarchy of progressively complex combinations of souls that are the outflows of the Cosmic Soul. For someone who claims that the source of creation is utterly unknowable, Philo and Plotinus sure seem to know a lot about this God.
By the time of the medieval period, Christian Theology had been heavily influenced by the teachings of St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, who each had their own interpretation of God’s Divine Plan. Augustine claimed that God knew before time who would receive His ‘Graces.’ According to Augustine, if you do not receive these graces, it’s only because God already knows that you won’t take them. Centuries later, the great Scholastic, Thomas Aquinas, taught that when we use our mind and heart according to the Divine Plan, we are united in love and knowledge and live the very life of God. And yet, this Divine Plan is unknown, which sounds a lot like Philo and Plotinus and a bit like the modern explanation Law of Attraction – where the emphasis of being “in synch” with the Divine Plan is the key in having your abundance manifest in your life.