A man in New York won the state lottery not once but twice. The odds
are against winning the lottery one time. Twice is close to
Asked by reporters how he accomplished such a thing, the man said the
answer was simple: He prayed.
(My first thought upon reading this was how, exactly, this man phrased
his prayers the SECOND time he won millions of dollars. “Dear God, I
know I won a few million recently, and thanks, but I really need to
win this next one.”)
You might counter that a lot of people pray to win the lottery, but
that not everyone who prays wins.
The question is, HOW are they praying? What are they doing when it
One of the blessings NLP has let loose on humanity is the core notion
that if ONE person can do something with an adequate neurology, then
anyone else with an equally adequate neurology ought to be able to
duplicate that result.
Southern Medical Journal published a study on the effects of prayer.
Cardiac patients at a California hospital were randomly divided into
two groups. One group was prayed for, and the other group was a
control group (not prayed for). It was a double-blind study, so the patients,
doctors, and nurses did not know which group was which. Prayer groups
around the country did not know the patients personally, only their
The results were startling. The group prayed for had fewer
complications than the control group, had zero fatalities (unlike the
control group), and fewer post-op complications over-all. They also
left the hospital earlier, on average, than the control group.
If there were a drug that produced results like these, people would
line up around the block to buy the pills at their local drug store!
Wait, though, it gets better…
A group in Scotland did studies on the effects of prayer on rye
seeds. Seeds placed in a petrii dish were prayed for to grow better. The dish
of seeds was divided down the middle. One side was prayed for and the
other side was not.
The seeds prayed for grew better than the control group.
Saline (salt water) was added to the soil, making growth even more of
a challenge. The difference between the group of seeds prayed for and
the seeds not prayed for was even more dramatic with the presence of
What is exciting about an experiment like the one above is that it is
completely replicatable! Test it yourself. If you really don’t want
to experiment with rye seeds (or bacteria, as some researchers have),
then experiment with your office. Pray for some co-workers to have
wonderful things happen to them, and then notice what happens. Or pray
for your sales calls on Tuesday and Thursday to go beautifully, then
check results those days against results the rest of the week.
Researchers also found that among those who prayed for enhanced growth
of seeds, the results of people who had more experience praying was
greater than with people who were less experienced. This is important
to notice because it means the more you pray the better results you
are likely to get! (Also consider that the people perhaps MOST experienced
in saying prayers objected to participating in the research, objecting
to “putting God in a laboratory” and therefore were not included in
Distance did not make a difference, nor did putting the prayed for
item in a sealed-up safe. Something outside of space and time caused
beneficial changes. How it works is a mystery. THAT it works is
The question, though, is…
What is prayer?
You might think of it like tapping into electricity.
If you have to iron a shirt, and you are inserting the plug of the
iron into the electrical socket in the wall, you TRUST that the electricity
will be available. You don’t have knowledge or certainty that the
electricity will be there. The electricity is, strictly speaking, a
matter of faith.
(Interestingly, your faith in the existence and power of electricity
is so strong, that even if there were no power to your iron after you
plugged it in and turned it on, you would sooner think that something
was wrong with the circuitry of your iron, or the circuitry of your
home, than wonder about the existence of the electricity! Imagine
having THIS kind of faith with your prayers!)
My upbringing was Catholic, and prayer for me ever since childhood had
been of two kinds:
1. Reciting memorized prayers (such as the Our Father, the Hail Mary,
and Grace before meals)
2. Prayers for results in the world, such as “Dear God, I have a
soccer game this Thursday, so please help us win over the other team.
I’ll really appreciate it, God…”
A third way of thinking about prayer I first learned from an amazing
book called A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.
She is a student and teacher of something called A Course in Miracles,
and the approach from the Course is that prayer is about changing
troublesome ways of thinking. Prayer plugs you into a healing source
that changes what and how you perceive your world.
The universe is literally reflecting your beliefs and expectations
back to you, and the function of Prayer (aligning with Infinite
Intelligence you might say), is correcting your perceptions so that the world as it
is reflected back to you reflects the harmony of your thoughts.
True Story: Two friends of mine (a man and a woman) and I went to a
bar where another friend works. We walked in and found our way to a pool
table and weren’t there more than a few minutes when our friend who
worked there came over to the pool table. She said with a smile, “I
have already had someone ask me about you (pointing to the woman) and
you (pointing to the man).”
I remembered that these two people I had come in with were always
being flirted with when we all went out to clubs together.
I sat there feeling like Quasimodo, wondering why no one asked about
This wondering didn’t go away either, and my brain did a good job of
reminding me of all the times I had felt or been rejected by the
opposite sex all the way back to Colleen Leahy in the 2nd grade.
Feeling unattractive, undesirable, insecure, I was already having a
New to this notion of prayer as a way to heal my thinking, I got up,
walked to the men’s room, went into a stall, and said outloud in my
mind (I may have also whispered aloud) “God, there is no area of my
life where I am more neurotic and insecure than in feeling attractive
to the opposite sex. I surrender all of this to you. Please heal my
thinking about this…” I felt a little petty praying about such a
topic, but it was a comfort nonetheless to admit in this brief prayer
exactly what I was thinking and feeling. (Whether or not a Being was
listening, I certainly FELT more peaceful as a result of this
time-out.) I left the men’s room, and on my way BACK to the pool
room, incredibly, a woman got up from the table where she was sitting, stood
right in my way, and said, “I know you from somewhere.”
I looked at her and smiled. I didn’t know her. She was attractive,
friendly, and we spent two hours chatting and UNsuccessfully finding
out where we knew each other from. Finally we exchanged phone numbers
and made a date for the following night!
Now, if I had gone to the restroom and said, “Okay God, here’s what I
want: Arrange for an attractive woman to stand in my way and insist
that she knows me from somewhere. Also, make sure she is a brunette,
and is free for dinner tomorrow night.”
That would have been absurd.
A Course in Miracles is about changing your thoughts. The metaphor in the Course is that this experience of your life is a lucid dream you are having while asleep in God’s house. God is not in the dream, but your mind is literally manifesting the circumstances of your life.
Your beliefs and expectations are orchestrating events BEFORE YOU
This is consistent with the “map is not the territory” basis of NLP.
If your map is richer, so are your travels. There you are, map in
hand, looking out at the terrain, and someone is with you, next to
you. Your Divine Travel Guide, you might say…
Do-it-yourself Experiment #1: Spoken Prayer
—–> How to do it: Think of whatever is the WORST problem on your
mind, the secret problem you don’t tell others about and wish you
could press the cosmic “delete” button and remove from your life. Whatever
is between you and Peace of mind is worthy of attention here. (As you can
tell from my example above, NOTHING is too vain, petty or small to
include in the category of troublesome. If it hurts you, it needs
Find a private place and say, even if you feel silly, some variation
of the following:
“Dear God, I am (frightened/bothered/upset) about X and don’t know
what to do. Please heal my thinking about this. Please guide me to learn
through joy instead of pain. Heal my thinking, cleanse my perceptions,
that I may resolve X and be joyful as you’d have me be. I surrender this
to you completely. Thank you, God.”
For more data on prayer and scientific research on prayer, check out
any titles by Larry Dossey, M.D. such as “Healing Words”, “Prayer is
Good Medicine”, and “Be Careful What You Pray for…You Just Might Get
For an intro to A Course in Miracles, check out “A Return to Love”
(book or tape) by Marianne Williamson. For a more thorough experience,
pick up Course in Miracles (book) itself and do the workbook
portion (one lesson a day for a year).