When I was young I used to hope that heaven existed because I couldn’t bear the thought of nothingness once the light was extinguished. I am the eldest of four children and the only one never to be christened. I didn’t frequent church and I don’t remember a time that I ever believed in God. But despite being an atheist I did used to pray. I specifically remember praying that Manchester United would win the league, and I also remember praying that when I got older I would have lots of money (well one out of two is not bad). Then there was this: -
Our father in art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them our trespass against us, and deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever, and ever amen.
With the exception of a few funerals, I doubt I have uttered those words since I was in school over 20-years ago. I know they are probably not the grammatically correct words, but they won’t be far off. I remember them because we were forced to sing them each morning in school assembly, and back then I had no idea why?
I am currently in Paris working at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Grand Prix de Paris. The event is held at the Aviation Club de France (ACF) and the first time I worked here I flew in direct from a competition in Venice, Italy. I was traveling with a colleague of mine and we were both sick. We had the symptoms of the early stages of flu. They were symptoms I was familiar with, having caught flu several times in my life. I knew what would come next, and it involved spending several days sweating it out in a bed. But I couldn’t afford for this to happen. If I didn’t go to work there was nobody else who could do my job. It was a situation totally alien to me. Scared, I went to the chemist and bought myself some medicine. I then went to bed. After a few hours I could feel I was getting worse. It was then that I thought of affirmation and positive mental attitude. I started repeating this line to myself, over and over again. I must have said it hundreds of times that night.
“I will not get sick, I will not get sick, I will not get sick.”
When I woke the next morning, I was not 100%, but I knew the my illness has vanished. My friend spent the entire week lying in his hotel room suffering from the flu. I managed to work through an entire Grand Prix de Paris suffering from nothing more than a few sneezes and sniffles.
Healing Words by Larry Dossey is a book I purchased after reading Love and Survival by Dean Ornish M.D. In Love and Survival, Ornish started to draw my attention to the healing powers of love and happiness, something I had not given much thought to before. What greater incentive do you need to change your behaviour, than the understanding that if you are making your loved ones unhappy, you can also be doing them great harm both physically and mentally.
“But however badly needed a good book on prayer is, I shall never try and write it. In a book one would inevitably seem to be attempting, not discussion, but instruction. And for me to offer the world instruction about prayer would be impudence.” C.S.Lewis.
Dossey’s book is not a “How to” book on prayer. Instead it is an offering for you to set aside all of your previous judgments and beliefs about prayer, both positive and negative, and simply see what the record shows when focused through the lens of science whilst guided by thoughtful reasoning.
Was it prayer that helped me to avoid the flu in that hotel room in Paris? I guess I will never know, but the thought that it could have been prayer, is a comforting one. Healing Words is chocked full of examples of case studies and scientific proof that prayers help people. It also has examples of case studies where prayer can be used to harm people, just to remove any potential bias. It is a thoroughly interesting book and one that I recommend to anyone who is interested in improving their lives.