Deep in each one of us there is an inner pull toward some higher form of life. An underlying but insistent urge prompts us to look toward something greater than ourselves—like the flower that innately turns to the sun— and seek for more than we already encompass. This inner impelling force may not always be recognized, but in most of us it results in some form of more enlightened living, whether inner spiritual belief or outer practical spiritual service.
Around this inner force are to be found the many techniques of spiritual progress, the practices of the different religions, the methods of bridging between the outer and the inner life, and of blending the material and the spiritual to express a new and vital "whole."
Prayer has always been the lifeline between the outer and inner worlds—between each of us and God—and forms a magnetic channel for the sustaining force that we all require.
Four Kinds of Prayer:
- Petitionary prayer for personal benefits, help, grace, virtues, and/or healing
- Intercessionary prayer for others
- Prayers of thanksgiving, praise or adoration
- Contemplative prayer, in which the individual seeks to encounter the divine presence at the intuitive level of consciousness
Meditation differs from prayer in that it is primarily an orientation of the mind and brings about realizations and recognitions that become formulated knowledge. Meditation is not an abstract activity as it is frequently considered to be. It entails concentration, reflection, understanding, a clear conception and formulation of ideas and thoughts, and then consideration and visualization of ways and means of bringing them to outer expression. While prayer will always be a foundational approach for many of us, the present-day development of intellect demands a more mental form of inner action: meditation of a creative nature and having a positive and scientific method of working with spiritual laws.
Affirmation is a method that addresses the need to work consciously with spiritual laws. It includes both prayer and meditation.
Invocation is a synthesis of these three; the simultaneous, combined activity of
- prayer (feeling and/or intuition)
- meditation (mind)
- affirmation (will)
It is this synthesis that gives invocation a potency as yet unrealized. Invocation means "calling down," or "calling into." It is a demand, an appeal to something higher, asking for help or intervention. The same can be said of prayer, but there is an important difference between the two. In its specific sense, prayer is the heart approach, where "heart" spans multiple levels of consciousness. Invocation, on the other hand, is an inner action that includes and combines the use of all our inner functions. It is a simultaneous activity of the mind (meditation), of feeling and intuition (prayer), of the imagination (visualization), and of the will (affirmation). It is obvious that this comprehensive and synthesized action of our whole being, when rightly carried out, gives invocation a potency incomparably greater and richer than the separate use of any single inner activity.