The words we speak and the thoughts we think reveal our beliefs and expectations. Words form impressions and have effects. Whether spoken aloud or internally, whether formed from the alphabet or felt as emotions, words declare what is and what will be, from the point of present understanding. Here is an example:
A woman new to town approached her neighbor and asked, "What are people like in this town?"
The friendly neighbor responded with a question of his own. "What were people like in the town you used to live in?"
"Oh dear." The woman hesitated. "My family and I could hardly wait to get out of that town. Everyone was unkind and distrustful."
The man on his porch shook his head from side to side while remarking, "Well, you will find that people are that way here as well."
On another day, another family moving to the same neighborhood asked, "What are people like in this town?"
The neighbor asked back, "What were they like in the town you used to live in?"
The woman replied, "We were sad to leave our home, because people in that town were wonderful, kind, and caring."
The man on his porch nodded his head in agreement and said, "Well, you will find that people are that way here as well."
The newcomers' beliefs and expectations had the power to shape their experiences. Likewise, the power of the Word is revealing, formative, and creative. Just as the beliefs and language of the women in the story will shape their future experiences, so our words in prayer shape ours.
Words Reveal Our Innermost Beliefs and Expectations
Words reveal to us our innermost beliefs and expectations. Words reveal the quality of our consciousness. Words are the keys to the heart. What we believe about ourselves, others, and the world comes out of our mouths. Our words teach us about our present unconscious assumptions.
What we believe also returns to us as feedback from the world. New Thought mystic Neville Goddard taught, "Think of the world as a sounding box, echoing and reflecting what you have assumed." ("The Incarnate Revelation" [lecture, February 20, 1969]).
Words Are Formative and Produce Effects
Words produce effects. Whether our words and thoughts spring from our own experience or from our interpretation of others' words, what we tell ourselves affects us.
Throughout my preteen and teen years, I was bombarded with messages about my body shape, which I internalized. My two older brothers called me names like Hippo Hips and Thunder Thighs. My female relatives, including my mother, reminded me time and time again that I had received the double whammy; that is, I was destined to have the shape of my female Italian peasant ancestors from both sides of the family. I felt enormous and self-conscious about it. Years later, paging through my photo album with my daughter, who by then was a teenager, I felt startled to see that I had looked lovely as a young woman.
The formative power of the word is in its effect. The effect on me as a teenager was that I saw myself as a real-life version of the words spoken about me. Words (and thoughts) affect our bodies' health and sense of well-being. Words of encouragement, worthiness, and optimism build our bodies' immune systems, whereas words of discouragement, unworthiness, and pessimism inhibit our bodies' immune systems.
Do Every Single Word and Thought Count?
Naturally, the question arises: must we worry about every fleeting word? Many New Thought teachers caution us to watch our every thought, in keeping with a narrow understanding of the power of the Word. Be careful, they warn, because every thought and every word produces.
I, for one, do not subscribe to the idea that every spur-of-the-moment, passing thought brings into fruition the literal equivalent of the thought. If this were the case, nearly every person would be a murderer several times over. How many times as a child did you wish the worst on someone — parent, teacher, babysitter, or friend? Weren't you relieved to know your angry thoughts did not result in harm?
"All words [thoughts] are formative, but not all words [thoughts] are creative," Charles Fillmore wrote. (The Revealing Word). Only our dominant, persistent thought, backed up by powerful feeling, bursts open like a germinating seed and pushes up above ground to bring forth blossoms that produce more seeds just like it. Henry David Thoreau said it like this:
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth,
so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.
To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.
To make a deep mental path, we must think over and
over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Words & Thoughts Are Creative When We Dwell Upon Them
Words and thoughts that are creative are those we dwell upon. We are not forever stuck with our first words, or thoughts, on any subject. When we pay attention to our words, we are empowered to choose them, claim them, and live out from them. In Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue (book 1), Neale Donald Walsch wrote, "When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts — thoughts that negate your highest idea about a thing — think again!"
Precisely. This is the purpose of affirmative prayer, to think again, to speak another word, an empowering word.
Copyright 2011 by Linda Martella-Whitsett.
Reprinted with permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Co.
Dist by Red Wheel Weiser, www.redwheelweiser.com
How to Pray Without Talking to God: Moment by Moment, Choice by Choice
by Linda Martella-Whitsett.
Unity minister Linda Martella-Whitsett provides a new framework for thinking about prayer that will revolutionize the lives of readers everywhere. The good news here is that you can pray without believing God; that you can have a rich and fulfilling spiritual practice without adhering to a set of creeds or dogmas.
About the Author
Linda Martella-Whitsett, winner of The 2011 Best Spiritual Author competition, is an inspiring, respected Unity minister and spiritual teacher. Linda's message about our Divine Identity inspires people across cultures and faith traditions to meet life's circumstances with spiritual maturity. Linda is the senior minister at Unity Church of San Antonio and a mentor for emerging leaders in New Thought. Visit her website at www.ur-divine.com/
Watch a video: Our Divine Nature -- with Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett