Sermon – Comm-Unity On the Hill Congregation, Washington, D.C.*
Rev. Robbins S. Hopkins, Ed.D.
Thank you for asking me to speak. It is delightful to be here this morning. The question I am exploring today is, “What is authentic prayer”? Just plain and simple, authentic prayer is prayer that works. It is prayer that brings results. It is prayer that produces energy shifts. Authentic Prayer is powerful business. Well then, how do we accomplish this?
The Bible has a few things to say to us about prayer.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds ….” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18).
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).
Atlantic Beach HDR Sunset – Explored by L1mey
The week before Hurricane Irene, exactly 7 days before it hit this area, we decided last minute to book a house in North Carolina for the week for my husband and myself. We have been going to the beach in August for 41 years and we realized we were not going to go because none of our family were free to join us. We discussed this at length and decided to make a reservation and take a weeks’ vacation just for us. That felt very wonderful, celebratory in fact! One day later, we realized that there was a Tropical Storm in the Atlantic. We thought, we had better arrange for trip insurance in case something more serious became of this storm. We called for the insurance and were told that we could not get insurance now because there was a named storm in the Atlantic, specifically now called IRENE. So, my energy was very focused on this storm not only because of this reservation but also because I had been going to the North and South Carolina coasts literally all my life except for 4 years when were lived overseas.
So the prayers began in earnest. Every time I went into prayer, I got the feeling I was simply nipping at the heels of Hurricane IRENE. I did all the things I usually do in working at the global level but I could not feel any shifts in energy which is how I know the prayers have been effective. One day about the 4thday into the prayer effort, I finally asked in sacred space, “How do we do this?” I was feeling overwhelmed and completely under effective. Someone had shared with me that the Hurricane itself covered an area as large as Arizona. This left me totally amazed. I could feel the power and strength of Irene when in prayer and something I called powerful fury but I did not know how to address it in prayer.
*Comm-Unity on the Hill, meets at 10 Street and G Street, N.W. in jointly shared space with First Congregational Church of Washington D.C.. Services begin at 1 PM on Sundays. Comm-Unity can be reached at email@example.com or 703-379-4450 . All are welcome.
** This sermon was preceded by a guided meditation for the congregation. This was offered October 2011
I am an ordinary mystic. This means I spend loads of time in Silence and in communication with all forms of Divine Presence and I also live in society. From the outside I usually look pretty normal in the clothes I wear and the company I keep. I have a home in the suburbs. I have been happily married 37 years and have two sons in their 20s. I have gradually come to embrace my ordinary nature and my mystical nature publicly though the knowing has been inside a long time.
I realized one day that I was beginning to really feel that God and I were One. I felt it deeply and uncompromisingly in meditation. From those feeling I began to see all other distinctions about who I was, what I was doing, why I was here, and what I was facing, begin to melt away. Therefore, the seeming contradictions I had silently harbored of the mystic and the mother, or the mystic and the wife or the next door neighbor were really not contradictions, but merely different views of the whole that is me.
What I mean by God and I are One is this. The Love, Passion, Power, Knowing and Light of God is the same Light of which I am made. There is no difference except in my seeing this as indeed true. I now feel this knowing has been true all my life and perhaps all my other lives as well. And it is true for everyone in body regardless of what is going on in our lives. We simply have to release the deep fears we have and call in Spirit to be with our Deepest Companion and Friend, The Beloved.
It is possible that I may have done this ordinary mystic thing before. It feels much better now that both the ordinary me and mystical me have found each other. Before this time, I had lots and lots of indications that major parts of my life were out of balance. I had chronic, deeply serious back pain for 18 years. I spent a lot of time defending myself whether I was leading a workshop or managing a dorm of 55 adolescent girls. I spent a great deal of time, it seems to me now, getting angry at even the tiniest challenge to my right to be fully independent, competent and powerful as a woman. I more than once laid into my brothers or my dad, men of the deep South, if they even hinted that I was “just a girl”.
I did not suffer fools gladly. In fact, I embraced confrontation on a regular basis. But all this was very wearing. It was not fun and it was certainly not in balance. So, there was a warrior spirit alive and well within me long before there was a peaceful spirit revealed. Perhaps that had to be, so that I could even find a mystical path. For the signs to introspection are not easily seen, nor culturally supported, nor readily embraced by most humans in body. However, for whatever reason, I was pulled into a greater and greater balance in part, a great part, by my eldest son.
Our first child, a son, came as the happiest, smiling person one could imagine. We even called him smiley face, a lot.
When he was 10 he had what was considered routine surgery for a benign cyst in his jaw, discovered during the process of getting braces. That began our odyssey into the world of medicine, fear, pain, loss, trauma and anguish. When he came out of the surgery, he was a completely different person energetically. He had lost his smile and many other aspects of his personality. He was unable to study, focus, go to school, go to sleep or interact with anyone at all, in the way he had before. He had so loved his lego creations and had spent hours creating happily by himself. After the surgery, he would sit and simply not be able to create anything. He was glum and withdrawn.
The surgeon declared the surgery a full success. We knew differently however. We were the ones sitting with him as he cried and raged 2-4 hours every day for months and months, and months. We were the ones sitting with him until 2 or 3 in the morning when he might or might not fall asleep.
The first year, we saw 27 doctors and psychologists trying to get help. I stopped my work to take care of him. I had to. He was out of school for months and had all types of strange new behaviors. He would suddenly freeze and stare as if blinded like a deer caught in the headlights. He would fall down and shake or sometimes he would simply withdraw and not be able to converse.
We went and went, searching for medical help and the going wore us all out. After 12 months our son came to my husband and me one night and said he could not go to any more doctors, they were not helping him. I cried myself to sleep that night with the deep fear that we would never find someone to help us if he would not go anymore to doctors. We had been having great toughs of war for the past 3 months about going to doctors at that time.
In a great state of fear, I thought the only thing left for us was to really, really pray together, out loud and ask God to help us. We had done all we could possibly do ourselves and it was not working. Amazingly, my husband and I had not actually sat down together and prayed about this with God in the past year since it had all begun. We did pray together, out loud and things began to change almost immediately. At the time, we really did not know what had actually happened to our son. He had had the surgery and then had to take his braces off and he had to go to eye therapy after the surgery but we had no sense of the source of the imbalances for him.
After our evening of praying together, however, we were led just a surely as if God took us by the hand out of the dark times into the Light.
Our son took 2 years to appear mostly healed to us with some remaining remnants of those times still showing up for the next 12 years or so. This experience catapulted me completely and wholly into spiritual healing. Our experience dramatically affected our entire household in the most profound and unexpected ways. We each know Spirit in individual and specific ways because of what we all went through together.
Come forward with me 16 years and here is what I have learned spiritually.
Spiritual health is THE basis of all health , happiness and well being. Spiritual health and physical health are one and the same though we do not live our lives this way, for the most part. We still think of healing and health as a physical phenomenon. We still act as if the recurring pain we have originates in the body. We and most of the medical profession look at health strictly through the lens of the body.
Our bodies are the encasing of our consciousness, of our knowing of All That Is. Every nerve, fiber, cell and pathway daily reflects our sense of peace as well as our sense of anxiety. Our bodies are no more than the outer casing for our consciousness. We either exude joy, peace and delight or we exude burden, stress and regret and everything in-between. The choice is ours. We are our thoughts, our feelings, our traumas, our fear and our hopes all rolled into one bundle, we know as the body.
*Comm-Unity on the Hill is a Unity Congregation which meets on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Hearst Hall at the corner of Woodley Ave. and Wisconsin Ave,N.W., Washington, D.C. Services are weekly on Sundays at 10 A.M. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-379-4450. All are welcome.