This book about prayer, forgiveness, and healing is inspired by The Song Of Prayer – a 22-page extension of the principals of A Course In Miracles. Except for Part II of the Workbook, prayer might not seem to be a major theme of ACIM. Yet in The Song Of Prayer Jesus teaches that prayer is the greatest gift God gave us at our creation. Healing and forgiveness are useful temporary tools used to undo duality, but true prayer is eternal.
It is interesting that Jesus gave us The Song Of Prayer and the pamphlet Psychotherapy, after the apparent completion of ACIM. It is almost, as if in hindsight, that Jesus wanted to teach something important, something that was not already fully covered in the course. He also gave us The Song Of Prayer as a correction, or clarification, because of students misunderstanding ACIM teachings about prayer, forgiveness, and healing.
Because of a background in monastic life, Centering Prayer, and contemplative prayer, I value this teaching dearly. This teaching on prayer that uses the metaphor, the ladder of prayer, describes levels of prayer as the rungs on a ladder from earth to Heaven. Jesus teaches us not only how to pray, but also how not to pray. True prayer is contingent on true forgiveness. Both are necessary as we journey back to paradise lost. The integration of forgiveness and prayer leads to healing. The quality of our prayer is determined by how we are in relationship with both God and each other. Our prayer is also contingent on our sense of identity.
In The Song Of Prayer Jesus teaches us how to discern the differences between true prayer and false prayer, true forgiveness and false forgiveness, and true healing vs. false healing. In order to do this he presents many examples of false and true versions of prayer, forgiveness, and healing.
In The Song Of Prayer Jesus teaches us to leave the form that forgiveness takes up to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and not put it in an earthly frame. He uses the terms, forgiveness-for-salvation, forgiveness-to-destroy, forgiveness to kill and the word sister only in The Song Of Prayer.
The third and final chapter of The Song Of Prayer, Healing, emphasizes that true healing is of the mind. If the mind is healed of the guilt it believes in, then the mind can experience pure joy and the kind of gentle and holy death that Jesus describes in this chapter. One might expect that a course in making miracles might teach about miracles of healing, and ACIM does. The chapter Healing in The Song Of Prayer is only seven pages long, yet in unpacking that chapter, the corresponding chapter in The Ladder of Prayer kept growing larger and larger until it was 83 pages long. In an attempt to provide a more comprehensive account the ACIM’s teaching on healing I include the course’s teaching from all other parts of ACIM.
ACIM is about 1250 pages of dense, concentrated, Shakespearian style writing that is almost overwhelming in its size, style, and content. There is so much there to study, for lifetimes, that what could the 22-page teaching, The Song Of Prayer, really add to the immense course? Quite a bit, surprisingly. So much, in fact, that I decided to unpack it and share it.