The purpose behind positive affirmations and prayer is simply expressed in Romans 12:2, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Positive affirmations and prayers, as viewed by Holistic/New Thought advocates, seek nothing less than total life transformation and empowerment through changing our thoughts and keeping them changed. A key principle in New Thought is the Law of Mind Action, also called the Law of Attraction, which says "thoughts held in mind produce after their kind".
There are many ways to express this idea that like attracts like:
- as in mind, so in manifestation; as in heaven, so on earth;
- as above, so below (Hermetic Axiom);
- “you can only get what you can take (understand);
- "them that has, gets."
This goes along with what philosophers refer to as idealism - belief that the world is really made up of thoughts or mind or spirit. Its opposite is materialism, belief that the world is made up of material "stuff" that one can measure.
In the longstanding battle between science and religion, idealists generally represented religion and materialists represented science. Ironically, physics, the king of sciences, the yardstick by which other sciences are measured, has now moved toward idealism with the discoveries of Quantum Physics. British scientist Sir James Jeans remarked that the universe looked like nothing so much as a giant thought.
If this is a universe of thought, then changing one's thoughts changes the universe. Thus, change your thoughts, change your reality. Positive affirmations and prayer (along with hypnotherapy, guided visualizations, and neuro-linguistic programming) are the primary tools for changing our thoughts.
Prayer, as a psychological tool, develops our consciousness and personality by a) changing consciousness or attitudes through self-surrender and b) giving as opposed to actually receiving something from a higher force. Observe some of the prayers used by spiritual leaders or saints. For example, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love.... where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy" or "Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console... to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love..."
In prayer, we ask to be better instruments of the Lord in serving others, in transforming our personality to a higher level of consciousness with such dominant qualities as love, joy, understanding, giving, forgiving, compassion, etc. Through repetition of prayer, these attributes or attitude changes actually manifest as we become humble, calmed, and centered. We might look at prayers as invocations, bringing higher consciousness down into our present state of consciousness; whereas, meditation is a convocation, raising consciousness up to a higher level of consciousness.
Inspirational Metaphysical Affirmations
When William James, father of modern psychology, wrote his chapter on mind-cure--mostly New Thought--in his classic study, The Varieties of Religious Experience, he appropriately titled the chapter "The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness." In it he guards against the view that "the happiness which a religious belief affords [is] a proof of its truth." But he takes note of "persons in every age, passionately flinging themselves upon their sense of the goodness of life, in spite of the hardships of their own condition, and in spite of the sinister theologies into which they may be born." James hopes that we all have some friend . . . whose soul is of this sky-blue tint, whose affinities rather with flowers and birds and all enhancing innocence than with dark human passions, who can think no ill of man or God, and in whom religious gladness, being in possession from the outset, needs no deliverance from any antecedent burden.
Although the religion of healthy-mindedness may be "a deliberately optimistic scheme of life," much of it is spontaneous, and this may be found in its literature, some of which James found "so moon-struck with optimism and so vaguely expressed that an academically trained intellect finds it almost impossible to read it at all." But this may be at least partly because of the essentially mystical quality of many of New Thought's utterances. As James is famous for observing, one of the marks of mystical experience is its ineffability: "it defies expression, . . . no adequate reports of its contents can be given in words." However any of this may be, it seems appropriate for us to conclude this book with some possibly moon-struck lines expressive of both the experiences underlying New Thought and consistent with the best attempts of philosophy to express the inexpressible.
These lines implement the teachings of this book, put into terms that one can use as jumping-off points for meditation, for conveying truths that have roots deeper than any philosophy can state. These truths must be felt as well as understood.
I am love. I am the great Givingness of God (or all reality) centered in myself. I am the awareness of generosity flowing forth to everyone and everything everywhere. I am the abundance of God bursting forth unreservedly in my life and in all those with whom I have any contact (and in some degree that is everyone and everything). I am a process through whom God enriches the universe.
I am joy. I am the bubbling, laughing, smiling, charming spirit of all reality, coming forth through my awareness. I am God's playmate, a small but indispensable source of God's joy, God's satisfaction. Even when I may not feel that I am a source of joy to myself, I have some awareness that my often stumbling growth is a source of satisfaction to God, even as a child's first efforts at walking are occasions for joy to the parent, who knows that great strides are in the offing.
I am God's unique project. I am the bursting forth of goodness, of strength, of beauty, of humor, of cussedness, of ordinariness, of almost angelic balance, of splendid uniqueness. I am an opportunity for God to accomplish something marvelous as me. I let God do it! I join wholeheartedly in the divine adventure of making something splendid that never has been before in the whole history of humanity. I hardly can wait to see what God and I shall make! I'm ready, God; let's go! You lead the way and I'll do my best to embody you in the fullness of beautiful accomplishment. I'll not waste time regretting that I didn't join in the fun more fully long ago. I let that past be past, as I relish the present, in which we happily co-create.
I am abundance. I am the richness of the universe centered in myself, radiating forth to everyone. I am the security that only awareness of unity with God can give. I am that which cannot fade, that cannot disappear, that is ever new and abundant. I am the certainty of divine assurance, the confidence of perfect power, perfect repose.
I am co-creator of my life. Never do I go it alone. Never do I lack guidance. Never am I without perfect companionship divine and, in whatever degree I choose it human. I have never created on my own; it has always been in cooperation with God, who gave the perfect ideas, the perfect possibilities even when I didn't listen. But now I KNOW; now I am open and aware that God and I work together; that neither God nor I can make this little bit of reality centered around me, without the contribution of the other.
I am perfect peace. I am so unshakably confident of the presence of the God who is perfect love that I have no fear, no trembling, no uncertainty that could undermine my confidence. I am perfectly at ease. I know that I have given my life to God for perfect divine guidance and for uncritical acceptance. I allow the alchemy of love to work its wondrous way in my life. I give up all striving on my own, now that I know that God and I are partners, I the junior, happily cooperating with my Senior Partner.
I am endless enthusiasm. I enthusiastically accept God's magnificent gift of fresh ideas every moment. I know that the whole universe is present to me and providing all that I ever could need or want, in the context of God's guidance. I am eager to see what loving gift God will give me this moment and every one after it.
I am thankfulness unimaginable. I am so grateful for God that I could shout, and in my own quiet or boisterous, outrageous way I do! I let my life shout my appreciation of God. I don't need to talk about it, and I'm wise enough not to, except when people in words or their other ways make it clear that they'd like to get more consciously into the divine act. Then I tell them what I can, but mostly I invite them to turn within and discover the glory that they have been hiding and maybe denying for decades. As they grow, we grow together in the company of the smiling ones who blossom forth in common joy, yet unique in each expression of it.
I am free choice. I realize that the essence of my life is freedom of choice. I am not poured into anyone's mold. I am not determined by the past. I am free to choose from the alternatives provided by the pattern of the past and by the perfect possibilities, the enlightened ideas, that God offers to me.
I am perfect paradox. I am the silence that hollers. I am the stillness that dances. I am the beginning that is the end. I am the newness that is ancient. I am the here that is everywhere. I am eloquence without words. I am human that is divine. I am the divine that is garbage. I am the trees that walk. I am the impossible possibilities. I am something so great that it is nothing. I am so fully that I scarcely care whether I am at all. I know without knowing. I weep with neither sadness not apparent joy. I am I AM, yet ever i.
I am born anew. Not born again, for I have never been before. Yet I contain the ages. All wisdom is mine. But I know nothing other than the freshness of original birth. I have all that I could ever want, even when I forget it. Then I am new again in another first birth.
I am me. I note my immediate surroundings, and they are not-me. I become aware of my body, and I allow it to relax. I become aware of my thoughts, and I allow them to slow, and then cease. I become still, and centered, waiting in the silence. I begin to expand. I become aware that I am one with the entire space I occupy. I expand still further, until I include the town, the state, and the continent. I feel the oceans beating on my shores, the mountains rising in my midst, the sky overhead. I continue to expand, until I include the planet, light on one side, dark on the other. I am the solar system, the galaxy, the universe. I am one. The Love that made me, is me, as me. Somehow, everything is as it should be. Disasters, wars, cruelty, waste, disappointment, loss, are all part of the same Whole as beauty, love, peace. Chaos resolves into higher order. The divine plan continues steadily, resolutely, dependably. The darkness drops away, and all that remains is light and love. All is well.
The Optimist Creed
Promise Yourself -
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.
To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
The following version, without the title "The Optimist Creed," is quoted from Science of Mind 71 (June 1998): 50.