The 40-day Prayer

1994: This was the year the following article appeared in Venture Inward. Timing is everything and it was the perfect time for me to practice this prayer.  It will ask of you: patience, perseverance and prayer.  Yes, I had to restart several times, but the results and lessons in humility are well worth the effort.

The 40-day Prayer by J. Everett Irion

A man in his mid-50’s who came in to see me during a conference on dream studies told me his doctors  had given him only six months to live, and that he knew he was going to hell and there was nothing that could be done about it.

He had been having a repetitive dream.  This was it:

I am standing alone looking at an empty house.  I walk around the house and look in the windows.  I back away, wondering why I am here.  Hearing a noise behind me, I turn and find a black lamb.  It says to me: “You didn’t eat the bread.” 

End of dream.

The man interpreted his dream, saying, “I know the white lamb represents the Christ and the black lamb has to be Satan, and since I did not eat the bread I am going to die and go to hell.”

I asked what had happened in that house.  He said, “It is the house my wife and I lived in before I divorced her.”

He seemed to want to make amends, so I asked if he would consider going to his wife and simply saying, “Thank you.” He looked at me in sorrow, slowly shook his head and said, “I can’t do that.  She is dead.”

Did he believe in reincarnation? I asked.  He said he did.  So I asked if he believed his wife still lived and that only her body had died.  Again, he said, “Yes, I do.”

So I suggested he try saying a little prayer to his ex-wife, and then a similar prayer to himself, leaving God out of the prayer because the prayer because their problem had been at a personal level, between them and needed to be handled on the same level –they were jointly responsible for the intimate problems that had divided them.  Without knowing what was in the prayer, he agreed.  Let’s say her name was Mary and his was John.  I asked him to say – and to mean – this simple prayer to his former wife. 

Mary, I am praying to you.  Thank you, Mary, for doing to me all that you have done.  Forgive me, Mary, for doing all that I have done to you.”

This idea of thanking her for everything came out of the simple concept that we should be thankful for everything that happens to us. Years ago I had read in The A.R.E. Journal an article by a man in the diplomatic service who had adopted the practice of saying: “Thank you, Father,” for everything that happened to him, whether it was painful or pleasurable. I have often done this in the belief that whatever happens to us  is for the good.

Next, I told the man who wanted to make amends, to say the prayer to himself – to his inner self, his unconscious – as follows:

“John, I am praying to you.  Thank you, John, for doing to me all that you have done. Forgive me, John, for doing all that I have done to you”

After one year, I received a letter from him stating: “I want to thank you for healing me,” he wrote. “From the moment I left your office I have had no more pain.  The doctors tell me I am completely healed.”

I had nothing to do with this man’s being healed, but I’m sure his prayers did. As others responded to this simple prayer, I somehow connected the prayer to the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, the 40 years Moses took to reach the Promised Land, and another 40 years wandering around, and finally to the 40 days and nights of the flood. I suggested the prayer be used for 40 days in succession.

Fast forward to the Do’s and Don’ts:

*After doing the prayer each day, put it out of your mind so the prayer can do its work undisturbed by our wishes and expectations. 

* Don’t’ tell the person to whom you are praying. Talking about it disturbs the operation of the unconscious at a very deep level.

*Keep track of the 40 days on a calendar.  If you forget and miss a day, start at the beginning of the 40-day cycle again.  Remember Moses made a mistake getting to the Promised Land and had to start all over again.

*In a crisis, the prayer can be used over a shorter period of time, instead of 40 days, use 40 hours.  Instead of 7 days, use 7 hours or 7 minutes, repeating the prayer accordingly.

*If you need help in diverting attention from the prayer and any possible results, try saying, “Thank you Father,” as often as necessary.

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