Last time I said I’d talk about some of the ways in which your angels can help you. Many readers are not going to like this post.

Before you can understand the ways in which your angels can help you, you need to spend some time thinking about the ways in which your angels cannot help you.

This statement in itself will shock some people, because we’ve all been told again and again that God can do anything for us if we ask in the right way. Hence, the many books and workshops and rituals around prayer. We’ve been conditioned to believe that prayer is a powerful form of mystical energy, as it were, a powerful form of mystical energy that can change the world if properly invoked.

Indeed, so central is prayer to the experience of conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christianity that if you were to remove all the prayers from the worship services (e.g. the Anglican Book of Common Prayer), there’d be precious little left.

Which is exactly my point.

In a world where human beings are called upon to juggle the 4D needs of the soul and the 3D needs of the body in a balanced, holistic, seamless way, there’s something wrong with a religious experience that lets you off easy if you say a bunch of prayers. In most cases, you don’t even have to write the prayers yourself. You just have to copy what the prayer leader is saying!

Thutmose III offering two containers of incense to the god Amun. Reproduction from the 18th Dynasty (15th century BCE) original at Deir el-Bahri, Egypt, on display at the Royal Ontario Museum. The idea that you can open the door to God’s blessings by saying the right prayer or offering the right gift is very, very old. As Jesus tried to point out, the fact that a religious idea is old is no guarantee that it’s right.

I’ve taken university theology courses that teach prospective ministry students how to design worship services and write prayers, and believe me, there’s no great mystery involved. Ya just gotta follow the traditional prayer formulas and string together a lot of popular cliches about faith and peace and love, and, presto!, ya got yerself a pretty new prayer to recite on Sunday. Piece of cake.

The real question is, will God or your guardian angels pay any attention to you as you dutifully recite these prayers?

Well, this depends on two things. The first factor is your own personal intent or “meta-choice.”* The second factor is the relationship you already have with God. These two factors are intertwined with each other.

Maybe I should start by explaining that although I’m a practising mystic, I stopped praying to God years ago. In place of traditional prayer, I’ve learned to communicate with God.

But aren’t prayer and communication with God the same thing, you’re saying?

They’re only the same thing if (1) part of your personal meta-choice is to learn each day from your own mistakes and if (2) you have faith that God and God’s angels are going to intervene in your life whether or not you ask for help.

Prayer, as it’s traditionally understood, starts with the assumption that God hears and acts upon the words you say in prayer, but that until you actually “open your heart” by speaking the prayers, God is standing helplessly but hopefully on the other side of the divine door as he waits for you to ask.

In my rather large collection of books that contain what I feel are “toxic teachings,” I have a gem called Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony DeStefano (New York: Image Books/Doubleday, 2007). On the cover there’s a stamp that says, “Endorsed by the National Day of Prayer,” so right off the bat you can tell I’m going to have a problem with the content.

DeStefano outlines what he sees as the top ten questions people ask in their lives. He then offers a prayer you can use to answer each of these questions in turn.

So for the No. 1 Question — “I Wish I Could Believe” — DeStefano says you should use this prayer — “God, please show me that you exist” — again and again until “God starts to reveal himself to you (page 22).”

Says the author (pages 23-24):

“And it all starts with one simple prayer: God, please show me that you exist.

There is a beautiful nineteenth-century painting that illustrates this point well. It’s called The Light of the World. In it, Christ is shown holding a lantern, standing outside a little cottage on a dark, stormy night. He is knocking on the door of the home, waiting to be let in, but the occupant, unseen behind the door, does nothing. The figure of Christ, bathed in a golden green light, is supremely serene and looks as if he is prepared to stay outside the cottage door knocking forever. It is a striking image because of what it says about the light of truth in a dark world. But the really interesting thing about the painting is that there is a curious detail missing. If you look closely at the door of the home, you will see that there is not a knob or a latch anywhere to be found. Why? It can’t be that the artist forgot to put it in. Rather, he was making a sublime theological point: the door to the human heart can be opened only from the inside. God will never force his way in.”

Oh, let me swoon for the wonder of having a divine father who’ll stand outside knocking on a dark and stormy night because he cares whether or not I’m going to make it into heaven (page 4)! He cares what will happen to me on Judgment Day and doesn’t want me to have to go to Hell! Because he loves me sooooo much that he created all sorts of stupid things he can’t do anything about — things like Judgment Day and Atonement and angels that fall (like Satan) and Original Sin and Hell! I’m just so lucky that he cares enough to stand outside the door knocking, knocking, ever so patiently knocking!

Yeah, this sounds like Divine Love to me . . .

DeStefano thinks that after you open your heart to God, God will step through the door and into your heart. Once this happens, of course, you’ll become an instrument of God — which is Prayer No. 2 in this book. When you say repeatedly that you want God to make you an instrument (i.e. an empty vessel of service and “mercy”), what you’re actually asking for is religious humility. (Just so we’re clear on the intent of the “God, make me an instrument” prayer).

And then, because you’re now an empty vessel through whom God works, you have to use four of your “Top Ten” Prayers just to fill you up with various graces from God: “God, forgive me (No. 5). God, give me peace (No. 6). God, give me courage (no. 7). God, give me wisdom (No. 8).”

If you start your journey on the Spiral Path with the same assumptions that DeStefano advocates, you’re going to have some serious trouble understanding the messages of your own guardian angels. Why? Because angels don’t believe any of this shit. They’re operating from an entirely different set of truths, and they ain’t gonna budge on their truths, no matter how much you think they should.

Your angels know that God never enters your own core being, your own soul (i.e. “entering your heart,” as DeStefano describes it), because to do so would be a terrible violation of your own personal boundaries as a core consciousness and child of God. God is God, and you are you, and ne’er the twain shall meet. God will tap you on the shoulder. God will frequently hold your hand. God will sit beside you and talk to you for hours. God will sometimes pick you up and carry you for a while. But don’t EVER ask God to “come inside and fill you up,” because from God’s point of view this request feels like a creepy and incestuous form of contact. (Sorry to be so blunt, but you need to know what it feels like from God’s perspective, not from your status-addicted preacher’s perspective.) This is one of the few permanent rules you should keep in mind as you move forward on the Spiral Path: always treat God the Mother and God the Father in the respectful manner you’d treat your human parents. They’re your parents, not your lovers.

Your angels also know that it isn’t up to God or God’s angels to give you peace or courage or wisdom. You already have those strengths inside your core self, your own soul. Your job is not to ask to be given those things, but to ask how to remember those things which are already part of you.

(If this sounds like the plot of The Wizard of Oz, it’s because The Wizard of Oz has some timeless things to say about the spiritual journey.)

Third, your angels don’t wait for you to ask before they intervene in your life. They step in whenever and wherever they please. Why? Because they care about you, and they know it’s difficult and confusing to live as a 4D-soul-in-temporary-human-form.

If angels see a problem brewing, they don’t stand there knocking endlessly on the other side of the door (like Sheldon knocking on Penny’s door in The Big Bang Theory). I mean, what would be the good of that? Do you really want a guardian angel who stands there wringing his hands helplessly until you use the “right prayer,” the one with the “right mystical energy” that suddenly opens the door so God can walk in?

In my experience, angels don’t beat around the bush. They come right out and say what they’re thinking — even if (as is usually the case) you don’t want to hear it.

God and God’s angels are always talking. They’re a very chatty bunch, in fact. And they like to talk to each other — you know, pass along information about what you’re actually thinking and feeling instead of what you say you’re thinking and feeling.

You can fool some of the people some of the time, and a few of the people all of the time. But you can never, ever fool a guardian angel.

They always know your true intent. And they always have an opinion on your true intent. Which is a good thing, because this way they can guide you to the people and ideas and books (etc.) that can help you learn more about healing, forgiveness, and redemption.

As I said in an earlier post, angels aren’t wusses.

* For more on intent and meta-choices, see “Knowledge” Versus “Truth” and Pelagius and Personal Responsibility.