Tracking Prayer Changes Through the Years

Prayer is an ancient spiritual practice that is timeless in some ways and ever-changing in others. Unity was founded on affirmative prayer and has been praying with anyone who asks for 130 years, but it, too, has changed. The language used in prayer and even concepts of God have taken different forms over time. The books Unity has published about prayer—from the founders to the modern day—reflect that variety and evolution.

The early books used traditional Christian language to describe prayer, whereas today’s language is grounded in oneness, principle, and our own divinity. Yet they all focus on turning within to our spiritual nature, becoming aware of our constant connection to Spirit, and affirming the good in any circumstances.

Below is an overview of Unity books about prayer—what it is, why to do it, and how to do it. All these books are recommended, but some might resonate with you more than others, depending on how best you commune with the Divine. To make prayer more effective, it’s important to contemplate what we think prayer is and what we imagine God to be. These authors address those deep questions and offer fascinating ways to approach prayer.

Unity Books on Prayer

Effectual Prayer (1927)
Frances W. Foulks

Praying effectively, Foulks writes, is a matter of relaxing, removing any blocks to Source energy, and allowing our good to flow. Effectual Prayer offers seven steps of prayer, from preparation to praying from our own divine nature. The book includes a long section called “Meditations for the High Watch” that Foulks said were revealed to her in times of trouble. Foulks was a Kansas City businesswoman who became a Unity student and practiced healing others alongside Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore, who encouraged Foulks to write.

Effectual Prayer by Frances W. Foulks

Teach Us to Pray (1941)
Charles and Cora Fillmore

This book was written together by Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore and his second wife Cora. They said we have been taught for so long to ask God for what we want that we have become “praying beggars.” Instead, they said, we can make direct, conscious contact with Spirit. They wrote, “As we practice this kind of prayer our innate Spirit showers its life energies into our conscious mind and a great soul expansion follows.” This book focuses on prayer as taught by Jesus with plenty of biblical backup and metaphysical interpretation.

Teach Us to Prey by Charles and Cora Fillmore

Handbook of Positive Prayer (1984)
Hypatia Hasbrouck

Hypatia Hasbrouck was a longtime Unity minister who collected and adapted various prayer techniques, then gathered them in this book. She does not simply teach that prayer is a worthwhile practice—she teaches how to pray. Handbook of Positive Prayer is full of exercises, tools, specific steps, and practices to use in creating your personal prayer life.

Hasbrouck explains the meaning of affirmative prayer and why we use the word amen. She writes extensively about visualization as a form of prayer. She makes suggestions for prayer journals, prayer partners, prayer letters, and a nine-hour prayer vigil or novena to create peace of mind in any circumstances. She teaches how to construct prayers using scripture, and she backs up her teachings with lessons from the Bible that might surprise you.

Handbook of Positive Prayer by Hypatia Hasbrouck

The Universe Is Calling: Opening to the Divine Through Prayer (1993)
Eric Butterworth

Eric Butterworth was a legendary Unity author praised for his wisdom by both Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou. In this book about prayer, he said the same thing Charles Fillmore was saying 50 years earlier—that our fundamental concept of God must change before we can experience true connection with the Divine.

Instead of praying to an imperialistic and remote God, Butterworth encourages praying from a consciousness of God. In this awareness, he wrote, “prayer is not something you say or do to God. It is something you consciously let God do to and through you.” Butterworth outlines the spiritual principles behind prayer and offers techniques to guide you.

The Universe is Calling: Opening to the Divine Through Prayer by Eric Butterworth

Setting a Trap for God: The Aramaic Prayer of Jesus (1997)
Rocco A. Errico

Setting a trap for God means creating an opening in your life and consciousness for the inexhaustible power of the Divine, which may show up as healing, prosperity, guidance, or understanding. Rocco A. Errico is an authority on the Aramaic language Jesus spoke and on ancient Semitic culture. Words and ideas we think we understand often have a completely different meaning in the context of the Middle East as it was 2,000 years ago, especially considering the layers of meaning in the Aramaic language. In this book, Errico focuses on the specific meaning of words in the Lord’s Prayer.

Setting a Trap for God: The Aramaic Prayer of Jesus by Rocco A. Errico

Discover Your Divinity: A Modern Guide to Affirmative Prayer (2023)
Linda Martella-Whitsett and DeeAnn Weir Morency

If we know we are one with God, then how do we pray? This book is for readers who are already familiar with New Thought but want to learn more about affirmative prayer and what is sometimes called oneness language. It explains how the universal spiritual principles taught in Unity support our prayer practice.

Rather than listing rigid steps to prayer, the authors—both Unity ministers and premier prayer teachers in New Thought—see prayer as a flow, moving from one phase to the next like an unfurling fern frond. Affirmations are unpacked in detail—what they are, how to use them, how to create them, and also how to balance them with releasing what is undesired.

The last quarter of the book is addressed to ministers, chaplains, and those who are called upon to pray out loud with others one on one. Also check out Martella-Whitsett’s earlier book, How to Pray Without Talking to God: Moment by Moment, Choice by Choice.

Discover Your Divinity: A Modern Guide to Affirmative Prayer by Revs. Linda Martella-Whitsett and DeeAnn Weir Morency

God Is! The Prayer for Protection (2023)
James Dillet Freeman

This is the world-famous “Prayer for Protection” in a beautifully illustrated board book for young children. (“The light of God surrounds you, the love of God enfolds you …”) Use it as an early lesson in affirmative prayer and reassurance that a child is never alone.

God Is! The Prayer for Protection board book by James Dillet Freeman

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