At the age of 19, a shooting star landed at the base of my spine and traveled up and out the crown of my head. I was driving at the time. Moving the car over to the side of the highway and parking, I entered a state of blissful awareness of oneness. Fleeting though it was, my experience launched an adult life dedicated to the invisible but sensed reality that is spirituality.

Within a year, I would be initiated into a yoga practice that activated Shakti, spiritual vitality, leading to multiple, frequent moments of oneness. I sensed the truth in my teacher’s refrain: “The guru is within.”

I found myself far from the religious tradition of my childhood. God no longer seemed an external, separate being. I no longer seemed a solid, separate being. Everything changed. I changed, able to resolve inner discords by attuning to inexhaustible, infinite power that I could experience and express.

I healed many years of separation from my father by claiming I AM love.

God Is Within

Years later when raising my children, I wanted a community for them in which to experience oneness. Attending my first Unity Sunday service, I heard, “There is only one power and one presence in the universe and in my life.” I wept in recognition. God is within.

Fast forwarding through a few decades of study and credentialing in Unity leadership, I was struggling with prayer. Much of what I had been reading and hearing smacked of separation, calling out to Father-Mother God or Sweet Precious Spirit. My own prayers, following the models of my teachers, became ineffectual. I hungered for the sense of oneness I had known very well but that now seemed elusive.

I resumed study, no longer toward a credentialing goal but expressly for me, to revive my prayer life in honesty and truth. With fervor, I dove into classic Unity literature on prayer. I was stunned to find key teachings that had not been emphasized in my training but resonated with my experience.

Myrtle Fillmore confirmed my inclination to tell myself the Truth of oneness:

Prayers aren't sent out at all! Sometimes that is our trouble. Where would we send our prayers? We should direct them to our minds and hearts and affairs.—Myrtle Fillmore’s Healing Letters

Charles Fillmore defined prayer as:

More than supplication; the affirmation of Truth that eternally is; the act of affirmation … the “yes” action of the mind; the act of affirming; the declaring of Truth; the mental movement that asserts confidently and persistently the Truth of Being in the face of all appearances to the contrary.—The Revealing Word

Eric Butterworth taught:

The true affirmation is: I AM. This was the key to Jesus’ power: his affirmation and realization of I AM. Not “I want to be,” “I hope to be,” “I will be someday,” or “Dear Lord, make me to be.” But simply: I AM.—The Universe is Calling

Prayer Empowers

Diving into practice with renewed purpose, I found that by acknowledging the truth of one power and describing one power in an actionable way—as life, as love, as wisdom, as strength—I transformed my experience time and again. I healed many years of separation from my father by claiming I AM love. I healed the terror I had felt about my son’s service in the Gulf War by claiming I AM faith, imagination, and unity (love). I healed a consciousness of lack when worried about money and work by claiming I AM wisdom, order, and will. Prayer led to empowerment.

Excerpted from the introduction to Discover Your Divinity: A Modern Guide to Affirmative Prayer by Linda Martella-Witsett and DeeAnn Weir Morency (Unity Books, 2023).

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Pray in a spirit of oneness

About the Author

Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett joined Unity World Headquarters in 2017 as vice president of Silent Unity®. An author (How to Pray Without Talking to God and Divine Audacity) and ordained Unity minister, she also served on the Unity Board of Directors and is a licensed Unity teacher. She was senior minister at Unity Church of San Antonio, Texas, for 13 years and served in various roles at the Unity Church of Omaha for more than 17 years. Linda has a Bachelor of Arts in leadership from Bellevue University.

Rev. Linda Martella Whitsett


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