The Eleventh Principle of A Course in Miracles

Prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of communication of the created with the Creator. Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed (T-1.I.11:1-3).

A Course in Miracles, located in the Christian tradition, offers students a non-dualistic approach to understanding and living in reality. It emphasizes a practice of forgiveness as the means to remembering that God is Love, and that we are not separate from God. Forgiveness sees past the inherent unreliability of perception and thus remembers only what is real.

Prayer is the means by which ACIM forgiveness – e.g., the simple but radical practice of not seeing sin or error at all because it is not real – becomes not merely theoretical but both possible and practical. The Course, as its scribe observed, is meant to lived, not merely discussed.

On this view of the Course, miracles are not supernatural events that violate the laws of nature – like, say, walking on water or feeding five thousand people with a few loaves of bread – but rather shifts in perception that allow us to see the world differently, and to know reality outside the illusion of duality imposed on us by the body’s senses, the physical world and the ego’s self-centered interpretation of that world.

Miracles shift our focus away from perception – which is fundamentally interpretative, which is why it is cherished by ego – and towards knowledge, which does not need to interpret anything. Knowledge is that which cannot be touched by doubt. You know that your hands are yours, for example. If you need to pick up a cup of coffee, you don’t have to file paperwork with somebody else to have them do it.

Descartes was gesturing at this when he famously observed that the thought of the self was the one thing that could not be denied.

In ACIM, prayer is a crucial component of this shift in perception – this transition from fear to love – because it opens up a channel of communication between ourselves and reality, which we symbolize as God or the Divine.

When A Course in Miracles says that prayer is “the medium of miracles,” it means that prayer is the means by which we gain access to the Divine and partake of the transformative power of Love which is the Divine. We realize the nature of reality and stop resisting it. We become curious and open. In our acceptance, we become co-creators of peace rather than solitary soldiers engaged in an hopeless war, the origins of which we’ve forgotten.

In other words, prayer is not a request for something we want or believe we need – like a cure for cancer, a winning lottery ticket or a new job or partner. Rather, it is an intentional practice of aligning our will with God’s Will. This is easy to talk about and hard – really hard – to actually do. Ego fights back, distorting and confusing us, forever alienating us from remember that God’s Will is Love, that that Love includes everyone and everything, and accepts no conflict whatsoever.

Given to egoic logic, it is easy to convince ourselves that we have accomplished some divine union, and have reached some state of insight or grace that sets us apart from others, especially when prayer makes us happy by producing results we deem positive. But this is not what ACIM is talking about when it talks about prayer.

True prayer in the understanding and practice of A Course in Miracles is a way to let go of ego – its stories, its arguments, its threats, its distractions – in order to discover what we are in truth, which ego can denigrate and deny but can never destroy. Creation lies beyond the reach of ego; that is why our safety rests in defenselessness (e.g., W-pI.153.h). Nothing real can be threatened, and nothing unreal exists (T-in.2:2-3).

Thus, when we pray as students of A Course in Miracles, we are essentially opening our minds to an understanding of Love that is eternally present and accessible but hidden or obscured – often quite effectively – by ego. How do we know when prayer is working then? When it makes us happy regardless of what appears to be happening outside of us in the body in the world.

Prayer liberates us from the tyranny of self-imposed judgment. It restores to our mind the knowledge that we cannot be separate from God, which undoes the need for “our” judgment altogether. In turn, this release allows us to be transformed from the inside-out: as we “receive” love, we understand our brothers and sisters, and the world we make together, differently. We are less likely to collect grievances and viciously compete with one another. We are less affected by notions of scarcity and loss. We are here to serve on behalf of God. We don’t want anything else.

Truly, in prayer, we begin to experience the present moment – the holy instant – as sufficient unto itself. Losing our attachment to time and space – by remembering that they are effects, not causes – means that we become present to the Love that is available to us in each moment as each moment. We recognize – we know – that this Love is our true nature.

Therefore, the eleventh miracle principle teaches us that miracles are expressions of this otherwise unspeakable and unknowable – because it cannot be symbolized, cannot be contained – love. Miracles are not something we do – like turning water into wine or finding the perfect partner – but rather what happens internally when we open radically and without condition to the transformative power of God’s Love as it is revealed in and to us via the holy instant.

Thus, miracles do not generally manifest as spectacular events. Having this expectation of them means we are confused (see, e.g., the tenth miracle principle). A miracle is a moment of freedom born of the peace and quiet that are the effects of resting in Creation with our Creator. We laugh at what used to make us sad; we embrace what we used to fight; we accept what we used to resist. It looks like what it looks like; it doesn’t matter what it looks like.

Miracles are not intended to prove anything. They are not weapons to be used to make our lives different or persuade others to adopt our spiritual path and pratice. Rather, they are expressions of unconditional love, gifts that ask for nothing in return. They are indifferent to form; the form will naturally reflect love in the most helpful way possible. That is what form is for.

Through prayer and the expression of miracles, we realize that God’s Will and our will are, in truth and fact, a single will. There is only one love and only one relationship. This realization ends our identification with ego. We no longer find its voice attractive or interesting. Miracles are a natural result of this communication process. We become – like Saint Francis and Thérèse of Lisieux, like Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman – instruments of peace and love, creating as God creates, with and for all our brothers and sisters.

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