I recently came across a thirty-year-old newspaper clipping about angels (Advice from the Angels by Tanya Barrientos, Knight-Ridder News). It caught my attention, especially its encouragement for us, mere mortals, to avail ourselves to angles in our midst, visible and invisible, and to approach life—all of life—with grace. The article referenced a book, Ask Your Angels, that encourages readers to be open to “grace,” an acronym for encountering angels and other heavenly beings: ground, release, align, commune, and enjoy. I think this notion of grace can be used to our benefit, not just in hopes of encountering celestial entities but, when entering prayer or any significant activity through which we want to become better or touch phenomena beyond our normal grasp. This blog post will elaborate on the author’s message.
Grounding. Mystics and spiritual mentors remind us that before entering prayer or a spiritual encounter, we ought to ground ourselves. The most common prayer-grounding is to take a few moments of silence and offer gratitude for life or a particular blessing. As humans, we descend from Adam, who was literally grounded—formed from dirt. “Human” comes from the Latin word humus meaning of the earth. As an earth-being, a good way to ground ourselves is to be thankful that we are part of God’s amazing creation, like the soil from which Adam came. The article suggests that we might even envision our legs growing roots that connect us to the earth and explore the energy that unites us with creation and sense our breath and heartbeat which bond us to God who breathed life into our primal ancestor.
Releasing. Though we are earthy and material, prayer experiences beckon us from the physical to the spiritual, from a state of mind that we control (somewhat) to a frequency that is sacredly beyond our control. We do well, then, to relinquish ourselves from functioning as physical beings who can tap into the spiritual realm to being our truer selves: spiritual beings in physical form. In releasing or surrendering our soul to the divine, we ascend to a higher sense of engagement. Like Blessed Mother Mary who, in the presence of God’s angel, assented to the divine will, so ought we make a similar surrender and release ourselves to higher powers.
Aligning. In this third step, we want to align ourselves with God. Jesus said to His followers: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me. I am in you, and you are in me. I am the vine and you the branches…” Rooted in Christ, we become a channel through which He flows. As Saint Paul said, “It is no longer I who live but Christ that lives within me.” If only for a few moments of prayer, we can elevate to a level in which we are synced in with God and aligned to Christ, we will have greater opportunities to get in sync with others and align with our purpose and mission, which is intimately tied to the mission of our Lord.
Communing. In this step we engage with the divine. As we are sometimes reminded that we have two ears and one mouth so that we will listen twice as much as we talk, so it is in prayer that we communicate with God by inclining the ear of our heart to His voice. In this state we can experience communion, the common union of humanity and divinity (or more personally, union of myself and God); and here we have sacred communication, the common action in which God acts in us, through us, and with us. As we converse with the Lord, we might also ask questions of our guardian angel or other good spirits. In this exchange we can more graciously open ourselves to Christ living and working within us.
Embracing/Enjoying. In this divine setting, which we touch so rarely, we embrace our life in Christ and our true nature as a child of God. As it enfolds us, we are simply to enjoy the contact. Our prayer might dart around various issues important to us at the moment: our vocation, our family, our marriage, key relationships, challenges, travels, insights, health, our purpose, our hopes, etc. Yet, in this final stage of grace-filled prayer, we enjoy being part of something far greater than ourselves and far greater than we can fathom. The loving embrace that we feel here surfaces because of communion with angels, spirits, humanity, divinity, mortality, eternity… It is a grace beyond us and beyond words yet a grace that we can return to often through prayer.