Edgar Cayce, a Life of Prayer

Dedicated to the life and work of Edgar Cayce, the “Sleeping Prophet”, 1877-1945

                     Here may we prove the pow’r of pray’r
                     to strengthen faith and sweeten care,
                     to teach our faint desires to rise,
                     and bring all heav’n before our eyes.

                                            —William Cowper, 1769                                           

I cannot invent new things, like the airships which sail on silver wings:

But today a wonderful thought in the dawn was given.  And the thought was this—

That a secret plan is hid in my hand, that my hand is big—big because of this plan.

That God who dwells in my hand knows this secret plan of the things he will do

For the world using my hand! 

—Toyohiko Kagawa 

     The life, work, and psychic power of Edgar Cayce is legendary.  His life “readings”, begun with the motivation to help those who asked for his assistance, expanded to encompass visions of historical figures and events in history, especially of Jesus and others in the Holy Land.  His ability to tap into this deeper reality is his enduring legacy, but what was the source of his power?  How did he come to develop this ability?  What led him to choose his life’s vocation? 

His prayer life was the foundation that fueled it, and is worthy of investigation.  Like any skill, it may be developed, and, if rightly done as Cayce did, imparts real power.  We would do well to incorporate it into our lives.  It is the purpose of this post. 

     The content of this post comes from Harmon H. Bro’s 1971 book The Approach of Edgar Cayce: Dreams in the Life of Prayer.  It should be noted that the book was dedicated to Morton Blumenthal who, in Bro’s words, “undertook the first systematic study of Edgar Cayce’s prayer states, from 1924 to 1933.”  This brief view will do the same. 

     Psychic sensitivity, past lives, dream states, reincarnation—all these seem totally out of character for someone of Cayce’s background.  His education was limited (although 9th grade, which he completed, was considered sufficient in his day).  His conservative religious background led him at first to question the morality of his psychic undertakings.  There were no indicators here of what was to unfold in his later life.  His accomplishments (and the controversy which often surrounded them) are well known, but were anchored by the consistent and systematic conduct of his prayer life. It began at the age of twelve, when he developed an intense love for the Bible and read it through in a year, a practice which he continued.

     Cayce’s psychic abilities may be called a “gift”, but this gift was nurtured by his religious devotion and his sincere desire to help others.  It was while reading the Bible that he prayed that he would be able to serve as had others in the Biblical narrative.  Harmon Bro writes, “Beginning the next day, and continuing until the end of his life, he found that he could enter a special state of consciousness by praying, where he could secure information helpful to others from what in time seemed an almost inexhaustible supply.”  This “information”, as he called it, enabled him to access a vast field of perception, among other things, medical diagnosis and prescription.  It should be noted that he did not claim to be acting by divine authority, nor that his power was special. Was it not Jesus, who in John 14:12 said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”?  In fact, he believed that he was doing nothing new and that the processes he employed were available to anyone.  During the last years of his life he made a special effort to coach others to draw from their prayer life as much as he drew from his.

     Devotees of Divine Personhood will be pleased that Cayce found he could develop in his prayer life an attunement to awaken memories of one with the highest ideals and on which he could model his life, Jesus himself.  The evidence for this exists in his extensive readings in which he revealed details of the life of Jesus and the community in which he lived and worked.  He encouraged the serious student to engage in the prayer life which he himself followed.  For me, the opportunity to draw closer to the Person of the Lord gives added encouragement for a serious engagement, using the methods which follow:  

     What was this prayer life?  To get the process started, a thirty day period was recommended.  This involved getting up at an early hour (for Cayce, the amazing time of 2 A.M), where no other duties could interfere and no disturbances could occur.  An hour was needed, the first half devoted to lifting everything up to God through prayer. This follows the traditional forms many Christians have been taught—confession, adoration, aspiration, dedication, petition, intercession—all these elements of prayer were included and encouraged, but with a new intensity and earnestness.  Reading of the Bible was included, but not as a substitute for prayer.  A short list of recommended passages includes Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 30, Psalms 91 and 103, and John 14-17.  Many other passages having special meaning can, of course, be selected. 

     As an aid to holding the mind still, Cayce offered several hundred little prayers, which he called “affirmations”.  These took the form of Psalm 51:10-13: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  The use of Biblical language was common.  Individuals were encouraged to put the thoughts of these affirmations in their own words.  They were encouraged to think them out carefully, phrase by phrase.  Humility was necessary to indicate the individual’s powerlessness to sin without God.  The affirmations should always carry a reference to service to others, rather than self-development.  Encouragement was given to carry these affirmations into the activities of life beyond the prayer period.   

     Prayerful attunement was followed by an equal half-hour of meditation, in order that God’s presence might enter in.  Harmon Bro writes, “Energies moved, however unperceived at first.  Nerve connections were refashioned, glands were cleansed, ideas and values strengthened, until in time the meditating person would find himself operating from entirely new bases within his being.”  Changes would be produced in the invisible field called the “real body”—the same as the “risen body”, the same for us as that which had been acted upon in the resurrection of Jesus.  What results is a shift of focus to “Thy Kingdom come”, all things working together for the fulfillment of God’s will, allowing God to enter into our “holy of holies”.  Our times, then, are truly in God’s hands.   

     True power and potential lies in learning and practicing the principles of Edgar Cayce’s prayer life.  What remains for us is a challenge and an opportunity to vastly deepen our contact with the Divine, and in so doing serve as a force to influence and reshape our own lives and those of others around us.  Whether or not we tap into that vast reservoir of vision that Edgar Cayce discovered, we can aspire, as he did, to a life of power and peace with prayer at its center.  There are few higher callings than this. 

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