How I Used Truth - Lesson 11 - Annotation 1
What is true prayer as brought out in this lesson?
1. As brought out in this lesson, true prayer is "a continual recognition and thanksgiving that all is good., and that all good is ours now as much as it ever can be" (How I Used Truth 104) . True prayer, then, can never be begging God for something we do not have. Rather it is thanking Him for bringing into manifestation that which is already ours in the ideal.
True prayer is grateful acknowledgment of the truth that God and man are one because they are of the same nature. Such acknowledgment has to take place in our consciousness or our soul, for the soul is the phase of our being where we perceive, think, feel, and will. Prayer that is based on the realization of God's indwelling presence is true prayer. It releases the divine ideas that are available for the soul's use in building a satisfying life.
If we are sincere in searching after Truth, our first step in true prayer will be to turn our attention away from external conditions. At those moments when we may be facing either a difficult problem or an important assignment, we will learn to seek joyously the presence of God within. In no other way can we find the courage to triumph over outer challenges. In true prayer, we feel the goodness of God working in us and in the entire universe. We feel the unity, the oneness, of all life; we see the beauty and holiness of life. True prayer enables us to realize our own relation to all creation, in the sure knowledge that all is essentially good because all is of God.
The text (page 104) contains a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on "Self-Reliance," in which we read these words concerning prayer: "It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul." True prayer must be recognized as far more than a time of asking God for things. It must be perceived as a "soliloquy" of the soul that leads to direct communication with the God-presence, the source of the ideas that produce the things. Webster's dictionary states that the word soliloquy comes from the root word soliloquium, meaning "to speak alone." It is defined as "the act of talking to oneself; a discourse made by one in solitude to oneself." This is certainly the first phase of true prayer, where the truth of God and man is perceived by the soul.
As the activity of prayer expands, however, it must reach far beyond our own contemplation (meditation) upon God and His good into the realm of the silence itself. Here we no longer dwell on our own observations about Truth but make ourselves receptive to hear the truth that God will "speak" to us. The meditation phase of true prayer may be called a soliloquy, but the silence is the time when God reveals Himself to us as all the good we may have contemplated in our period of meditation. What is the ultimate goal of true prayer? It is to receive inspiration from God, the Holy Spirit, revealing our part in bringing our inheritance of good ideas into visible form.
True prayer is something entirely different from "prayer as a means to effect a private end" as described in the above-mentioned quotation from Emerson. This latter type of so-called prayer is mental activity only. It stems from lack of understanding of the true nature of God and the true nature of man. It deals with dualism, separation, rather than with oneness, which is the essential relationship of God and man. Back of such begging prayer is usually the fear that one may not get the good that he feels is rightfully his or that he yearns to have. Instead of realizing the fulness of good as his birthright, he feels he lacks some form of good. He believes that someone or some situation can withhold the fulfillment of his desires. Such an attitude is based on the belief that God is in some places but not in others; that He gives to some persons and withholds from others. The one who prays to "effect a private end" does not believe in the omnipresence of God, the justice of God, or the love of God. One who frantically beseeches God for good in some form cannot make conscious connection with the Source of the good he desires so desperately. Thoughts and feelings that belie the omnipresence of God become a barrier between that person and his realization of God. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). But only the person himself can effect a change in his own thinking. One thing we need to keep in mind is this: Often the desperate desire for some good may be the very thing that will lead a person to seek God in the right way -- through true prayer.
Preceding Entry: Why is it necessary that we "realize" omnipresence?
Following Entry: What mental faculty (spiritual power) is of vital importance in the exercise of true prayer, and what is its function?