Lesson 7 — Prayer
Text Reference: Chapter 9
- DYNAMICS FOR LIVING (Fillmore), p. 89
- POWER THROUGH CONSTRUCTIVE THINKING (Emmet Fox), p. 13
- SERMON ON THE MOUNT (Emmet Fox), p. 92
Significant Concepts To Be Covered
- It is suggested that you refer back to Lesson 2 (Chapter 4) as a background for this lesson on prayer. Jesus taught a science of prayer that did not deal at all with a capricious God who had to be supplicated and who may or may not want to answer.
- The quotation from "Honest to God" by Bishop Robinson whould provide some interesting material for discussion — indicating the problems people have in approaching the subject of prayer.
- "The Father who seeth in secret..." Get this concept of the "secret" activity of all things. It is not mysterious or magical, but deals only with the secret region of causation that underlies all things.
- There are many simple concepts, each of which is important, that are outlined on pages 108-115. They are all building toward the idea that prayer is simply opening our lives to receive what God has always been trying to bestow. Follow this sequence so that the individual is challenged to a new insight into prayer.
- One point that needs some special attention is the word "ask." After considering the ideas outlined in the chapter, you might challenge the student with the statement, "It would be better to eliminate the word "ask" from your prayer vocabulary. It could well be a 'hang-up' that will keep you from the new prayer consciousness."
- Emphasize that the Lord's Prayer was not intended to be a prayer to end all prayers — but rather a series of dynamic Truths to illustrate the consciousness in which to pray.
- You will find enough material in this lesson for a whole series of lessons, but it is suggested that you attempt to cover it all as a survey — from which the student will be challenged to give further study and contemplation.
- Give an assignment in the form of a daily use of the "new version" of the Lord's Prayer as outlined at the end of the chapter.
Added Commentary Relevant to Chapter 9:
The missing link in traditional religion has been inner prayer. Man has built great shrines or temples, lavish and ornate ceremonies of prayer and worship. But his worship has only fulfilled his longing for pageantry, and his prayer has satisfied a sense of duty to pray. But his prayer has seemed lifeless and ineffective in healing life’s problems.
Man lives so much of his life at the circumference of his being. He has a need which is sometimes desperate, to get apart, to experience a time of renewal and refreshment. The need is so urgent that we often take the route of diversion. For many religion is an escape rather than a technique for fulfillment. If we practice a religion of performance at the circumference, then God is little more than a word, and prayer little more than a verbal performance. And religion becomes simply a temporary diversion.
As long as religion is an intellectual teaching dealing with an outside power and a contact with God in some outside place and emotional experience, it can never become a vital power for health or guidance. Religion is not a program that deals with another world and a set of observances that have little relevance to this one. It is intended to help man to know his inner powers and to learn to use them. Prayer must be an effort to harness the depth potential in man in meeting life’s experiences at the circumference.
Prayer is not simply a formal act that requires a religious place or special sacrament. How free is man when he realizes this — that at any time he can got still and find an inner place of stillness. Charles Fillmore says: “There is a place within us where there is a church service going on all the time... We need but enter in and listen.” In this place there is no need for pleading and importuning, God is always and everywhere functioning in the same way, working His good work of perfection in all things. In this inner meeting place with God we simply place ourselves in contact with His super power so that His perfection may beccme manifest in us and in our affairs.
We must try to get away from belief in praver as being something magical or mystical — a last-ditch effort to solve problems. Prayer does not deal in miracles, but with the fulfillment of spiritual or natural law. Results of prayer may be humanly astounding, but they merely demonstrate that which is divinely natural.
Man must begin to realize that Spirituality is not something to be acquired by outer search or worship, but something to be released by quiet meditation and soul reflection.
Often prayer is couched in words that indicate an effort on man’s part to influence God. We do not have to tell electricity to be energy. Must we tell gravity to hold things in their places? We simply use the energy and change our position in relation to it. Neither can we tell God anything. Whittier said: “The Lord is God and needeth not the poor devise of man.” Where does God come in then? asks someone. God does not come in. God never went out. Every word we speak is God, everything we see is God: the buttercup, the sunset, the morning dew nestling in the petal of the rose — that is God — and love and laughter are God. God is in the thing we seek and in the inner urge by which we seek it. God is in the music that is played, and in the mind of him who composed it, the skill of him who plays it, and the appreciation of him who listens to it.
Prayer is not an attempt to find God — for God is not lost. It is an effort to find ourselves consciously in a spiritual unity with God that can never really be severed — for we can have no existence outside of God.