The Scriptures say: "Concerning the work of my hand, command ye me." The ancients taught: "Letting God speak through you is the highest form of prayer." The Zend Avesta says: "Demand of me, thou upright one. Demand of me that thou mayest be the better, that thou mayest be the happier." The Masnavi teaches: "Having chosen thy director, be not weak of heart nor yet sluggish and lax as water and mud." The mystics also taught that "the gods love prayers fit to pull them down."
This prayer of "command" is the most advanced form of prayer, and it should be remembered that each prayer applies only as concerning "the works of my hand." That is, the prayer of command applies only in the realm of the will and purpose of God, and does not apply in the sense that man
can demand God concerning his own individual notion of what he should or should not have.
In our first study of prayer we found that the impulse to pray is inherent in all men, that it is an inner instinct or tendency that asserts itself when man is confronted with limitations or extremities of his own mind or environment. Let us study into this matter a little further; we may perhaps get an inkling of this very fundamental origin of prayer and see how it may often develop swiftly to the most advanced form of prayer. Take for instance, in the first experience with any sort of objectionable or distressing circumstance. The first tendency of man may be to seek help in the situation. But let the same situation continue and become unbearable. At this point the man does not ask help but a certain innate authority arises within him, he takes complete command of the situation, and in this sense of awakened authority he is delivered out of his difficulty. If this condition does not prevail, he often goes down under the experience.
"There is a time when patience ceases to be a virtue." There come periods in every individual's experience when he has endured the outrages of human ignorance as long as he can and he arises in righteous wrath. With relentless and uncompromising authority he dispels the condition or the situation and enters into his own freedom and dominion. This is what the ancient mystics called the "rise of the hidden man of the heart." The
point is, that if it can be aroused under any circumstance, that is evidence of its existence; and if it is there, it can be cultivated until this is the perpetual estate of man. This aroused authority of man's inner nature, when he refuses to be any longer bound to human frailty and limitation and arises in his own innate authority over them, is distinctly in harmony with "the works of my hand." That is, this state of man is distinctly in harmony with the will and purpose of God. It is the positive assertion of his primitive impulse to prayer when the very power of God to whom he has prayed, seizes upon him. Much of human difficulty is due to the fact that man has become inactive and submissive to conditions and circumstances which are born of human ignorance. There comes a time when he must arouse himself to positive action if he would shake off these shackles of human bondage. Paul says in I Corinthians 16:13, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be ye strong."
The writer once knew a man who, from various external influences, became caught in a very distressing condition. He was thrown among strange people in a strange environment. In the field of action to which he was accustomed, there seemed to be no work, and his finances became completely exhausted. He had a definite responsibility of caring for a wife and child, and his condition therefore presented difficulties of rather formidable proportions.
He worked and struggled, prayed, and tried in every sort of manner to free himself from this condition but to no avail. Instead of the condition's becoming better, it steadily grew worse, as is not uncommon under such circumstances. It is useless to enumerate all the difficulties which he encountered, but they were ample to blunt the courage and destroy the faith of even the strong and courageous.
This seemingly insurmountable condition prevailed for a period of three years, and there seemed absolutely no escape from it. Nor was there seemingly any solution to the various problems involved. This man said he repeatedly contemplated suicide, but in some way he had been so dulled by these distressing conditions that he either lacked the courage or the will to go through with any such plans. At any rate, the whole thing became unbearable and he determined to end it all in one way or another. There could be no further compromise. It was a fight to the finish. He stood on the last grounds of human strength and endurance and they were crumbled to dust. Something had to happen.
Late that night he walked out alone into the moonlight. He walked swiftly, he knew not where, for he had no thought of time or place. He was fired with but one idea, and that was, that "something had to happen, something must move," and this very thought had impelled him to proceed at a
rapid pace. All of a sudden he discovered that he was utterly alone. He had passed beyond the last house at the edge of town. There were no signs of living beings within sight. There he stood alone and looked out over the face of the earth and up at the moonlit sky. Alone in all infinity, — not one thing or one person he could turn to. He was utterly alone. At that moment something within him arose and he sent forth a demand into that great and seemingly empty space: "Oh, God, whoever you are, whatever you are; you who created the worlds and they that dwell therein: of you in this moment I demand that right which is mine to be delivered out of this entire condition in whatever way is in strict accordance with the will and purpose of the Universe. I demand that I either be destroyed utterly from the face of the earth, or that I be released from this situation. Whether it is destruction or liberation I care not, so long as the highest purpose of the Universe be fulfilled; but I do demand that will and purpose of the Universe be fulfilled in me NOW." He literally dug his heels into the ground, clenched his fists, and gritted his teeth, as this demand went forth from his heart into infinite space to be picked up, heard, and dealt with by whatever guiding intelligence there might be to hear and respond to the cries of men. How long this challenging demand went forth from his very soul and out into space he did not recall, but the very next morning he received a telegram from
people whom he had never met, which offered him his release. In twenty-four hours from the time of his demand, he was on his way to the new position, to a new life, and to new opportunities.
This is an example of a legitimate use of the prayer of command, or the prayer of demand; and it is within the right of every individual to be courageous in his demand that the purpose of the Universe be fulfilled in every phase of his experience. But one should be fully ready to take the consequences and submit to whatever whirling change may sweep in upon him when such demands are sent forth into infinite space; for it is infinitely responsive and moves swiftly and with immeasurable power, once it is so invoked. For the safety of the individual, such demands should be made with the added requirement, "in accordance with thy will." Nor does this phase of prayer apply to any specific state of mind, body, or affairs. Think not that one may with impunity demand the activity of God to fulfill the false desires and unillumined purposes of the human mind. They will all be satisfied, that is true, but not in ways that we have imagined, nor in ways which we might direct.
The legitimate procedure in the use of this prayer of command is to be found in the manner in which it was applied by Jesus Christ in performing his miracles. For instance, in the case of the leper, he did not ask for God's healing power,
but in positive authority he commanded: "Be thou clean." In the case of the withered hands, his commanding authority was expressed: "Stretch forth thy hand." In the case of the man ill and unable to walk, he commanded: "Rise and walk." In this instance there is a most interesting fact, revealing an overplus of action in the Divine Principle even beyond the demands made by Jesus Christ himself; this reveals the self-operative phase of Divine Principle which is moving in our behalf always, beyond anything we ask, think, or feel. Though Christ himself commanded the lame to "rise and walk" he "leapt and ran." Jesus Christ did not ask God to forgive sinners but faced them in positive authority and commanded "thy sins be forgiven." In case of death, Jesus Christ still resorted to this prayer of command, and in that sense of awakened Divine authority in which all power in Heaven and Earth was given him, he commanded: "Come forth," and even the dead obeyed.
But this authority of command was not something which originated with Jesus himself, for his declaration of his own capacity was that "I of myself can do nothing." The secret of the origin of his power was revealed in that practice attributed to him when "He lifted his eyes unto Heaven," and again in his own words when he said, "What I see the Father doing, that I do," and again, "The words you are hearing are not mine, but the Father within me." The secret of his power was literally letting
God speak through him. This same degree of power is awaiting any individual who will, out of the hidden depths of his own inner nature, arise above the false action and reaction of human ignorance, catch the mighty trend of him who created the Heavens and the Earth, and speak in conscious harmony with the will of Almighty God.
All power and authority come from speaking in harmony with that which is above one's nature. Weakness and inability come through obedience to that which is less than one's nature. Therefore the secret of failure and the secret of genius is learning this law of obedience and choosing the objects to which one surrenders his obedience. "To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are."
One may rise to commanding authority in mathematics if he chooses to surrender himself and sublimate his character to the will and purpose of the mathematical principle. In order to do this he must give his mind in attentive contemplation of the principle itself. He must become fascinated with the processes of the principle, and he must train his character "line upon line and precept upon precept" until he speaks only that which is true of the principle, and carries out in his conduct only that mode of action which is true of the principle itself. When he speaks and acts in harmony with the principle of mathematics, he speaks with the authority of that principle; and his utterances and
his conduct carry commanding authority. Only by thus becoming its servant does he become its master.
There is a point at which the weakest and meekest of men might speak with the authority of a king. Should the king choose this meek individual as his messenger and impart to him his thought and intent, together with his signed commission; when this messenger conveys the idea in the king's mind, and the intent of his heart, would not the messenger speak as the king and with all the authority of the king? Obedience to authority above one's nature is the sure secret of arousing commanding authority within the nature of the individual. The prayer of command is therefore the confident declaration of discovered facts, when, as Longfellow put it:
"We no longer speak our own imperfect
thoughts and vain opinions
But God alone speaks in us,
And we wait in singleness of heart that
we may do his will
And in the Silence of our spirit that we
may do his will,
And do that only."
The prayer of command is not a dominant, self-assertive attitude, for such an attitude as a rule is indicative of an inherent sense of weakness. Dr. Frank Crane in one of his masterful three-minute
essays has said, "Loud talk is a sign one's reasoning is feeble"; and again, "When one shrieks, it means that he knows or suspects that what he says does not amount to much and it irritates him." The Scriptures say, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."
It is impossible to speak with authority without an aroused feeling, and the strongest possible feelings come from confident assurance and an inner conviction. When one is sure of himself, his command is that of quietness; and there is no authority so great as the authority of calmness based on an inward sense of certainty. When one is sure of his position, he proceeds with quiet confidence.
Many people fail to make definite progress along spiritual lines because they have drifted into the habit of merely accepting Truth and not living it. Such individuals will find the most positive declarations of Truth an effective means of arousing themselves out of this state of lethargy into which they have descended. But it would always be well for such an individual to be sure that his declarations are in harmony with the will and purpose of God. Such declarations will be found in the Lord's Prayer. While these statements were, as we outlined in a previous lesson, simple, straightforward requests, one will also find that at a certain point in his progress they are also commands. The chief difference between a request and a command is simply the degree of understanding and the attitude
of mind involved in the statement. Can you not see that the request, "Give me a pencil?" immediately becomes a command when the attitude and inflection of the voice is changed? So the requests in the Lord's Prayer become a series of positive commands.
"Thy Kingdom come!"
"Thy will be done!"
"Give us this day our daily bread!"
"Forgive us our debts!"
"Leave us not in temptation!"
"Deliver us from evil!"
"Thine is the Kingdom!"
"Thine is the power!"
"Thine is the glory!"
The positive declaration of such facts as these is the sure means of breaking up any negative condition in the life of the individual and lifting him into that free state of being which is rightly his as a child of the Infinite.
In this awakened state of man's divine authority, he no longer asks. He knows that all things are already his through his eternal unity with the Father.
He no longer has to be still, for he is already a part of the stillness of Being itself.
He no longer merely believes, for he is conscious in that Mind of God which knows.
He does not seek to live in the Father, for he is
already conscious that "I and the Father are one."
He does not seek the Kingdom, for he is already a dweller in the finished Kingdom itself.
He does not ask for supply nor seek its manifestation; for God is his supply, and being one with God, he is one with all supply.
To him there is no debt, for in the finished fact of God he knows that "All mine is thine and all thine is mine."
And what temptation could there be to one who thus lives in conscious unity with all there is?
The glory which he had with God in the beginning, before the world was, is restored to him; he is reinstated in the Father's house, receiving his inheritance inexhaustible and incorruptible.
He walks forth as the Son of God, because he has received the Spirit of God, and this spirit of God awakened in him is his sure rod of authority.