MANY STUDENTS of Truth, when turning from the old manner of praying and seeking a greater knowledge of true prayer, make a great problem of entering the silence. Indeed the silence does seem a problem to one who has never assumed control of his thoughts, who has never learned the art of relaxation, of concentration, of meditation, of being still and listening within. These are all steps that are taken to enter the silence where God dwells and where we hear the "still small voice," with its words of wisdom and love, where we contact the gifts that through eternity have been waiting for us to become still enough and receptive enough to receive them.
The human race, at least that part of it which prays to God, has so long spent all the time allotted to prayer in beseeching a faraway God for material desires. They have prayed to a God who is near-sighted and perhaps a little deaf, immovable on His throne in a heaven, dealing out evil as well as good, many times favoring the sinner in preference to the saint. They have talked at God, they have talked about God, in fact they have done all the talking, never giving the omniscient One a chance to speak back to them to assure them of His ability and wilLbgness to give them even more than they ask.
The Psalmist, beloved of God said: "I will hear what God Jehovah will speak" (Psalms 85:8). We have the proof of his listening for and to God in the wonderful messages of the Psalms. The singing of those God-given songs restored the singer's soul, and they have led many other hungry, homesick souls back to the green pastures and beside the still waters, to "dwell in the house of Jehovah ever" (Psalms 23:6). To the Psalmist, listening to Jehovah, God gave a long life full of rich living, a life physically rich, mentally rich. The experience of one human being can be the experience of all who are willing to pay the price. The price of such experiences as David's and Solomon's is to live the Christ life, one step in which is to learn to pray the prayer of faith that "availeth much in its working" (James 5:16).
This prayer we do not pray, because we "ask amiss" (James 4:3); we desire the gifts more than we desire the Giver; we ask for things more often than we ask for a knowledge of the law, and the strength and power to use it aright. We have only to review some of our past prayers and their results, or even examine some of the prayers we are saying today, to realize that this is true.
All prayers are answered by the Father. Whenever a prayer remains unanswered in the manifest realm, we can be sure that somewhere there is a closed door between us and the Giver; for every prayer of every soul represents some need that in its purified form, God is seeking to push forth into the manifest world. This loving One is ever seeking to manifest Himself through His children as health,
joy, beauty, wealth. We are the only means He has of coming into visible expression; and if each of us abandoned himself fully to His will, the world would be again a Garden of Eden where man could walk and talk with God in sweet communion. Each day we should seek to hasten this time by establishing in our heart the consciousness that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present, that He does hear and will give us the bread we crave instead of the stone that we manifest. Only those who become quiet and listen become still enough to hear the "still small voice" that gives this assurance. Such an assurance builds and strengthens faith, and it is only those who have faith in the ability and willingness of God to answer their prayers that are capable of receiving.
Each one of us builds his own capacity to receive. Today we are building our capacity to receive the answer to tomorrow's prayers. Our capacity to receive is built by faith, vision, and expectancy, and the greatness of our faith, the height of our expectancy, the steadfastness of our vision sets the measure. A pint measure holds only a pint, no more; a gallon measure holds only a gallon, no more. Some hold out a pint measure to the Giver and receive according to their faith, their vision, their expectancy. Others hold out a gallon measure and receive accordingly also.
There are many ways in which we limit our capacity to receive an answer to our prayers. Fear, doubt, worry always close the inlet through which the answer would flow into visibility, for they carry
us further from the Giver instead of into His presence. The answer desired when the prayer was offered may never be manifested, for as long as we are seeking things, our desires change with the fashions, and there is no perfect pattern for substance to follow. Or the answer may be contorted and unrecognizable when it does come into manifestation because of a lack of faith and a wavering vision. Or only a portion may come into being, or the desire may become manifest in an unfinished and incomplete state, because our expectation has been limited. Our answers may die at their birthing because there has not been incorporated in our consciousness the spiritual power and strength to bring them forth. Sometimes an intense desire voiced in prayer puts into action such a strong force that the desire prayed for comes into being before its time, is premature; we are not ready for it, and it entails great sorrow and suffering. Perhaps when the answer does come we find that we no longer desire it, have no use for it, and we may have to spend long, weary hours in prayer to erase the undesired thing from our life.
We do well to remember always before making our desires known to God that
"The blessing of Jehovah, it maketh rich;
And he addeth no sorrow therewith" (Prov. 10:22)
It is possible for our prayers to receive an answer in the twinkling of an eye, instantaneously, a glorified manifestation that is astounding, because we have asked with a faith that has given our desire into the
will of the Highest. We may rest assured that under all conditions, irrespective of our seeming needs and desires, lasting good will come to us when we learn to ask that only God's good become manifest for us and through us. We can pray, "Not my will, but thine, be done," (Luke 22:42) without the old-time fear when we remember the words of assurance from the lips of the Master: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). When a person comes to the place in growth where he puts the desire that God's will be done in his life before his personal desires, then the time is drawing near when all the good of the kingdom is at his command.
It is made very plain in the Holy Book, which is the textbook and guide of all who are seeking to find God, that prayer is answered. Isaiah, communing with Jehovah his God in prayer, hears these assuring words: "Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear" (Isa. 59:1). Again he hears: "Then shalt thou call, and Jehovah will answer; thou shalt cry, and he will say, Here I am" (Isa. 58:9).
Yet another time when he was listening for the "still small voice" these words came: "And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear" (Isa. 65:24). These promises are further confirmed by the One who best knew the Giver: "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (Matt. 6:8). To Jeremiah the inner voice conveyed the same assurance: "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and
show thee great things, and difficult, which thou knowest not" (Jer. 33:3).
The secret of effectual prayer is revealed over and over by the Master. He said: "God is spirit: and they that worship [pray to] him must worship [pray] in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). To pray truly one must enter into the God consciousness, must rise in mind to the plane of Spirit. If the prayers we offer are full of requests for things, we are instead in a consciousness of materiality, and we are addressing our prayers to a false god that has no power to answer them. Again Jesus tells us: "Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven," (Matt. 18:3) the spiritual realm, from which all answers come. Looking into the face of a little child trustfully cuddled in His arms, Jesus once said: "To such belongeth the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:14). The heart of a little child is pure, trusting, guileless, free from criticism, doubt, fear, jealousy, covetousness, hatred, and the materiality that fills the hearts of most of the race as it leaves childhood behind. Until we cleanse our heart of these errors and seek to return to our original purity, we need not expect the Christ to set up His kingdom in our heart and let its good become manifest in our life. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24). The purest mind that ever functioned in a human body received expression in these words: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8). When our vision is changed from material to spiritual and we become pure enough to see the good only, then we shall be
knowing as God knows and seeing as God sees, then will our desire be "Thou only" and as regards the heaven within, the kingdom of God, all things that we need and desire will be added. This is the fulfillment of the Master's promise "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). To this He added, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit," showing us that it is the will of the Father that His glory be expressed through us and for us on this earth plane in abundant measure. "Much fruit" means all those things which are needed to make our life happy and beautiful and useful, devoid of anxious care, of hard work, of scrimping and saving for a rainy day. Let us remember in our prayers that the will of the Highest is always "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over," (Luke 6:38) the "much fruit" of His promise.
Over and over we pray, "Thy kingdom come," (Matt. 6:10) and we, the only channel through which this kingdom can become manifest as a rose-blossom earth, accept the dearth and the famine, the weeds and the tares of a poverty-ridden world, and do not rise high enough in our prayers to wipe out this condition from our life! This condition will only change when we learn to ask and receive as did the Way-Shower. He had learned to pray the prayer of oneness with the Father's will. He could say, "Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. And I knew that thou hearest me always," (John 11:42) and have instant recognition
and instant response to His need. This One says to you and to me personally: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also: and greater works than these shall he do" (John 14:12).
As you earnestly, confidently, expectantly seek to become that righteous man whose prayer availeth much in its workings, there will be developed in you soul qualities that you have never before known – fearlessness, patience, compassion, self-control, discrimination, tolerance, understanding. As you keep the high watch, as you associate with the risen Christ, as you abide in the secret place of the Most High, Isaiah's prophesy shall be fulfilled for you: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning [wisdom], and thy healing shall spring forth speedily [health], and thy righteousness shall go before thee [success]; the glory of Jehovah shall be thy rearward [protection]" (Isa. 58:8).
O Thou Christ of the living God within me, reveal to me the Father, as Thou knowest the Father, that my faith may be strong, my vision high, my expectancy sure. Let all my desires and all my prayers conform to the will of the Highest, that my life may express only His glory, His beauty, His love.
Holy Spirit, Truth Divine
Holy Spirit, Truth divine,
Dawn upon this soul of mine;
Word of God and inward light,
Wake my spirit, clear my sight.
Holy Spirit, love divine,
Glow within this heart of mine;
Kindle every high desire,
Burn up self in Thy pure fire.
(mistakenly attributed to) M. E. Coles, Unity Song Selections #206
"Create in me a clean heart, God;
And renew a right spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10)
"Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." (Isa. 65:17)
"Clear thou me from hidden faults." (Psalms 19:12)
"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else." (Isa. 45:22)
"Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5)