5. In His Name
by Glenn Clark
The Soul's Sincere Desire
After a golfer has taken his stance, and has addressed the ball, when he has completely rid himself of the inhibitions of nervousness, impatience, and fear, when his wrists are relaxed and supple, ready to respond to his slightest command, then he is ready at last to give the stroke.
If you have seen a great golfer play you have seen one of the most wonderful things in the world, which, if it could be wholly analyzed and accounted for, would explain and elucidate the whole mystery of power and skill. After he has finished his preliminary relaxation of arms and hands, the great golfer rests in a quietness and confidence which he himself does not wholly understand, feeling only that there are powers far beyond him, which are ready and waiting to play the game for him. For he knows that he could never have learned how to play the game as well as he has done in three months, or three years, or even thirty years. He knows down in the deeper cells of his being that the marvelous coordination of mind and muscle that are his could not have been attained in one or even two or three lifetimes. He knows that the mighty rhythms and coordinations of eye and muscle and brain have been worked out for him through the history of the race. He, with his little body hardly out of swaddling clothes, with his little growth of muscle and bone and tissue that has seen the light of day for only a few revolutions of the earth, merely brings into use, with what direction and control he is capable of, the physical and psychic forces that are as old as Time. He knows that, when he sends the ball down the course with one of those perfect and majestic drives, he, as the small self, does not strike that ball, but all his ancestors rise and gird themselves and strike it for him.
In the same way the man who prays with power knows that he does not do the praying; he merely directs, in a very small and sometimes awkward way, forces that are greater than himself. Just as the great golfer is indebted to his physical heritage, the man who prays is indebted to the vast spiritual heritage of the race. The golf-player, made in the image and likeness of his physical father, plays with the instincts and physical prowess which his physical father has handed down to him. The man who prays, made in the image and the likeness of his spiritual Father, prays with the power, radiance, and glory given him from the spiritual powers of his Father, drawn from all the spiritual forces of the infinite universe.
This is the way Jesus prayed, and it is the reason all His prayers were answered. “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself,” Jesus said, “but the Father that dwelleth in me.” He reiterated to his followers that they must practise prayer in the same way. Seven different times He gave His disciples a promise the purport of which was, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” Jesus never spoke what was not true, and when He took the pains to repeat this seven times he surely meant that His word be heeded. I do not know of any other statement of Jesus which has been so misinterpreted or disregarded by most of his followers for the past two thousand years. And this in spite of the fact that He uttered it in such impressive fashion, followed it with examples and parables, and reiterated it so many times.
Now what does it mean to pray in Christ’s name? Does it mean to pray in our own name, adding at the end a lame apologetic postscript that the prayer was offered in Christ’s name? This smacks too much of cleaning the outside of the platter while within all is uncleanliness. It reminds me of my little girl, who, with a drawing that looked like a washtub, asked her mother to write upon it, “This is a kitty.”
Jesus does not ask for labels—He asks for the real thing. He does not ask for prayers with clean exteriors only—they must be clean within as well. He does not ask that we pray in our own name and then add a hypocritical postscript: “In Christ’s name I ask this.”
Is it any wonder that our prayers have been so ineffective? All these years we have not been praying as Jesus told us to pray, in genuine communion with God, but have been trying to palm off on Him makeshifts, substitutes, and flimsy imitations.
“The ‘name’ in primitive thought stands for the person bearing that name; it is, in a sense, the person himself,” writes Dr. H. Clay Trumbull. When a woman marries a man she takes his name—unless, as in some parts of the world, he takes hers—and the wife thereby becomes his possession, his representative. When she speaks in the assembly her voice becomes his voice. Jesus himself said, “And they twain shall be one flesh.” To pray in Christ’s name we should become one with Him—not in the flesh, but in the spirit.
A very beautiful custom in some parts of the South Sea Islands is that when two men become deeply attached to each other they exchange names, and each is known by the name of the other for the rest of his life. Such an exchange of names,— one speaking in another’s name,—whether in marriage or in friendship, implies a sacred tie of absolute unity, absolute love. To speak in Christ’s name then means that we love Him; we represent Him and express Him; we abide in Him and He abides in us.
“If we would ask anything in the name of Jesus,” continues Dr. Trumbull, “we must first be sure that we are ourselves in that name, our life being hid in His life, our name in His name. ... Coming thus to the Father, we come in the name, in the spirit, and in the likeness of His Son; and the Father will hear us and will answer us, because we are representatives of His Son, enwrapped by and dwelling within His very self as the supreme representative of the Father.”
We might say that Jesus by a mere change of a preposition has revolutionized the entire conception of prayer. In the Old Testament days prayer consisted largely of offering sacrifices on an altar—an exhibition before God. In the New Testament it became a petition addressed to God. Jesus went one step further by using prayer as a communion with God. This change is very important. A writer says, “True prayer is, by our Lord’s own witness, revealed to be not praying for God, or even to God, but with Him. ... Strictly to state the truth, it is the Holy Ghost praying through and with us; for whilst ‘we know not what we should pray for as we ought ... the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us.’
True prayer, then, is the Holy Ghost, Emmanuel, God in us, speaking through us to God the Father, Who abides in us and in Whom we abide. We are but the chosen vessel by means of which the living water is being carried from the spring to the sea. As breathing is merely a taking in and giving out of air, so prayer is merely a taking in and giving forth of God.
Is it any wonder that this kind of prayer is always heard, is always understood—and is always answered? For if God could hear and answer every prayer asked by God the Son, speaking through Christ in Galilee, cannot He hear and answer every prayer asked by God the Holy Ghost, speaking through Man to-day?
As the great golfer stands poised, with club above his head, ready for his mighty stroke, he knows he deserves no credit for the wonderful coordination of mind and muscle that is his. He knows that the mighty rhythms and unities and powers that are in him have been worked out for him by his earthly fathers from the beginning of the race. In a similar way the one who prays in Jesus’ name knows that he deserves no credit and is not responsible for the mighty coordinations of mind and spirit that are his. He knows that the mighty rhythms and unities and powers in his heart and soul have been worked out by his spiritual Father from the beginning of the ages. He knows that all he needs to do is to release himself from the things that bind and relax himself completely to these mighty powers, and they will perform many mighty works through him.
The novice in golf who cannot give himself to the perfect stroke with its perfect “follow through,” but who relies instead upon the “chop stroke” that begins and ends with self, can never hope to break a record. So the man who neglects the great unities and harmonies within him and prays a prayer that begins and ends with self must never expect to receive an answer to his prayer. For just as the golf player must give himself wholly and unqualifiedly to the instincts of the race, the man who truly prays must give himself wholly and unqualifiedly to the inspirations of Heaven.
Now we come to the most essential of all the laws of prayer: there must be Love in it. Paul said: —
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. ...
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
And he might have added: And though there be prayers, they shall fail; but if love be in the prayer it shall not fail.
Jesus wrought not a single miracle where He did not first love, and where the love was not returned unto Him. The greater the miracle the greater the love. He cared for the people who waited in the wilderness to hear Him. “I have compassion on the multitude,” He said, “because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” Before He healed the widow’s son at Nain He saw her and “had compassion on her.” Before He raised Lazarus from the dead He wept, and those standing by said, “Behold how he loved him!”
Nothing reveals better how perfectly Jesus abided by this principle that love be made the centre and core of prayer than His refusal to help the Syro-phoenician woman who, having “heard of him, besought Him to cast out the devil from her daughter. Note the coldness of those words: having “heard of him.” She was evidently coming to Him as to a necromancer, a foreign wonder-worker, a mysterious Jew. “But he answered her not a word.” This manner of Jesus was similar to His manner with Pilate and the Jewish accusers; where there is no love Jesus is silent. When His disciples begged Him to send her away He answered, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then to her, when she besought Him, He said that it was not meet to take the bread of the children—who love—and cast it to the dogs—those who do not love. Then in one of the most beautiful expressions of humble devotion and trust ever recorded she cried: “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
The entire philosophy of Jesus’ emphasis upon love as the key to healing men physically, mentally, and spiritually is revealed in a conversation that took place in the house of a Pharisee.
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house and sat down to meat.
And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment.
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty.
And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said to him. Thou hast rightly judged.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered int-o thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
Had Jesus turned the power of His miracles of compassion and love into a means of glory for His own fame, He would have become a wizard, a worker in black magic, a scourge instead of a Christ. The temptations to which Satan submitted Him were temptations to use the power of prayer divorced from love, in hypnotism, personal magnetism, and clairvoyance, for selfish ends, for personal glory. That such a temptation is a real one is evidenced by the histories of religious leaders who have lost their way, let love drop from their prayers, and let the self in. Such men make prayer a mere system, a mechanical routine, a formula. Whenever this happens, the power that before was kept alive by love is atrophied, and miracles cease to happen. Then prayers are no longer answered.
This actually did happen in the early Christian Church after it had become a State religion, a formal instrument of worldly elements. For three hundred years after Christ, according even to such an agnostic historian as Gibbon, the early Christians continued to work miracles, many of which were almost as great as those of Jesus Himself.
When congregations come together to pray, not merely to listen to a sermon or to go through a ritual, when love lives in the prayers and self is forgotten, then we may expect miracles again: for the blind to see, the lame to walk, and those possessed of fear and terror to be set free from demons.
The prayer without love is a cursed prayer, in league with the devil. Jesus repudiated such prayer at the beginning of His ministry, and again near its close He gave one final and blasting repudiation in the manner of the parable of the fig tree, which few are able to understand. The fig tree in Palestine does not bear leaves until after it has borne fruit. One day Jesus came upon a tree that was abundantly covered with leaves without having first borne its fruit. Jesus did what was for Him a strange thing; He, the soul of forgiveness and tenderness, cursed the fig tree. When He and His disciples passed it again they found the leaves withered.
The parable of the fig tree, being interpreted, is this:—
The fruit represents the love in our hearts. The leaves are the miracles or the active works. As leaves follow the fruit, so the works follow love. The works are permanent only in so far as love preceded them; otherwise they are cursed and will wither away.
So a prayer which is offered without love may sometimes bear leaves—or results—of a kind; but if the fruit of love has not first been there it is already cursed. For just as the murder-thought, symbolized by Cain, carried the curse of God on it, so the prayer without love bears the curse of Christ. Even before such a prayer is uttered it is already dead and had much better never have been born.
Another characteristic of the successful golf-player is that he puts joy into his game. Dr. Richard Clarke Cabot tells us, in What Men Live By, that there are three kinds of labor. One is toil that is tedious and tiresome without any hope of reward; this is drudgery. Another is activity that is unpleasant and tedious but carries with it the hope of reward; this is work. Then there is the kind of activity that is so enjoyable that one is eager to do it regardless of the reward or compensations; this is play. Every one of us can choose which of the three we will make of our own life-work. If we make it drudgery, we are slaves; if we make it work, we are men; if we make it play, we are gods. All great geniuses have made their work play. “I never worked a day in my life,” said Edison; “it was all play.”
Prayer as we too frequently use it is not a walking in green pastures and beside still waters; we do not throw ourselves into it with joy. We have rather squeezed it out as a lame duty, largely disliked because lamentably misunderstood, while the attitude of prayer is usually that of fear and dread, as we rarely turn to it save in direst need or terrifying disaster.
Compare this attitude of prayer with the manner in which we play. Watch the business man put away his troubles, sling his golf bag over his shoulder, and with a thrill of joyous abandon step out with a springy tread over the open spaces of the links. Contrast this with the way the same man would pray. Yet what his time in the joyous open spaces is to his physical well-being, prayer is to his spiritual health; there should be about it just as much joy.
The more joy one can put into one’s prayer —joy that is built on unselfish, God-conscious thought and not an ephemeral thing of self—the more quickly will come the answer or manifestation of the prayer. For joy binds man to God, and gives him at-one-ment. It is by joy, born of the certainty of the greatest realities, that man is forever united to all that is good, and forever regenerated, apart from all that is bad. So often is the immediate sense of joy the accompaniment of the answer to prayer, that it is difficult to tell whether that sense is the cause or the sign of the fulfillment. One might better say that it is both, and yet neither: that joy synchronizes with the answer, that it is, so to speak, the brother and partner of the fulfillment, the inner realization that we are in the presence of God.
A great basket-ball player told me once that just as the ball left his hand he could tell by the thrill of joy that came to him whether or not the ball would go through the basket. In the same way many ballplayers know when their bat meets the ball whether it will be a safe hit or not. Golf-players, too, by the joyous thrill which goes through them at the moment of the club’s contact with the ball, know when they have made a perfect stroke. In every case the feeling of joy begins before the ball is struck and extends for some time after. May it not be that this feeling of joy takes its rise from an inner realization, a subconscious sensation of perfect mind- and muscle-coordination, which makes the perfect stroke the inevitable sequel? In the same way, when a blaze of joy comes to the one who prays it is a sign that the spiritual coordination has been accomplished—of unity with God in the first place, and unity with man, through love, in the second place—that makes the answer to prayer inevitable.
It is after one has attained this spiritual joy a few times in prayer, and has experienced the answer that accompanies it, that he truly knows that God does answer prayer. Thenceforth he turns to prayer with that exhilarating joy with which the golf-player turns to his game, with which Edison turns to his inventions, and with which Shakespeare turned to his playwriting. He becomes, like Paul, a genius in prayer.
As the highest peaks catch the first glow of the on-coming dawn, so a man in exalted prayer, with eyes on God, praying on the mountain top with joy in his heart, will be the first to catch the glow of the on-coming answer to the needs of man.
When you bow in prayer, then, you should not be too deadly in your solemnity; you should rather make it a joyous and exalted outpouring of the heart and mind to God. Open all the doors of the heart wide to the in-coming flood of joy; take all that you can, knowing that in so doing you are putting yourself in harmony with Jesus’ own purpose in coming to man: that we might have joy, and that our joy may be full.
Know this: that God is Love and He is also Joy. The nearest thing to love we find in this world is joy. To get all you can of God in your heart, get all you can of joy and radiate it —joyously.
The reader may have noticed that the first three rules in this discussion of prayer, given in the form of “don’ts,” are merely the opposites of the next three, which are the same rules restated in their positive form as “do’s.” To summarize briefly what has gone before, we may say that to pray one must simply let out Self and let in God; let out Anger and let in Love; let out Fear and let in Joy. Moreover, the reader may also have noticed that these rules, stated positively, are nothing more or less than the three jewels of Paul’s rosary, Faith, Hope, and Love, restrung together in a slightly different sequence and under a slightly different terminology.
Now we come to the last part of the golfer’s stroke, the “follow through.” How hard it is to impress upon the beginner the value of the seemingly useless part of the golf-club swing: the letting it swing back and up across the shoulder, parallel to where it began! How hard it is to impress upon him the fact that the very power, elasticity, and impact of the stroke depend partly upon what follows after the ball has been struck!
It is the same with prayer. After a man has prayed and the answer has come, the tendency is to lean back with satisfaction, thinking that the task is completed. If this were indeed a task it might be so; but true prayer is never a task; it is a rich and blessed sharing with God. True prayer begins with God and therefore must be returned to God. This constitutes the “follow through” in prayer.
And how can prayer be returned to God? Through the gratitude that glorifies God. This gratitude is what puts the seal of permanence upon any act of prayer.
If gratitude is such an important part of prayer, then what are the avenues for expressing it? The ways and means of expressing our gratitude to God are almost as innumerable as the ways and means of manifesting love. The most direct and obvious way is to express it to God direct. Or it may be expressed to the person who was the channel for conveying God’s blessing to us. Or we may return gratitude to God by passing on similar help to another. Jesus said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Let us hope that some of the lepers who failed to return thanks to Christ found means of doing friendly human service to others who were in need.
We are told in Harold Begbie’s More Twice-Born Men that when a man has been saved from sin the surest way to make his salvation permanent is for him to go straightway and save another man. And I might say that whenever we get an answer to prayer the best way to make it permanent and to ensure future answers is to go and express our thanks to God by helping others to find the same blessing that we have found.
“ Gratitude, I find, is the strangest and most cleansing and strengthening feeling there is,” so writes a friend. Indeed, nothing was more truly said. For gratitude cleanses out the feelings of Self, of Anger and of Fear; it strengthens the Faith, Love, and Joy that are in one. Gratitude sums up, includes, and expresses every attribute essential for prayer. Perfect gratitude is perfect prayer. And to keep one’s self in a condition of eternal gratitude is to keep one’s self in a condition of eternal prayer. Then one knows what it means to “pray without ceasing.” “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”
“Blessed be God the Father. Unto Him be the glory through all generations, for ever and ever.”
When one has learned all the various parts of the perfect golf-stroke, the final task is to coordinate them in a unified and perfect whole. Perfect prayer also requires a fusing of all the various elements into one simple, direct communion.
This makes it necessary that we summarize at this point the factors that have gone before.
Where there is God, there is Love.
Where there is Love, there is Joy.
Where there is Joy, there is Power.
Where there is Power, God is glorijied.
Where God is glorijied, there is Love.
The rhythmic round repeats itself. This is the only example of real perpetual motion ever known to the experience of man. It is perpetual because it begins and ends in God.
A straight line has a beginning and an ending. Convert it into a circle and it has no beginning and no ending.
It is from everlasting to everlasting. It is infinite, eternal.
In sports we learn the value of the circle over the straight line. The stroke in golf begins with the club over the player’s head, describes a perfect arc and follows through to complete the perfect circle. No “chop” stroke can equal the follow-through stroke in athletics, no matter whether the game be golf, baseball or tennis. Moreover, it is an acknowledged fact that the more love a man has for the sport and the more joy he puts into the stroke, the greater the force of the blow. Indeed, we may actually say that the great golfer swings his club downward with love and joy, strikes the ball with power, and follows through with the glorious and majestic sweep of the unconscious artist as his eye follows the ball on its triumphant course. The only conscious part of the stroke is raising the club for the start, and guiding it downward in love and joy. The actual stroke that sends the ball and the follow-through are the unconscious aftermath of the downward stroke.
Consider the length of the sweep of the complete golf-stroke with the fraction of an inch of space in which the club is in actual contact with the ball, and you get a pretty clear idea of the relative amount of attention you should give in your prayer to the actual thing you are praying for. Just as the novice in golf thinks he must put his club behind the ball and shove it along the ground, so the novice in things spiritual lays his prayer hard against his need and shoves it along. How feeble and how futile are such prayers! “ But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Let us carry this analogy into prayer. Start the prayer by lifting our eyes to God and stretching our mind to take in His glory. Start the prayer in Love, and Love will inspire in us Joy; then let us not think of the resultant Power that will manifest itself in response to our prayer, nor of the glory and majesty of the follow-through; rather let us know that these will follow—will follow as inevitably as night follows day in that vast circle in which the earth turns each twenty-four hours; let us know this so absolutely that we shall rest assured in perfect trust, knowing that he will be kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on God.
Every prayer thus uttered becomes an eternal prayer. Though we finish the prayer in five minutes and go away and leave it, so to speak, the prayer goes on forever, because it is a circle; because it is perpetual motion; because it came from God and goes to God; because it has no beginning and no ending. That prayer is eternal. It will continue to work for mankind until the end of the ages. The person prayed for will continue to receive its benefit as long as he lives.
It will abide with him throughout all eternity.
How can we apply this prayer to the things of the mind?
What is genius in writing, speaking, planning, organizing and creating? According to Stevenson, genius is an artist’s true joy in his work. What causes one to have joy in his work? His love for that work. What is love but God made manifest in man? For the man who desires to do inspired, artistic, creative work, whether it be in writing, in business, in teaching, in speaking,—no matter what his vocation or profession,—the process of preparation is the same. He should first look to God, from whence cometh his help, then realize clearly that God expresses himself through man in Love; that Love—if it be unselfish—inevitably finds in its realization the most radiant Joy; that this Joy, founded on Love, releases infinite Power; and that this Power, released through Joy and Love, inevitably redounds to the Glory of God.
How can we apply this prayer to things of the body?
What is the source of the power of the athlete? All trainers agree that it resides primarily not in the muscles but in the condition. What is the secret of good condition? A good heart. And what is the reality of which the heart is a symbol? Love. So when praying for strength in athletics or for health in those who are sick, the process is the same—one should pray again in the perfect circle which carries one’s thought from everlasting to everlasting, beginning and ending with God. Here one can realize that the reality back of the heart is spiritual, the expression of God as Love; that this Love is perfect, whole, pure, omnipotent; that the reality behind the blood is spiritual—joy circulating throughout the consciousness. This Joy is pure, perfect, life-giving; nothing can possibly prevent the perfect circulation of this Joy, for Love is the power which circulates this Joy throughout the consciousness; and Love is omnipotent, for Love is God.
And what about the “follow-through?” Take no thought for the winning of the race, the getting of perfect health, the making of a perfect stroke. Be not anxious for your (physical) life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the (spiritual) life more than meat; and the (spiritual) body more than raiment? Keep the mind stayed on God, and know simply that “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory and the majesty.”
Those who have experienced in their hearts the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven within know that it is compounded largely of Love and Joy. Perhaps the most accurate definition of heaven is: Love expressed through Joy. Remember that definition then, when you end the Lord’s prayer next time, and you will find you have the complete circle of prayer in one sentence:—
For Thine is the Kingdom
(That is, Love and Joy)
And the Power and the Glory
Finally, remember the “forever.” Remember that this prayer is eternal. It will stand up in the last day and plead for you. It will walk beside you at the noonday. It will be a light to guide your steps when the darkness comes. Fill the world then with such prayers, living and eternal prayers, knowing that no word of God will come back to you void, but that bread cast upon the waters shall be found again after many days.
© 1925, The Atlantic Monthly Press Inc.