TO A PERSON in the understanding of Truth prayer should be an affirmation of that which is in Being.
What is the necessity of the prayer of affirmation if Being already is? In order that the creative law of the Word may be fulfilled. All things are in God as potentialities. It is man's office under the divine law to bring into manifestation that which has been created or planned by the unmanifest. Everybody should pray. Through prayer we develop the highest phase of character. Prayer softens and refines the whole man. A prominent skeptic once said that the most unattractive thing in existence was a prayerless woman.
Prayer is not supplication or begging but a simple asking for that which we know is waiting for us at the hands of our Father and an affirmation of its existence. The prayer that Jesus gave as a model is simplicity itself. There is none of that awe-inspiring "O Thou" that ministers often affect in public prayer but only the ordinary informal request of a son to his Father for things needed.
"Father ... Hallowed be thy name." Here in the Lord's Prayer is a recognition of the all-inclusiveness and completeness of Divine Mind. Everything has its sustenance from this one source; therefore "the
earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (Psalms 24:1).
We need supplies for the day only. Hoarding for future necessity breeds selfishness. The Children of Israel tried to save the manna, but it spoiled on their hands.
The law "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7) is here shorn of its terrors. If we forgive others we shall be forgiven, and the penalty of suffering for sins will be eliminated.
It does not seem possible that God would lead us into temptation. The statement about temptation follows closely that regarding the forgiveness of sin, and it is evidently a part of it. "Let not temptation lead us" is a permissible interpretation.
Jesus advised asking for what we want and being persistent in our demands. People ignorant of the relation in which man stands to God wonder why we should ask and even importune a Father who has provided all things for us. This is explained when we perceive that God is a great mind reservoir that has to be tapped by man's mind and poured into visibility through man's thought or word. If the mind of man is clogged with doubt, lethargy, or fear, he must open the way by persistent knocking and asking. "Pray without ceasing," (I Thess. 5:17) "continuing instant in prayer" (Rom. 12:12). Acquire in prayer a facility in asking equal to the mathematician's expertness in handling numbers and you will get responses in proportion.
We give our children what we consider good gifts from our limited and transitory store, but when the gifts of God are put into our minds we have possessions
that are eternal and will go on being productive for all time.
Undoubtedly the one thing that stands out prominently in the teaching of Jesus is the necessity of prayer. He prayed on the slightest pretext, or in some such manner invoked the presence of God. He prayed over situations that most men would deal with without the intervention of God. If He was verily God incarnate, the skeptic often asks, why did He so often appeal to an apparently higher God. To answer this doubt intelligently and truly one must understand the constitution of man.
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There are always two men in each individual. The man without is the picture that the man within paints with his mind. This mind is the open door to the unlimited principle of Being. When Jesus prayed He was setting into action the various powers of His individuality in order to bring about certain results. Within His identity was of God; without He was human personality.
The various mental attitudes denoted by the word prayer are not comprehended by those unfamiliar with the spiritual constitution of man. When the trained metaphysician speaks of his demonstrations through prayer, he does not explain all the movements of his spirit and mind, because the outer consciousness has not the capacity to receive it.
When we read of Jesus spending whole nights in prayer, the first thought is that He was asking and begging God for something. But we find prayer to be many-sided; it is not only asking but receiving
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also. We must pray believing that we shall receive. Prayer is both invocation and affirmation. Meditation, concentration, denial, and affirmation in the silence are all forms of what is loosely termed prayer.
Thus Jesus was demonstrating at night over the error thoughts of mind. He was lifting the mortal mind up to the plane of Spirit through some prayerful thought. The Son of man must be lifted up, and there is no way to do this except through prayer.
One who exercises his thought powers discovers that there is a steady growth with proper use. The powers of the mind are developed in much the same way that the muscles of the body are. Persistent affirmation of a certain desire in the silence concentrates the mental energies and beats down all barriers.
Jesus illustrates the power of such affirmative prayer, of repeated silent demands for justice, for instance, by the case of the widow bereft of worldly protection and power (Luke 18:1-5). To the widow's persistence even the ungodly judge succumbs. The unceasing prayer of faith is commanded in the Scriptures in various places.
If a man's prayers are based on the thought of his own righteousness and the sinfulness of others, he does not fulfill the law of true prayer. Self-righteousness is an exclusory thought and closes the door to the great Father love that we all want. We are not to justify ourselves in the sight of God but let the Spirit of justice and righteousness do its perfect work through us.
That God and angels and heaven exist is accepted
by all who believe the Scriptures, but there is wide diversity of thought about their character and abode. Those who read the Bible after the letter have invented all kinds of imaginary notions as to the conditions under which God and His angels live and as to the location of heaven. Their minds being fixed on things, they have not conceived of the realm of ideas, and they are therefore totally ignorant of the true teaching of the Scriptures. To understand the Bible one must know about the constitution of man. This is the key to all mysteries, the knowledge of man's true self. "Know thyself."
Man is spirit, soul, body (I Thess. 5:23). These are coexistent. God is the principle of being as an axiom is a principle of mathematics. God is not confined to locality. Is a mathematical principle confined to a particular place and not found elsewhere? "The kingdom of God is within you." God is the real of man's being. It follows that all the powers that are attributed to God may become operative in man. Then we live right in the presence of God and angels and heaven. What seems a desert place is filled with angelic messengers, and like Jacob we know it not.
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Man sets into action any of the three realms of his being, spirit, soul, and body, by concentrating his thought on them. If he thinks only of the body, the physical senses encompass all his existence. If mind and emotion are cultivated he adds soul to his consciousness. If he rises to the Absolute and comprehends Spirit, he rounds out the God-man.
Spirit is the source of soul and body, hence the
ruling power. Its works are so swift and so transcend the limitations of matter that the natural man cannot comprehend them and hence calls them "miracles." But all things are done under law. "Prayer was made earnestly of the church unto God for him," (Acts 12:5) and Peter was delivered from prison by an angel. The earnest prayers of the devout believers in the power of supreme Spirit brought about the result. The history of Christianity is full of instances of so-called miracles wrought through prayer. The hour-long prayer of Luther by what was supposed to be the deathbed of his friend Melanchthon is a famous instance of importunate pleadings. It was Luther's firm belief that Melanchthon's years of continued life were the direct answer to his prayers.
[TruthUnity note: these last two sentences are a direct quotation from Peloubet's Select Notes on the International Lessons, 1909 by Francis Nathan Peloubet, Mary Abby Thaxter Peloubet, p.124. Peloubet was quoted repeatedly in Unity magazine from 1900 onward.]
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Mighty things have been wrought in the past by those who had mere blind faith to guide them. To faith we now add understanding of the law, and our achievements will be a fulfillment of the promise of Jesus "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do." The prayer of Luther and its results are now being duplicated every day. As we go on in the exercise of the spiritual faculties we shall strengthen them and understand them better, and we shall cease to talk about anything miraculous. All things are possible to man when he exercises his spiritual power under the divine law.
When man directs the power of exalted ideas into his body, he exalts the cells, releases their innate spiritual energy, and causes them finally to disappear
from physical sight into the omnipresent luminous ether. This is what Jesus accomplished at His ascension. The promise was that all who follow Him in the regeneration of the body would do likewise. It is true that even the followers of Jesus have not always understood the scientific import of His doctrine. They have mentally absorbed His exalted ideas and looked to their fulfillment in a faraway heaven in the skies. By thus projecting their ideas toward a fulfillment outside of the body they have separated their soul or mind consciousness from its companion, the body, and the deserted cells have been resolved into their mother principle, the earth.
The mind of man is constantly projecting thought energies or waves through brain cells into the ether or space element in which we live. Every person lives in an environment of radiant energy that circulates through the cells of his organism like bees in a hive. Ordinarily we cannot see the radiations of the mind, but we almost universally feel them. When a discordant mind impinges upon our mind radiations we instinctively shrink away. But we are radiantly happy in the presence of an exalted mind. [TruthUnity note: "exalted mind" was "exalted soul" in the original 1939 edition]
"No man hath beheld God at any time." Seers, prophets, preachers, and holy men and women in all ages are a unit in saying that they have become acquainted with God through prayer, expressed in the spirit of their minds.
This testimony to God's spiritual presence is so unanimous that no one seeks His help in any way other than through the spirit of the mind; and the
fact that we know God with our minds and not with our senses proves that God is Spirit.
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In its higher functioning the mind of man deals with spiritual ideas, and we can truthfully say that man is a spiritual being. This fact explains the almost universal worship of God by men and makes possible the conjunction of the heaven and the earth by those who understand the underlying laws of prayer. Jesus stated this emphatically in John 4:24 (margin): "God is Spirit; and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
Then the real foundation of all effective prayer is the understanding that God is Spirit and that man, His offspring, is His image and likeness, hence spiritual.
Such a concept of God gives man a point of contact that is never absent; in all places and under all conditions he has the assurance of the attention and help of God when he realizes the Father's spiritual presence and comradeship.
When it has a spiritually poised mind to work through, Spirit is not limited in its power by any material environment. "With God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26 To make this strong statement of Jesus come true we must study the laws of God and strive to carry them out through a quickened consciousness.
The Bible is replete with situations where men and women seemed beyond any material help, but through faith and prayer they triumphed right in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The author of the 11th chapter of Hebrews builds pyramids
of faith demonstrations. Hear the climax:
"And what shall I more say? for the time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah; of David and Samuel and the prophets who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens." Heb. 11:32
Paul might have added to his pyramid of faith the long list of miraculous healings of diseases and many superhuman works recorded in the Bible, among which are the restoration of the leper Naaman and the resurrection of the Shunammite's son by Elisha; the control of the elements by Elijah; the overcoming of gravity in the floating of the workman's axhead from the bottom of the Jordan by Elisha, and Moses' causing the water to gush from the rock.
The majority of people think that great spiritual faith is necessary to get marvelous results. But Jesus taught differently. "The apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye would say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea; and it would obey you." (Luke 17:6)
The mustard is among the smallest of seeds, and the comparison would indicate what a tiny bit of real faith is necessary to cause motion in material things. Paul and Silas in the Roman jail prayed and sang until their bonds fell off, the doors flew open,
and they walked out, both free men. On the day of Pentecost the followers of Jesus prayed and sang until the ethers were so accelerated that tongues of fire flashed from the bodies of the worshipers, and they were miraculously quickened in mental ability.
Prayer liberates the energies pent up in mind and body. Those who pray much create a spiritual aura that eventually envelops the whole body. The bands of light painted by artists around the heads of saints are not imaginary; they actually exist and are visible to the sharp eye of the painter. The Scriptures testify in Luke 9:29 that when Jesus was praying "his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling." After Moses had been praying on the mountain his face shone so brightly that the people could not look on it, and he had to wear a veil.
Thus prayer is obviously dynamic and actuates the spiritual ethers that interpenetrate all substance. Prayer is related directly to the creative laws of God, and when man adjusts his mind and body in harmony with those laws, his prayers will always be effective and far-reaching. The activity of the mind that is named the understanding is essential in righteous prayer. Spirit is omnipresent, but the individual consciousness gives it a local habitation and a name.
If in thinking about God we locate Him in a faraway heaven and direct our thoughts outward in the hope of reaching Him, all our force will be driven from us to that imaginary place and we shall become devitalized.
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"The kingdom of God is within you." The pivotal point around which Spirit creates is within the structure of consciousness. This is true of the primal cell as well as of the most complex organ. The throne on which the divine will sits is within man's consciousness, and it is to this inner center that he should direct his attention when praying or meditating. David called this spiritual center of the soul "the secret place of the Most High," and all the defense and power of the 91st Psalm is promised to the one who dwells in the consciousness of the Almighty within. Paul says, "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Cor. 3:16)
In the 6th chapter of Matthew, in giving His disciples directions for prayer, Jesus called attention to the God center in man in these words: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee" (Matt. 6:6). He also told them not to use vain repetitions: "For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."
If Divine Mind knows our needs, why should we have to ask to have them supplied? We do not ask expecting God to hand us the things we want, but we realize that He has made provision in the very nature of things for our every need to be fulfilled. When we realize this and go about our work in perfect confidence, the fulfillment of the divine law of support and supply is often demonstrated in ways we had not dreamed of.
Do not supplicate or beg God to give you what you need, but get still and think about the inexhaustible resources of infinite Mind, its presence in all its fullness, and its constant readiness to manifest itself when its laws are complied with. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
We all need a better understanding of the nature of God if we are to comply with the laws under which He creates. We must begin by knowing that "God is Spirit." Spirit is not located in a big man called God but is everywhere the breath of life and the knowing quality of mind active in and through all bodies, "over all, and through all, and in all." The highest form of prayer is to open our minds and quietly realize that the one omnipresent intelligence knows our thoughts and instantly answers, even before we have audibly expressed our desires.
This being true, we should ask and at the same time give thanks that we have already received. Jesus expressed this idea in Mark 11:24: "Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Before He broke the miraculously multiplied loaves and fishes and fed the five thousand He looked up to heaven and gave thanks. When He raised Lazarus He first said: "Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. And I knew that thou hearest me always." Then He commanded Lazarus to come forth.
We observe that all things come out of the formless, but our knowledge of the formless is so limited
that we do not conceive of its infinite possibilities. When we think or silently speak in the all-potential ethers of Spirit, there is always an unfailing effect. "Whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" (Luke 12:3).
Silent prayer is more effective than audible, because by silent prayer the mind comes into closer touch with the creative Spirit. James says, "The prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up" (James 5:15). Countless thousands are applying this faith prayer today and are being healed as men were in the time of Jesus.
The strange thing is that this very important proof of the Spirit's work in Christian healing should have been neglected for so many hundred years when Jesus gave it as one of the signs of a believer: "These signs shall accompany them that believe; in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:17).
The history of the Christian church records that during its first three hundred years the followers of Jesus healed the sick by prayer and that healing was gradually dropped as the church became prosperous and worldly. A layman from a rural district was being shown, by a bishop, the riches of a cathedral. The bishop said, "The church can no longer say,
'Silver and gold have I none.'" "No," said the layman. "Neither can it say, 'Take up thy bed, and walk.'" [TruthUnity note: the layman in this this exchange is said to be Thomas Acquinas, who was replying to the Pope. Search for "True holy father, but neither can she now say, 'Rise and walk."]
It is found by those who have faith in the power of God that the prayer for health is the most quickly answered. The reason for this is that the natural laws that create and sustain the body are really divine laws, and when man silently asks for the intervention of God in restoring health, he is calling into action the natural forces of his being. Doctors agree that the object of using their remedies is to quicken the natural functions of the body. But medicine does not appeal to the intelligent principle that directs all the activities of the organism, hence it fails to give permanent healing.
However a conscious union with the natural life forces lying within and back of all the complex activities of man gets right to the fountainhead, and the results are unfailing if the proper connection has been made.
The first step in prayer for health is to get still. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10). To get still the body must be relaxed and the mind quieted. Center the attention within. There is a quiet place within us all, and by silently saying over and over, "Peace, be still," (Mark 4:39) we shall enter that quiet place and a great stillness will pervade our whole being. Jesus Christ said, "Peace be unto you. ... Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (John 20:21). That is, He spoke to the within. He said also, "whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13).
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." This verse from Isa. 55:8 gives us an insight into the difference between the mortal thinker and the divine. Divine Mind is serene, orderly, placid, while sense mind is turbulent, discordant, and violent. We can readily understand from this comparison why we do not get divine guidance even though we strive ever so hard for it. The best of us are subject to crosscurrents of worry that interfere with the even flow of God's thoughts into our consciousness. Jesus warned His followers not to be anxious about what they should eat, drink, or wear. In all literature there is no finer comparison than that given by Jesus when He pointed to the flowers and said: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matt. 6:28 Luke 12:27).
If God so clothes the lilies, shall He not much more clothe His children? This argument holds good with reference to all human needs. There is a natural law whose chief purpose is to take care of the human family. But the divine order of creative Mind must be observed by man before he can receive the benefits of his natural inheritance.
Metaphysicians, who study the mind and its many modes of action, find that when they refuse to let thoughts of worry, anxiety, or other distraction act in
their minds, they gradually establish an inner quietness that finally merges into a great peace. This is the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding." When this peace is attained, the individual gets inspirations and revelations direct from infinite Mind.
Any method that will hush the external thought clamor will achieve unity with the inner peace. When we are in peaceful sleep, the outer clamor of thought is stilled and the great Spirit of the universe communicates its higher vision to the inner consciousness of man.
The ancient peoples seem to have been more open than moderns to revelations in sleep. Long ago Job 33:15-16 wrote in the 33d chapter of his book:
"In a dream, in a vision of the night,
When deep sleep falleth upon men,
In slumberings upon the bed;
Then he openeth the ears of men,
And sealeth their instruction."
It is written in I Kings, chapter 3, that the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, "Ask what I shall give thee" (I Kings 3:5). Solomon did not ask for riches, for honor, or for the glory that kings usually seek, but in meekness he asked the Lord to give him an "understanding heart" so that he might discriminate between good and evil and be a wise judge of his people. Riches and honor followed of course, as they always do when a man is earnestly striving to be honest and just in all ways.
We get our most vivid revelations when in a meditative state of mind. This proves that when we make the mind trustful and confident, we put it in harmony with creative Mind; then its force flows to us in accordance with the law of like attracting like.
The agonizing, supplicating, begging prayer is not answered, because the thoughts are so turbulent that Divine Mind cannot reach the pleader. Jesus prayed with a confident assurance that what He wanted would be granted, and He established a mode of prayer for His followers that never fails when the same conditions and relations are attained and maintained with reference to the Father-Mind.
Through His spiritual attainments Jesus formed a spiritual zone in the earth's mental atmosphere; His followers make connection with that zone when they pray in His "name." He stated this fact in John 14:2: "I go to prepare a place for you." Simon Peter said, "Lord, whither goest thou?" Jesus answered him, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow afterwards."
When Jesus had purified His body sufficiently, He ascended into this "place" in the spiritual ethers of our planet. In our high spiritual realizations we make temporary contact with Him and His spiritual character, represented by His "name." But we, like the apostles, are not yet able to go there and abide, because we have not overcome earthly attachments. We shall however attain the same freedom and spiritual power that He attained if we follow Him in the regeneration. But we should clearly understand that we cannot go to Jesus' "place" through death. We must overcome death as He did before we can
be glorified with Him in the "heavens," the higher realms of the mind.
We should not cease to pray to the Father in the name of Christ Jesus; He said that man should "pray always." Prayer lifts our thoughts on high and sets us free from the narrow limits of matter, just as the electromagnetic impulse is lifted and carried by the ether and caught by any receptive station. Spiritual-minded people are being united today, as in the past, by zones of spiritual force that will eventually become the permanent thought atmosphere of the planet. In Revelation this is typified as the New Jerusalem descending out of the heavens into the earth.
Jesus said we could ask whatsoever we wished in His name and it should be done unto us: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full" (John 16:23).
Jesus taught in parables because the people did not understand that spiritual forces, acting through mind, make race conditions. But He told them: "The hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings, but shall tell you plainly of the Father." The time prophesied by Jesus—when we should plainly understand the character of the Father—is now at hand, and it behooves all Christians to come out of parables and to realize that scientific laws govern the material, mental, and spiritual realms of Being.
"Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks," wrote Paul to the Thessalonians (I Thess. 5:16). The idea is that we should be persistent in prayer. We know it is always the will of the air to give us all that we can breathe into our lungs. Jesus compared the Spirit to the air in describing the new birth to Nicodemus. It requires lung capacity to breathe deeply of the oceans of air; so it requires spiritual capacity to realize how accessible and ready omnipresent Spirit is to fill us full of itself. The lack is in us. God is more willing to give than we are to receive.
To acquire the mind that is always open to Spirit we must be persistent in prayer. It is written in the 18th chapter of Luke: "And he spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). He then told of the judge who feared not God nor man yet who was worn out by the persistency of a woman who demanded justice.
By experimentation modern metaphysical healers have discovered a large number of laws that rule in the realm of mind, and they all agree that no two cases are exactly alike. Therefore one who prays for the health of another should understand that it is not the fault of the healing principle that his patient is not instantly restored. The fault may be in his own lack of persistency or understanding; or it may be due to the patient's dogged clinging to discordant thoughts. In any case the one who prays must persist in this prayer until the walls of resistance are broken down and the healing currents are tuned in. Metaphysicians often pray over a critical case all night,
as history says Luther prayed for the dying Melanchthon and brought about his recovery.
Persistency in prayer awakens the spiritual consciousness and sets into perpetual glow the core of the soul. When this has been accomplished, one is in a constant state of thanksgiving and praising, and the joy of a conscious union with creative Mind is realized.
Preceding Entry: Jesus Christ Heals 53-66: Producing Results
Following Entry: Jesus Christ Heals 87-99: God Said, and It Was So