Effectual Prayer: Preparation
TRUE PRAYER is communion with God, and man's thoughts must take on the spiritual quality of God's thoughts if he would meet the great Giver face to face and receive of Him. The Master truly teaches this in His words "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man [one immersed in material thought] to enter the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:25). Then to pray truly a person must mentally unload his human desires and emotions, that he may become holy enough to feel the God presence, still enough to hear the God message, open enough to receive the God gifts.
In the case of every one of us barriers stand in the way of our already answered prayers to prevent their coming into manifestation, barriers that we ourselves have erected and daily maintain in their solidity and impenetrability. Some of these barriers we know – faults, habits, hurts – but we have never come to the point where we were quite willing to give them up, we have not yet gathered spiritual strength and courage to loose them and let them go from our mind and life. Other barriers are more subtle, more deeply established, unremembered. These are subconscious barriers, those of which the Master spoke when He said, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:21); that is, by cleansing and renewing, by denial and affirmation, by letting go of self and touching the God power.
Our life should be filled with good, because all of heaven and earth was created good and given to man for profit and enjoyment. When an error condition in our life does not respond to prayer for its removal, we have a right to ask why: "What is there in me that is keeping this good from me?" Self-scrutiny at times, if rightly entered into, does no harm, but continued use of it creates more error conditions like those which we see in our search for the cause. When we do start to seek out the cause of any error condition, any unanswered prayer, we should first fill our mind with love and peace, build up faith, and enter into a realization of that glory which we had with the Father in the beginning, "before the world was." There need be no fear in this search if we let the Presence go before and lead the way, holding high the light that dissolves even as it searches out the error. There need be no reaping of a harvest of suffering from this search if we remember that we continually have the ministrations of the Most High, ever ready and able to cleanse to the uttermost, lovingly cooperating with our every endeavor to let go of error and reach the higher ground of the Christ consciousness. As we put all in His hands we shall be filled with strength and faith, courage and poise, through the presence of the One, of whom Paul said: "We have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).
If impersonal and unprejudiced and sincere search
is made for the cause of an unanswered prayer for more life or love or wisdom or abundance, if we let no excuse, no self-pity, no blame of another enter, the cause of the inharmonious appearance will be found, whether we recognize it or not. The forgiving love of Jesus Christ, the love that said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34) will wipe out all the errors of consciousness. The love that said, "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise," (Luke 23:43) will put in action the law of re-creation, and appearances will begin to change, will instantly change, if our faith is strong and we are looking entirely to our Father, who is quick to give, quick to forgive.
Many are the causes that may be found in the inner search, through our unloading of human desires and emotions, this preparation to be fitted to meet our God. Perhaps we shall discover that our eyes have been fixed on the demonstration of things; instead of trusting God momently for every need we have been going to Him only in our extremity, when human help failed and our own endeavors came to naught. Perhaps we have uttered selfish prayers, asking for those things which would deprive another, hurt another, not yet fully realizing that only the good that man spiritually earns can come to Him. Perhaps we go to the Giver harboring thoughts of hatred or condemnation, forgetting the Master's admonition to become reconciled with our brother before approaching the altar. Perhaps we are seeking our own good, with envious thoughts of another's success and abundance; seeking freedom from debt,
while yet holding another in the bondage of debt to us. Few of us seek to enter the holy place without something in our heart that would profane the altar of the Lord. In this we are re-enacting the sacrificial rites of the Israelites of old: we are offering polluted bread in our devotional. To us now, as at that time, Jehovah says: "I have no pleasure in you ... neither will I accept an offering at your hand" (Mal. 1:10). Anything in the heart that is un-Christlike – hatred, criticism, intolerance, selfishness, condemnation, injustice, impatience, jealousy, even anxiety and fear is like polluted bread and must be cast out before the Christ can take up His abode with us and do His perfect work in us.
If one person feels any ill will toward another, holds any unforgiveness in his heart, no matter how great seems the cause for offense, he should cleanse his heart with a "God bless you, I love you, and forgive you," and this blessing should be made part of the feeling nature before it is dropped. It may seem hard in the beginning. It may be only from the lips that the words come. There will come a time however, if we earnestly desire to feel this forgiving love, when it will wipe out even the remembrance of an offense, and a great joy and a new freedom will take its place. In the greatest of all prayers our Master said, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." He also said, "Love your enemies"; and to Peter's query of how often he should forgive his brother, He replied, "Until seventy times seven," (Matt. 18:22) meaning until every
offense was completely forgiven. Until we learn this manner of forgiving we need not expect much from our prayers, for we are lacking in that quality which is the fulfilling of the law, that magnetic quality which draws us to God and the good to us. The law cannot wipe out the results of our past errors when the heart does not contain that which is in itself the redeeming force in man, neither can the love of God enter an embittered heart, a hardened heart, an unforgiving heart and manifest itself in the only way it can, as health and joy, peace and abundance.
We need also to forgive ourselves in the same way that we should forgive others. We may be condemning ourselves for some past act that we call a mistake, and grief in the heart and a constant repeating of the act in the mind shuts out the love of God, which has the power to make all things new. We should count each experience that has been ours as a lesson in the school of life, one through which we come to higher knowledge. It is only necessary for us to pass through an experience once, and we need not linger if we get the lesson quickly; but as long as we cling in our mind to a past experience it is given power to repeat itself in our life. It is made easier to let go and forgive the errors of ourselves or others when we remember that the forgiving love of Jesus Christ has already cleansed the whole world of sin, present, past, and future, and the manifestation of it in our life only awaits our acceptance of this and the living of a higher life. We need to remember also that in the mind of the Father there
never has been and never will be any condemnation and that He who is most greatly sinned against recognizes it not at all. To pray without ceasing, that is, to look continually toward God and His sinless heaven, is to enter into this mind also which sees no error, therefore takes no offense and has nothing to forgive. Who are we that we should hug to our heart and pronounce an error that which the Father sees not, shutting out our good and the joy of life! The quicker we take up forgiveness on the occasion of offense, knowing "It is already forgiven" the easier it will be and the less we shall have to reap under the law. Did not the Master say, "What is that to thee? follow thou me" (John 21:22). Our work is not to inquire into the failure of others to live the Truth and, by recognizing and resisting something that they have started into action, to do time in reaping the consequences of broken law; it is rather to give all our attention to ever advancing toward the goal of our high calling in Christ Jesus. Such an attitude not only makes life more joyful for us, more productive of the good for which we pray, but it adds to the high consciousness of the race and brings nearer the time when this forgiven offense will appear no more in the hearts of men, when man and man, nation and nation, will live without offending one another. This constant attitude means the accomplishment of our part in answering that portion of the greatest of all prayers: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth."
The preparation for prayer through cleansing, has
a denial side, a tearing down of the old structure preparatory to the building of the new, a wiping out of error to make way for the entrance of good. There is another side to the preparation for prayer, that of affirmation or constructive thinking, which carries us into the high watch, where dwells the Lover, the Giver, the Knower. We should never use any denial or cleansing thought without immediately following it with a high and holy aspiration or realization; for to leave a vacancy such as a denial makes is to make room for other errors to enter, and perhaps the last state will be worse than the first. There is a higher way of cleansing, when the mind is ready to accept it, in which no denials are necessary. If one can turn quickly enough to God, refusing entrance to the mind of the error, refusing recognition of it, and can keep the mind full of prayer and affirmation of the good, the error will be as effectually wiped out as is the impurity of a pool when a stream of pure water is allowed to pass through it continuously.
Each must conduct for himself the search for the closed door that is keeping his good from him, keeping his prayers from being answered. When the search is finished, no matter what is written over the door, each will find that the real cause is a lack of God in the heart and mind. We have not often enough and long enough lifted our eyes to the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps, who keeps us from all evil; we have not sought to dwell constantly in "the secret place of the Most High" (Psalms 91:1); we have not
turned often enough in times of pain to the Great Physician whose touch brings wholeness; nor in times of lack to the omnipresent Banker who continually presses out substance into every receptacle held out to Him; nor in times of darkness and ignorance of the way to the great Knower who gives of His omniscience freely to all who put their dependence in Him. We have not kept the high watch but have let our vision drop to happenings, seeing good and evil, and bringing into our life the manifestation of this mixed state of consciousness. We have called on God in another consciousness than the God consciousness, our mind more on the gifts than on the Giver. There is something in our mind, before God, and we are again the Israelites contending on Mount Carmel and with the same results: "They ... called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered" (I Kings 18:26). But when like Elijah we repair the altar within and in faith and purity of thought make our needs known, even though the waters of negation seem to surround us and overflow us, as surely as Elijah's God burned up the wood and licked up the water as a sign of His presence so will our God show Himself greater than any circumstance, greater than any condition or personality in our life.
To know God truly enough to receive is to know that He withholds no good thing from any of His creation, whether it be plant, animal, or man. Only in this knowledge can we ask, believing we have already
received, and see with the God vision as already accomplished. He who created the "Very good" still rests in this perfection and to enter this place with Him, if only for a moment, is to start into action something higher than the mortal knows. All that is less than good, all those things which bring sorrow and suffering, which leave regrets and bitterness, have been brought into our world through the wrong use of our power of choice. To acknowledge that we ourselves have brought into our world everything less than good, to forgive ourselves for all the blame we have ever attached to God or to others for the sorrows and sufferings that have come to us, is a very important step in preparation for prayer. Do you believe this? Can you truly take all the blame and give to the Father the praise and glory for all the good of your life? To know that God is more willing to give the good gifts than we are to receive them, that He is continually pushing out the good to His children through every avenue that they open to receive it, is to begin to assume the attitude of true prayer.
It is well always to have a fixed season and place of prayer. God is omnipresent, we know, but this habit of regularity seems to aid the physical man to relax, the intellectual man to concentrate and let the spiritual man take full possession. To go apart faithfully, earnestly, joyously once, twice, three times a day as the duties of the life permit and commune with the Father, is the path to the attainment of the Christ consciousness in which there is no
separation of God and man in thought or manifestation. If Jesus Christ in His perfect conception of oneness with the Father found it necessary to withdraw from the sights and sounds of materiality that surged about Him and spend a time apart cleansing His human consciousness of these sights and sounds and renewing within Him the glory and power of His sonship, how much more should we do likewise, who have only in a very small degree entered into that perfect union? Just how much we need to leave materiality behind, to still the mortal thought and bodily emotions, to enter into the joy of the I AM, we do not realize until we practice it and come forth feeling that all things are made new.
If we make our time for prayer a holy time set apart for communion with our God and are faithful to it in mind, outer things in our life will cease to disturb us as we dedicate it to the Father. If guests are in the home, excuse yourself at the appointed time and go to the regular place, if only to say: "My Father, this time is holy unto Thee. Everything and everybody in my world works in harmony with Thy love." When this is done you can return and enter into the needs of the hour with renewed strength, and enjoyment. If the telephone or the doorbell rings during the time of silence, let it ring a moment while you repeat your affirmation; then attend to it. No matter what the disturbance may be, do not resist it or quarrel with it or it will continue to repeat itself. Bless the person or thing that interrupts, seeing each in its right place. When we really desire more
than anything else a period of silent communion with our Father and appoint and dedicate a time for this purpose, the law by which true prayer is answered will hold back every disturbing element, and the mind of people who might otherwise turn to us at this time will be given pleasant occupation elsewhere. If some person continues to tread on our sacred ground, we can operate in accord with the law by using a thought for ourselves and him something like this one, "Father, for myself and (name) I ask that Thy power, of love and justice be now expressed in each of our lives." When we pray such a prayer, the one who has been interrupting will find some happy occupation at the time we have set apart for worship, and this time of renewal and communion will be left undisturbed. We have only to test God to prove His promises, we have only to start Godward to find the Father running to meet us, we have only to let go of the self to find the greatness of His presence.
Cleanse Thou me, O Spirit of love, from all conscious and subconscious transgressions of Thy law. Let me enter into Thy presence and see as Thou doth see. Let me bring forth Thy glory that the outer may become as the within. Where Thou dwellest in love and purity and peace let me there dwell also.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desires
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire,
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm.
"Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him." (Psalms 37:7)
"The eternal God is thy dwelling-place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deut. 33:27)
"Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God." (Rom. 12:1)
"Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him." (Hab. 2:20)
"Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Cor. 3:16)
"Ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body." (I Cor. 6:20)