Agnes Sanford—Prayer of Healing
Camps Farthest Out Message
...presence with us. Abide with us now as we meditate upon thy words and works. For thy own namesake we ask, amen.
First I must tell you how glad I am to be with you and also confess to you that I rather bullied Mr. Whitman into letting me get up here. Not that I want to show off, but... Now, don’t tell anybody but the truth is, I’m getting to be an old lady and it’s harder for me to throw my voice than it used to be. So I claimed I had to be up high. Can you hear me in the back there? If ever you can’t, just raise your hand and I’ll now you can’t and speak up a little bit louder.
Now I want to talk all three nights about the Lord, Jesus Christ, because you know there’s a great deal about him that we still do not know and do not grasp and right there is the secret of all power is in the name of Jesus himself. He said in Matthew 11, you remember, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” And yet, we have come unto him in our various churches, confessing him, acknowledging him. I imagine everyone here, practically everyone, has come unto Jesus in that way, but there are a great many times when we do not have his rest. A great many times when we’re tired and burdened and we’re utterly worn out with life. He said again in John 6, “He that cometh unto me shall hunger no more and he that believeth on me shall thirst no more.” And yet, how often we hunger and thirst for something. Sometimes we know what it is and sometimes we don’t know what it is.
We’re restless. We’re unsatisfied. We pray and we feel that our prayers are not answered. So many of the desires of our hearts have not yet come to us and yet we have come unto him. We have prayed the prayer of faith. I know that you people here have been instructed in the art of prayer. I know that many of you have read my books and I’m really and truly not going to begin at the beginning again. It’s just too boring after 35 years. I’m not going to talk much about the prayer of faith but I’m going to end this talk with praying a prayer of faith with you. And perhaps my prayer will be an illustration of it in order to remind you again and so what I would like you to do now is choose, in your own mind, someone you’d like to pray for and I will conclude by leading you in a prayer of faith.
However, I know that nearly all of you, anyway, have tried this. You’ve tried this for the healing of troubles in yourself and you’ve tried it in praying for other people who need healing and you tried it in other problems of your life and yet you still do hunger and you still do thirst and you do not have his rest, not completely.
Well then, what do we do? What I want to try to do while I’m here these three nights is to stretch your imagination. We’ll begin tonight in little ways. I don’t know yet what I’ll do the third night. I’ll wait and see how you survive tonight. No, tonight will be easy, but will wait and see how much power I feel from you to know how much I dare tell you on the third night. But now, just let’s think together again what it means to come to Jesus. We have acknowledged him, yes. We’ve said we believe in Jesus Christ, but on whom do we believe? Are we just believing in somebody who lived 2000 years ago? Somebody who we read about in the Bible? I wonder.
Very recently, only last week, in fact, I was told of a certain church and congregation, I hope it’s not the whole denomination, I don’t know, where the Sunday school teachers were told that they should not teach the children about Jesus as a present living reality. They must be sure to keep him in the past. I know that’s a little hard to do. I mean, you can keep yourself out of him by trying to keep him in the past but you cannot keep him in the past because that’s not where he is. He’s in the present. He’s in the present and he pervades this entire planet on which we live. I mean literally. I mean scientifically. I mean exactly. His light pervades this planet and if we keep ourselves out of his life, then we can’t stop his being here. We only can stop ourselves being in him.
Don’t you know how sometimes even in the dark, you know when someone else is in the house? It’s a different feeling, isn’t it? If you’re all alone in the house, you wake up in the night and you know you’re alone in that house. It just feels alone. And when there’s someone you love in that house you don’t have to see them. You know that they’re there. You can sense, you can feel their presence. You remember, perhaps, when you were a child and you could tell by the feeling of your heart whether father and mother were in the house or not. You woke in the night and you knew. You did not see them but their feeling pervaded that house. Now that is more than the mere intellectual knowing that they were there. That was your actually sensing in your being, in your deep mind, in your body, even, the radiation or the vibration of this lovely presence in the house.
Now in that way, Jesus Christ is in this Earth. When he was born of the Virgin Mary, then he who was from the very beginning, the direct expression of the substance of God. That’s one translation of the fourth verse of the book of Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 4. One of the translations. “He was the direct expression of the substance of God. The substance of God cannot be seen, ever. We cannot look upon the fullness of God and live but Jesus Christ is the direct expression of the actual substance of God.” And so he was, from the very beginning, even before he was born into this world. And even before he was born into this world, he lived not only as the Logos, the Word. Yes, he did live as the Logos, the Word, but he also lived in a body.
Before he was born of the Virgin Mary, in a spiritual body, not a body made of flesh, it was not made of flesh. Do you know that your own most real and most permanent and most durable body is not made of flesh? This one will pass and, we are told, return again, though how, I do not know. But there is another body in which you are living now. And that is the body that exists at a different rate of vibration, you might say. That is your spirit or your spiritual body presently existing at this very time. Now you know, God is not made in the likeness of man. Man is made in the likeness of God. So who was the first one who lived in spiritual body? Its shape and form somewhat resembling this physical body? Who was the first? Who was the direct expression of the ever-living substance of God? Jesus was the first. Jesus, our Lord.
He was not, at that time, named Jesus. He was called by various names, but he ever lived. And then at a certain time he was able to compress that ever-living spiritual body, most miraculously and most marvelously, into the form of a little baby, a little infant and to be born upon this earth and he became a man. A baby, and then a man. But we do not say in the creed he was made a man. We say much more mysterious words. We say he was made man. That’s terrific. What do we mean by this? Man, the race, mankind. How could he be made man, mankind?
He was made mankind when, at a certain time, he entered upon this tremendous work in which he entered into the deep mind of every person living on the face of the earth. This work that we call the redemption of our Lord, or the passion of our Lord. You’ll find a great deal about this in my book Behold Your God. I do not have time to share with you all my meditations on the subject now, but this much, as soon as I say, you will see of course it is true. Of course.
As he took into himself the sins and the sorrows and the pains and the death of every living person, in order that he could transmute and transform them into the love and the joy and the beauty and glory of God and then return them to us so that we could become reconciled to God. As he did that, don’t you see? He entered into what psychology would call the collective unconscious of the race or the mass mind of the race and he became a very integral part of mankind.
He was made man so that when we descended to hell, the deepest part that is of us, the darkest and deepest corner of us, he is there. And then we ascend into heaven, lo, he is there. And when shared upon this earth the blood out of his body, which contained and was instinct with the very life of his being, that life of our Lord remains upon this earth and surrounding this earth, filling the very air that we breathe with the radiation of his life. Like the presence of father and mother in a house, in a home, fill that house and that room with a feeling so that a child waking up in the night feels good and comforted knowing that daddy and mommy are near. Like that.
If only we know it. If only we dare open our hearts and stretch our imagination enough to know and if only we dare go further and step out on that knowing. And not only does that life of his pervade the air that surrounds this earth, the blood of the Lord, the blood of the lamb sinking into the very earth and increasing forever and radiating forever through this earth. The entire earth is filled with his glory. Did he not say that if the little children did not cry out Hosanna the very stones would cry out Hosanna?
I heard a minister once say that a candle gives out two kinds of light. There is the light you can see and then there is another kind of light, an infrared light, that you cannot see. But that other kind of light, a radiation that you cannot see but yet it is light, comes not only from the flame, but also from the candle itself. And not only does the candle give out such a light, but so this minster said, the very rocks and the trees give out a kind of a light not usually visible to the human eye.
Although sometimes it is and I expect some of you, sometimes it is, have seen it and wondered if you were seeing things. Well, you were. But you’re not imagining things. You’re seeing things that are real, only they’re not usually seen. There are a great many spiritual things that are real and if you continue with courage in this path, you will see more and more. I don’t know that it’s necessary, but it’s very thrilling and it’s very wonderful and makes the whole earth a different place. So all the earth is filled with his glory. Now we sing that all the time and we say it all the time, but it’s true. Jesus is not a historical figure in the past. Jesus incarnate was not just once incarnated. He was incarnated once, but more than that, he is incarnated forever in humanity and he is incarnated forever, even upon this little planet in which we live.
Well, then, why do we still hunger and why do we still thirst? First of all, we have not grasped this sufficiently and I’m challenging you now to open your minds, to stretch your imaginations. You know there’s a great deal of reality that does not become real to you until you dare to imagine it and dream it up from the heart. You’re not imagining something that’s not true. You’re dwelling upon something that just may be true and as you dare to dwell upon it and imagine it, then your own spirit sorts out for you what is true and you perceive it from inside.
But we need to do more than this because our Lord Jesus Christ is a tremendously active person. He is the very son of God, and God the Father is the creator and therefore he is not contented unless we create, unless we work, unless we do. And so we have his commandments what we are to do. He told us what we are to be, yes. We are to be chaste and pure and honest and good. Why? So that we can do what he told us to do. So that we can do his works.
Christian ethics, that’s not the whole of Christianity. Jesus didn’t say the Ten Commandments is Christianity. He said the Ten Commandments is the law and the prophets, and so it is. And the Ten Commandments is a very important part of Christianity, but it is not the whole, nor even the most important part. We try to follow the Ten Commandments because that is training for the life of the spirit. And what is the life of the spirit? The life of the spirit is going to all the world and preach the gospel to every creature and heal the sick and say to them, “The Kingdom of God has come nigh unto you.” In other words, tell people the good news, that Jesus Christ is here on earth and that we can come to him and that he works. And if you’re going to tell them, you’ve got to be able to deliver the goods. If you’re going to tell them, then, you better follow it up and do something.
You know, in China, where I was born and brought up, the Chinese Christians would read the Bible and they would take for granted that what is said was true and they would take for granted that what Jesus once did, he could still do and they set out to do it. And only too often, not always, but I’m afraid, very often, us poor dear missionary families, not knowing any better in those days, would try to discourage them, you know. “Oh, Jesus doesn’t do that today.” But he does.
There was an old Chinese preacher who came back one time from a country trip and he said to my father, “In the village of [May Lee 00:16:27] I baptized three babies and I received two people into the church and I cast a demon out of old Mrs. Tsu.” My father said, “You did what?” “Oh,” he said, combing long gray beard with a fine comb, you know. “I cast a demon out of of old Mrs. Tsu.” My father said, “How did you do that?” Whereupon the old gentleman opened his eyes and looked at him in some surprise. He said, “Why, like Jesus did. Is there any other way? And it worked.”
And I’m glad to say my father had the sense not to discourage him but to keep still and the next time the old gentleman went on a country trip, he went with him to see what went on. And sure enough, it did work, and a person who was, apparently, completely manic, when the old gentleman shook a finger at this woman babbling and yelling on the ground and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her, something happened. She got up off the ground, pulled down her clothes, pushed back her hair and was perfectly normal. Explain it any way you want to. Nobody needed to explain it to old Mr. Tsu. Jesus did that. Jesus said do it. Jesus did it through Mr. Tsu.
Now some of you have tried, I know. It does not always work. It does not always work. We have to be willing to accept some failures. Why? Because God is not able? No, I don’t think that’s the reason. Because God is not willing? No, I don’t think that’s the reason. And I will say, for your comfort, I do not think the reason always is just because we don’t have enough faith either. I don’t think we should always say, “Well, I just can’t do it and I’m no good.” No, I think sometimes the reason is beyond our understanding. Sometimes the reason is in the circumstances of this world and it’s something beyond our control and we just have to humble ourselves and accept it and try again, perhaps trying something a little bit smaller, a little bit nearer our size.
But there are two reasons that I do want to talk about a bit. One reason, I think, is that our tendency always seems to be, not always, no, but with a great many people, our tendency seems to be to sort of narrow our circle. I wonder if you’ve ever known any prayer groups that start out fine and full of life and after a few years they sort of get stale. Why? I wonder if you know some people who start out with great zeal and after a while it dims down. Why? Now there are various reasons but there’s one reason I think is more common than any other and you may not have thought of it and that is a matter of our choice. For whom are we praying? To whom are we speaking? Now we are such little people, Lord forgive us, that if we don’t watch watch it, our human tendency is to pray for ourselves and our family and our friends and our church members.
Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but the trouble is that there may be others. Strangers outside of us, lost sheep that Jesus is grieving over and he’s hoping that one of us will go and find. And so it may be that he’s disappointed in us. It may be that he’s saying to us, “Oh, my child, I did so want you to speak to this one or pray for that one and you didn’t see it.” We tend to narrow ourselves without knowing that we are doing it. So now the first thing I want to suggest to you is to purposely consciously broaden that circle.
Now, for instance, one time, a friend a mine who went to the Philadelphia Orchestra quite often came home and told me that she sat beside a Jewish lady and that the Jewish lady was very, very unhappy that day and told her that her husband was extremely ill. It was either, I guess tuberculosis, or something in the chest, anyway. I remember that much. And the doctors did not seem to know what to do for him. And so, my friend, a Christian and Episcopalian Christian lady, dared to speak to this Jewish lady about prayer. Building on what she had, not trying to convert her to anything, just offering to pray for her. And she said, “I will pray for your husband, Moses.” That was his name, Moses Lieberman.
She said, “I will pray for Moses and I have a friend at home,” that was me, “and I will get her to join with me and I will call you on the phone and we will make a definite date for when we will pray.” And so she arranged it with me and we chose 9:00 that evening. And so she instructed this Jewish lady at 9:00 that evening to go and sit by her husband’s bed and to place both her hands on her husband and then just to open her mind and await the glory of God.
Now perhaps you’re’ thinking, “Oh, that’s unorthodox.” Well, never mind. God is not half as orthodox as you are and he gets more done. Try it. Try it. So we prayed at that time for Moses. Moses made an almost instantaneous recovery. The next day this lady, whom I never met, called up my friend and she said that while she sat beside the bed with her two hands on him. She said there was a light all around the bed. She said, “What could that be?” It was a sort of a blue light and it shone all around the bed. And she said, “I could feel a warm feeling. It was like heat that came through my hands.” And Moses got well and the next day he was just perfect. She said, “What could that be?” And my friend said, “Why, that was the glory of God. That’s quite natural.”
Now perhaps you’re surprised that God would so pour out his light and his love upon a person who did not, at that time, even know that Jesus Christ was the son of God. Perhaps you are surprised. I’m not surprised. I’ve sort of gotten used to God’s ways. Started to say strange ways. Sometimes it seems as if God is just waiting for any little door of Christian compassion to open so that he can rush through to one of these, his brethren and how are they ever going to get to know that Jesus Christ is the son of God? If we who call ourselves Christians do not show them the love of Christ how are they ever going to get to know it?
So anyway, I challenge you now. Within the next week, find one of these little ones. Jesus said, “You know who so gives but a cup of cold water to one of these, my brethren.” Who were his brethren? The Jews, naturally. What was the first church quarrel that split Christendom wide open? It was the quarrel between those Jews who were Christians, together with certain baptized Gentiles, and the elders of the Jewish people. There’s your first church quarrel. How can the body of Christ ever be complete on this earth until that quarrel is healed? How can you heal it?
Here’s one way. The simplest way, the easiest way. If within the next week, everyone of you were to pray for one Jewish friend, either telling them about it, like this, or perhaps not telling them about it. Try it. I suggested this one time to my Bible class and I said, “Now girls and boys, don’t come.” They were grown people, but I get a little silly sometimes, you know. And so I said, “Now don’t come to Sunday School next Sunday unless you do this because I don’t want anybody coming to the Bible class who does not do their assignment. And this is your assignment. Between now and next Sunday, pray for one Jewish person with the love of Christ.” And they told me just wonderful stories, very often of not saying a word but just praying for them in a store, on the street. Just praying in silence and watching the light come out on the face and the joy come out on the face.
Oh, you just try it and see. Widen your circle, do you see? Widen your circle. Now I could tell you many, many stories along this line. I’ll tell you just one about my dear friend, Elizabeth, a Negro woman, one of the loveliest people I ever knew, who still is one of my very best friends. When I go through the city of Morristown, I always go to see Elizabeth whether I go to see anyone else or not. Stop around at her little house and hope to find her. Well, she worked for me for a while, but she had gone on to a better job at the Friends School. But then she sent word, or her family sent word, that she was dying of cancer and they wanted me to go and pray for her. I was a little put out that they waited until she was on her deathbed before telling me. But anyhow, I went and the family were all standing around these very dark and very gentle faces covered with great sadness because she was a lovely woman and she lay upon the bed and apparently was soon to pass away. And so I prayed for her with the laying on of hands.
Oh, I think it was a week or less than a week before she was completely perfectly well and she still is and that was about 20 years ago, 20 or 25 years ago. And she still is. Now I’ll tell you the truth, I’ve prayed for many and many of my own friends who have not made a recovery of this very serious disease. It really does seem as though when we go outside of our own circle for some of our most prayerful prayers and some of our best friends that then the glory of God rushes forth and the love of Christ rushes forth in a greater way. Try it.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t have a Negro friend.” Well, make one. That’s easy. I know a man who owns a dried beef business and he has these Negro men who drive his trucks. Now my friend who owns this business is a very shy person and extremely conservative and he does not speak to these men about prayer but he prays for them and they know it. And they’ll call him up of an evening and say, “Mr. Clark, my wife’s sick. Will you pray for her?” Don’t sit there looking at me so... Yeah, you look very perfectly blank, most of you. As though to say, “Well, I can’t do it.” Well, why can’t you do it? I mean, what’s so strange about it? I see nothing strange about it. Wherever I go, North, South, East, West. Particularly in the South, of course, but also anywhere else that I go, I always pray for these, my dark brothers and sisters. And I find them easier to pray for than others. Try it. Oh. If you don’t try, if you keep your circle so narrow.
You see, God cannot stand such a narrow circle. Because he just is not narrow and he will not be confined in such a narrow circle of you and your family and your friends because he gets bored with that. I have found out that one thing that the Almighty does not like is boredom. And another thing he apparently does not like is standardization. That’s a manmade idea. God loves for people to be different. He loves for all of us to have different friends and we don’t try to make them all alike. We adore their differences. We enjoy their differences. We honor their differences. So try it and you’ll find your life widening out in a way that will almost surprise you.
How shall you try it? How shall you pray this prayer of faith? I’m not going to start at the beginning and go all over again, as I said, because we’ll just, instead of that, we will say a bit of prayer of faith at the end. But one thing I will remind you of because we’re always forgetting, and that is, as you pray the prayer of faith... Now, I hope you have decided on someone and I hope on the basis of my remarks that you have not automatically limited your decision to your friends and family. I hope that you have at least opened your mind and asked God to tell you for whom he would like you to pray tonight.
Now it may be someone in your family and friends, but if you will really listen, it may not be. There may be someone else who, right now, desperately needs your prayer. It may be somebody who, right now, is lingering between life and death. It may be someone right now whose soul, whose spirit is hungering and thirsting and starving for lack of a little bit of this life. So I hope that you are listening. Well then, when you do get it, when you catch who it is or what it is that God wants you to pray for tonight, one thing I do remind you. And that is bring forth, expand your creative imagination. Make in your mind a picture, several pictures.
You might, first of all, make in your mind a picture or at least try to grasp this tremendous reality that this life of Jesus, our Lord, who really and truly heals, who is the expression upon this planet of the ever-living creator. That this life of our Lord is a real energy.
One time I was trying to explain to a group of scientists how it feels when you feel this life flowing through us. Now if you haven’t felt it and if you keep on praying in the way I shall suggest tonight, you will feel it one of these days, probably. Many of you have felt it and sometimes you don’t know what it is. It doesn’t matter too much whether you feel it except that it’s rather exciting at first because then you just know it’s real, you see? And I was trying to explain to these men what it feels like. Now these men were a group of doctors and psychiatrists in a hospital, who were banded together as a research team doing research into the more subtle areas of healing.
It was entirely a scientific group, not a religious group at all. However, they had read one of my books so they asked me to come and talk to them. And so I said when you feel this power passing through you... Now I might add to you, dear friends, that sometimes when you pray for yourself you can really feel the power coming into you but it’s much, much easier to feel the power when it’s passing through you to somebody else because, you see, God’s life is a flow. It’s a flow of energy. It is not a stagnant pool or even a fresh pool, but it is a rushing torrent. So if you give it not only an entry into you but also an outlet through you to somebody else, you’re much more likely to feel it. And if you dare to do so, offering God even your body as the channel and to do so with the laying on of hands, then you’re much more likely to feel it.
Now, concerning this also, you do not need to be amazed or... I hope none of you will say, as some people have said to me. They say, “Oh, but I couldn’t possibly do that.” I say, “Well, why? You’ve got hands. You can put them where you please. There’s no reason under the sun why you can’t do it.” Sometimes you do not feel that you can explain it, but that’s all right you don’t have to say, “This is now the sacrament of the laying on of hands.” Very often you could be in the presence of one of your children or grandchildren or a friend and it’s perfectly simple and natural to lay a hand upon them, to hold the hand or something without saying a word. It’s better if you can say it, but if you feel you cannot say it and they would be shocked, why, you can still do it. There’s nothing to stop you doing it. And if you think, “Well I’m not good enough and wise enough.”
Let me tell you a story about a little girl whom I heard from this morning. I had a lovely letter from her written on an electric typewriter and actually written much better than I can type. Long words, perfectly spelled and so on and so forth. Now this child, when she was born, was a hopeless mongoloid. The doctor said to her mother, “Don’t set your heart on this child. You’ll never even take her out of the hospital. She has no mind at all. She’s physically very deformed and very weak. It’s much better if she were just to die pretty soon.” But the mother did not accept that and with day by day prayer, this was not a thing where I prayed for her and it happened. Oh no, it takes much more than that. But day by day prayer with the laying on of hands at night when the child was asleep, you know. She would go and stay by the bed and lay her hands on her and she would just ask the Lord Jesus to come into that baby and to finish building whatever it was that nature had not finished building when it was in the womb of the mother, to finish it. And then she would imagine the child perfect and well.
And so with that, Olive has grown up. She’s 19 now. She still looks mongoloid, I will have to confess. I have seen some children who did not even have the look but she does, but however, she can write and play the piano and cook and iron and sew and talk as well as anybody. You wouldn’t think she was mongoloid at all. But anyway, one time, she was 10 years old. She went upstairs and her mother had a bad headache and was suffering from eye strain and was threatened with having to get glasses at that time and Olive said to the mother, “Mom, I’ve come to pray for you like Agnes does.” That’s me. So she said, “Lie down on the bed now and I’m going to put my hands on your eyes and ask Jesus to take away your headache and make you well.” So the mother lay down on the bed. The little 10-year-old, born a hopeless mongoloid, laid her hands on her eyes like this and very simply asked Jesus to come in and take away the headache and make her eyes well. Then she got up and said, “Now you’ll be all right, Mom. Now I’ll go downstairs and finish my arithmetic.” And the mother was all right.
So if a little mongoloid, 10 years old, can do this kind of prayer, there’s no good reason that I would know why you can’t. And if you feel you’re not worthy, well, get worthy. It may be rather a project, but the Bible tells you how and I don’t have to tell you. Read Matthew 5:6-7. Note that our Lord said at the end, he said, “A wise man would live this way.” It’s smart to be that way because that’s the way you have power.
So anyway, to get back where I was. I wandered off on purpose. I was trying to explain to these scientists how it feels when the power of God comes through you and I said, “Sometimes it feels hot, like a burning fire inside or like a fire in your hands if you lay them on someone else, or sometimes it feels cool instead, occasionally. Not too often.” And I said, “Most often it feels like a sort of a vibration.” I said, “I don’t like to use that word. It always feel so silly, but I don’t know what else to call it. And one of the doctors said, “Call it a radiation because that is the correct term. That is what it is.”
I said, “Oh, you know that there is some such power?” They said, “Yes, we do know it. That’s why we sent for you.” They said, “From our scientific experiments, we have found out that amid the values of radiation that surround this globe there is a radiation of an energy very much like to the energy of light, and apparently, with tremendous healing power.” But they said, “The trouble is, we don’t know how to connect with it.” So now you see, sometimes people wonder why I say things like this. Why isn’t it enough just to say Jesus heals? Well for some people it is, but I confess that for me, it’s not enough because I’m not naturally born with a great faith. In fact, by nature, I’m a very cynical person and, by nature, I’m rather a disbelieving person. I had to teach myself to think with faith and so, therefore, when these things come to me, I find it extremely valuable to imagine them.
I’m not imagining something that is false. I’m making in my mind a mental picture of something that is true. A kind of light, an energy that is a kind of light pervading the very air that we breathe and able to come into us and through us to somebody else with creative and recreative power. Where did it begin? Where did it come from? It is Jesus, our Lord, who brought it into this earth and through is life and love the surface is permeated with it, but this light began before that and when did it begin? Oh, you know, read the first chapter of Genesis and see. And the earth was without form, a void and darkness was on the face of the deep and after that and after that let this description of creation tell us exactly, with the most modern theory, the nuclear theory of evolution. Tell us exactly of astronomy, I mean.
I said all this once, much more than this, one time, when I was in Edinburgh about two years ago. And after there was a young man coming up said to me, “Well, you know, I am an astronomer.” And I said, “Oh.” He said, “It’s true. It’s quite true what you said.” According then, to this nuclear theory in astronomy, the first thing that was created was light. There wasn’t anything. There was only darkness upon the face of the deep. There was only interstellar space and it was black and blackness and there was nothing. And then astronomy doesn’t say what happened but the Bible says what happened. But they both say the same thing that the first thing created was light. God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light and that was not the light of the sun, moon and stars because the sun, moon and stars had not, as yet, been created. So you see, this original light is the creativity of God himself. It is the source of all light. It is the source of all life and it exists and it is real.
How then do you connect with it? You connect with it by faith in Jesus Christ. “Come unto me,” he said. “All ye that labor and are heavy-laden.” Now in the Bible we read of those who labored and were heavy-laden, crawling to him with their diseases and their troubles and their weariness and coming to him in person, to this man, Jesus of Nazareth, in whom, for that time being, the whole glory of God was condensed. But we can no longer come to him in a body of flesh. Nevertheless, by faith, we can come to him. His ever-living being pervading this whole earth. His living spiritual presence that we are still allowed to think of in a body. One day we will see that body with our eyes. Tell you some more about that one of these days. But whether we do or whether we do not see that body with our eyes, he is real. And so we come to him by faith. By faith in him and also by faith in what he can do through his eternal word and power.
And so I suggest to you now that first you imagine the reality of Jesus himself and let your mind dwell a little bit upon these things I’ve talked about and think about it. It would be nice if you could read some of the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I can’t pronounce it very well. The Divine Milieu, The Phenomenon of Man, they’re pretty hard to read. The Divine Milieu is easier. This man is a tremendous scientist and prehistorian. He also happens to be a Jesuit priest. And this that I had vaguely thought of before, the reality of Jesus pervading all of nature as well as people. I didn’t know if anybody else ever thought of that and I thought maybe I was just being silly and here this great scientist comes out with it. So in one way or another, whether you read the books of whether you just think about it and ask the Lord himself to show it to you. Dwell upon it. Imagine it.
And then, choose now the person for whom you want to pray, the object for which you would like to pray tonight and bring out this imagination of yours and make in your mind a picture just as clear and definite and concise as you possibly can of this person. It may be yourself. It may be somebody else. Of this person restored to that life and peace and joy and wholeness that you dare to believe is God’s will. Ask him if it’s his will. I said open your mind to his guidance. Ask him then. Ask him right now. Hold up in your mind how this person for whom you would like to pray and in your mind say, “God, is this the one? Do you want me to pray for this person to be well?” And listen. How can you hear the answer? Not with your ears. With most of us, it’s not with the ears.
Some people hear it with a little voice inside that says yes or no. I don’t trust the little voice, really, because I’ve such an imagination and also, I find that I’m so willful I can dream up any voice I want to so I listen to the little voice but I don’t just trust that. I ask him to show me by my desires. I say inside of myself, I say, “Oh Lord, incline my heart to do thy will. That is, make me want to do what you want me to do. Put into my heart the desire, the compassion that you want to express through me toward such a person.” You know, that was the way that Jesus decided who to pray for. When people came to him in faith, he always prayed for them. He never turned them away. But when they did not come to him and he went forth to seek them, then we are told many a time that he was moved by compassion. That is how God moves us. If we give our hearts to him and give our desires to him, then he is able to come into us and move us with compassion.
So that’s how we can get the answers. We may make mistakes sometimes but that’s the best way I think of getting the answer. Listen. And so then this person whom you want to pray for and you believe God wants you to pray for, you see. Now I ask you to use your creative imagination and make in your mind a picture of this one restored to wholeness and peace and life and whatever else it is.
If it’s a marriage about to break up, imagine the two of them coming together. Falling in love with each other again. I made the suggestion one time in Louisville, I think it was. The young minister said to me the next day, “Oh,” he said. “I am a man of little faith.” I said, “What’s the matter?”
He said, “When you told us to pray like that. I chose a young couple in my church that were about to get a divorce. Nice young couple and there was no real reason they should have to get a divorce and so I imagined Jesus Christ coming into the husband and then into the wife and I imagined them looking at each other and thinking, ‘Oh, isn’t he nice?’ ‘Isn’t she attractive?’ ‘Why did I feel this way?’ And so forth and so on and I imagined the marriage being saved. Well,” he said, “I did this for just about a half an hour and then on the way home I said to myself, ‘Now don’t be silly. That’s foolish.’ Tomorrow morning, you’ve got to go to court and testify.” The divorce is already being carried on, you see. So he said, “In the morning, I went into court. It had been called off.” He said, “In the one half an hour that I managed to give myself to God so that God could do his will through me, the job was done.” The one half an hour in which he had imagined.
Now why is this? We are apt to think of the imagination, you know, as just a sort of toy, a plaything. We don’t realize the imagination is the greatest tool that we have. It’s the most powerful creative energy that we human beings possess, is the imagination. The thing that we imagine in our hearts tends to become true. Jesus said that murderers and adulterers do not come straight out from the action from the conscious mind, that they’ve come first from the imagination of the heart. See, Paul told us that we were to think about those things that were good and lovely and honest and of good report. Why? Because, then, out of the imagination of the heart, those things come in our lives.
In sixth chapter Genesis, you have a delightful account of the time when God got pretty fed up with man that he’d made and he thought to himself, “Oh, that was a bad idea. Why did I do that?” We’re told it repented him that he had made man. And remember the reason? Look in Genesis 6. “Because,” said the Bible. “The imagination of his heart.” That is the subconscious mind, was only evil from his youth.
The greatest power that we have, either to create or to destroy. If we dream about bad things all the time, bad things are going to happen. If we imagine illness and trouble all the time, illness and trouble’s going to come to us. If we imagine great things and glorious things, then great things and glorious things can be created by us and evolve through us. Every creator first dreams up the thing he creates. Ever painter, every sculptor, every composer, every great writer first dreams it up from the imagination of their heart. If he doesn’t, it’s no good, without a vision the people perish.
And so you see, get out this rather rusty thing. Either it’s rather rusty or sometimes it’s very misused. All right? Get it out and train it and by an act of will create in your mind a picture of that thing that you desire and that you believe to be God’s will and then we will pray for it all together and as I lead you in a prayer for this, you will notice that I do not end this prayer of faith by saying, “If it be God’s will.” Because if it’s not God’s will, I’m not going to pray for it in the first place. God’s will is so important that I put it first, not last. That’s why I suggest to you that before you pray this prayer at all, you ask him what he wants you to pray for, who he wants you to pray for and you listen, because the purpose of all prayer is to do God’s will.
Prayer is not a matter of twisting God’s arm and making him do our will. Prayer is the matter of living near enough to God or listening him clearly enough so that we can find out what is his will and what he wants us to do, in prayer, and then letting him come in and do his will through us. So therefore, if you’ve already listened, you do not need to conclude your prayer of faith by saying “if”, and I strongly suggest that you don’t do it because if is an expression of doubt. This is very old to most of you, but I do remind you again.
Now some of you look a little worried about that. It’s only because you were brought up always to say, “If it be thy will.” So now, let me just give you different words because even if you were brought up that way, if you search the scriptures you’ll see that no prayer of faith includes those words in the scriptures. Read the Bible and see. Jesus didn’t say, “Men arise, if it be God’s will.” He didn’t say, “Take up thy bed and walk if it be God’s will.” If he hadn’t known it was God’s will, he wouldn’t have prayed it in the first place. He did only what he saw the Father do, so he said. Therefore, before he prayed he could see in his mind’s eye, he could see the power of God doing this. His imagination had already seen it. Don’t you see? And so he knew it was God’s will. So I don’t care how you were brought up, it’s not scriptural. And furthermore, it’s not practical, because it weakens the prayer. But in case you want to say something about God’s will in conclusion, that’s just fine. But I would suggest different words. If you listen to the prayer now, as I lead you in a prayer, you take note that I do end the prayer by expressing my desire for God’s will to be done but I imagine to do it without saying the word if.
So now, just seated where we are, let’s bow our heads for a moment of prayer. Oh, Lord Jesus, we give thanks for thy glory that fills earth and heaven. We give thanks, oh, Lord Jesus, that the Lord’s arm is not shortened that it shall not save. We give thanks that any works that were done by thee in the body of flesh in Nazareth and in Bethlehem and in Jerusalem can be done today even if there are some we have not yet seen, they yet can be done because thy word, oh Lord, standeth forever and thy word is the works that I do, shall ye do also.
So now, oh, Lord, in thy mercy, look upon us. Stretch our imaginations. Open our hearts, deepen our faith, extend our vision. As we lift up before thee, now, this desire of our hearts, each one of us in a moment of silence will lift up now this desire and each one of us will make in the imagination, the picture, clear and distinct of that which we desire, believing it to be thy will.
And as we now see this person well and strong and touched with a new love and a new life and reached by a new friendliness, we rejoice and give thanks and by faith we accept this. We do not say it is completed, but we do say by faith that we believe that thy power is now reaching out to touch this person and it’s beginning in this person, this good work that we see in our minds. And we will continue, by faith, to pray day by day that we may be used, ourselves, as channels for this, thy light and love and may give thanks now believing that thy spirit is working in this person. In the spirit and the mind and the body, in all good ways according to thy perfect will. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, amen.