PRAYER PART 111
The world must grow to the spiritual understanding of prayer. If good enough to profit by Jesus’ cup of earthly sorrows, God will sustain us under these sorrows. Until we are thus divinely qualified and are willing to drink his cup, millions of vain repetitions will never pour into prayer the unction of Spirit in demonstration of power and “with signs following.” Christian Science reveals a necessity for overcoming the world, the flesh, and evil, and thus destroying all error.
Seeking is not sufficient. It is striving that enables us to enter. Spiritual attainments open the door to a higher understanding of the divine Life.
Perfunctory prayers One of the forms of worship in Thibet is to carry a praying-machine through the streets, and stop at the doors to earn a penny by grinding out a prayer. But the advance guard of progress has paid for the privilege of prayer the price of persecution.
Asking amiss Experience teaches us that we do not always receive the blessings we ask for in prayer. There is some misapprehension of the source and means of all goodness and blessedness, or we should certainly receive that for which we ask. The Scriptures say: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive. In this case infinite Love will not grant the request. Do you ask wisdom to be merciful and not to punish sin? Then “ye ask amiss.” 11Without punishment, sin would multiply. Jesus’ prayer, “Forgive us our debts,” specified also the terms of forgiveness. When forgiving the adulterous woman he said, “Go, and sin no more.”
Remission of penalty A magistrate sometimes remits the penalty, but this may be no moral benefit to the criminal, and at best, it only saves the criminal from one form of punishment. The moral law, which has the right to acquit or condemn, always demands restitution before mortals can “go up higher.” Broken law brings penalty in order to compel this progress.
Truth annihilates error Mere legal pardon (and there is no other, for divine Principle never pardons our sins or mistakes till they are corrected) leaves the offender free to repeat the offence, if indeed, he has not already suffered sufficiently from vice to make him turn from it with loathing. Truth bestows no pardon upon error, but wipes it out in the most effectual manner. Jesus suffered for our sins, not to annul the divine sentence for an individual’s sin, but because sin brings inevitable suffering.
Desire for holiness Petitions bring to mortals only the results of mortals’ own faith. We know that a desire for holiness is requisite in order to gain holiness; but if we desire holiness above all else, we shall sacrifice everything for it. We must be willing to do this, that we may walk securely in the only practical road to holiness. Prayer cannot change the unalterable Truth, nor can prayer alone give us an understanding of Truth; but prayer, coupled with a fervent habitual desire to know and do the will of God, will bring us into all Truth. Such a desire has little need of audible expression. It is best expressed in thought and in life.
Prayer for the sick “The prayer of faith shall save the sick,” says the Scripture. What is this healing prayer? A mere request that God will heal the sick has no power to gain more of the divine presence than is always at hand. The beneficial effect of such prayer for the sick is on the human mind, making it act more powerfully on the body through a blind faith in God. This, however, is one belief casting out another, — a belief in the unknown casting out a belief in sickness. It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth, — of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love.
Prayer to a corporeal God affects the sick like a drug, which has no efficacy of its own but borrows its power from human faith and belief. The drug does nothing, because it has no intelligence. It is a mortal belief, not divine Principle or Love, which causes a drug to be apparently either poisonous or sanative.
The common custom of praying for the recovery of the sick finds help in blind belief, whereas help should come from the enlightened understanding. Changes in belief may go on indefinitely, but they are the merchandise of human thought and not the outgrowth of divine Science.
Love impartial and universal Does Deity interpose in behalf of one worshipper, and not help another who offers the same measure of prayer? If the sick recover because they pray or are prayed for audibly, only petitioners (per se or by proxy) should get well. In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail them13selves of God as “a very present help in trouble.” Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.”
Public exaggerations In public prayer we often go beyond our convictions, beyond the honest standpoint of fervent desire. If we are not secretly yearning and openly striving for the accomplishment of all we ask, our prayers are “vain repetitions,” such as the heathen use. If our petitions are sincere, we labor for what we ask; and our Father, who seeth in secret, will reward us openly. Can the mere public expression of our desires increase them? Do we gain the omnipotent ear sooner by words than by thoughts? Even if prayer is sincere, God knows our need before we tell Him or our fellow-beings about it. If we cherish the desire honestly and silently and humbly, God will bless it, and we shall incur less risk of overwhelming our real wishes with a torrent of words.
Corporeal ignorance If we pray to God as a corporeal person, this will prevent us from relinquishing the human doubts and fears which attend such a belief, and so we cannot grasp the wonders wrought by infinite, incorporeal Love, to whom all things are possible. Because of human ignorance of the divine Principle, Love, the Father of all is represented as a corporeal creator; hence men recognize themselves as merely physical, and are ignorant of man as God’s image or reflection and of man’s eternal incorporeal existence. The world of error is ignorant of the world of Truth, — blind to the reality of man’s existence, — for the world of sensation is not cognizant of life in Soul, not in body.
Bodily presence If we are sensibly with the body and regard omnipotence as a corporeal, material person, whose ear we would gain, we are not “absent from the body” and “present with the Lord” in the demonstration of Spirit. We cannot “serve two masters.” To be “present with the Lord” is to have, not mere emotional ecstasy or faith, but the actual demonstration and understanding of Life as revealed in Christian Science. To be “with the Lord” is to be in obedience to the law of God, to be absolutely governed by divine Love, — by Spirit, not by matter.
Spiritualized consciousness Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well. Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth, and Love. Hence the hope of the promise Jesus bestows: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; . . . because I go unto my Father,” — [because the Ego is absent from the body, and present with Truth and Love.] The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of Soul, not of material sense.
Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man’s dominion over the whole earth. This understanding casts out error and heals the sick, and with it you can speak “as one having authority.”
“When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father 15 which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
Spiritual sanctuary So spoke Jesus. The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love. Closed to error, it is open to Truth, and vice versa. The Father in secret is unseen to the physical senses, but He knows all things and rewards according to motives, not according to speech. To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error.
Effectual invocation In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God’s allness. We must resolve to take up the cross, and go forth with honest hearts to work and watch for wisdom, Truth, and Love. We must “pray without ceasing.” Such prayer is answered, in so far as we put our desires into practice. The Master’s injunction is, that we pray in secret and let our lives attest our sincerity.
Trustworthy beneficence Christians rejoice in secret beauty and bounty, hidden from the world, but known to God. Self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers. Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence and they assuredly call down infinite blessings. Trustworthiness is the foundation of enlightened faith. Without a fitness for holiness, we cannot receive holiness.
Loftiest adoration A great sacrifice of material things must precede this advanced spiritual understanding. The highest prayer is not one of faith merely; it is demonstration. Such prayer heals sickness, and must destroy sin and death. It distinguishes between Truth that is sinless and the falsity of sinful sense.
The prayer of Jesus Christ Our Master taught his disciples one brief prayer, which we name after him the Lord’s Prayer. Our Master said, “After this manner therefore pray ye,” and then he gave that prayer which covers all human needs. There is indeed some doubt among Bible scholars, whether the last line is not an addition to the prayer by a later copyist; but this does not affect the meaning of the prayer itself.
In the phrase, “Deliver us from evil,” the original properly reads, “Deliver us from the evil one.” This reading strengthens our scientific apprehension of the petition, for Christian Science teaches us that “the evil one,” or one evil, is but another name for the first lie and all liars.
Only as we rise above all material sensuousness and sin, can we reach the heaven-born aspiration and spiritual consciousness, which is indicated in the Lord’s Prayer and which instantaneously heals the sick.
Here let me give what I understand to be the spiritual sense of the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father which art in heaven, Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,
Hallowed be Thy name. Adorable One.
Thy kingdom come. Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Enable us to know, — as in heaven, so on earth, — God is omnipotent, supreme.
Give us this day our daily bread; Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And Love is reflected in love;
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over all, and All.