"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain,
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Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in
his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come
to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you,
What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them,
and ye shall have them.
"Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him."
The prayer that reclaims the sinner and heals the sick, is an absolute
faith that all things are possible to God--a spiritual understanding of
Him--an unselfed love. Regardless of what another may say or think on
this subject, I speak from experience. This prayer, combined with self-
sacrifice and toil, is the means whereby God has enabled me to do what I
have done for the religion and health of mankind.
Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is prayer;
and no less can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may
be moulded and exalted before they take form in audible word, and in
What are the motives for prayer? Do we pray to make ourselves better, or
to benefit those that hear us; to enlighten the Infinite, or to be heard
of men? Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes forth
hungering after righteousness is blessed of our Father, and it does not
return unto us void.
God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already
done; nor can the Infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is
unchanging Wisdom and Love. We can do more for ourselves by humble
fervent petitions; but the All-loving does not grant them simply on the
ground of lip-service, for He already knows all.
Prayer cannot change the Science of Being, but it does bring us into
harmony with it. Goodness reaches the demonstration of Truth. A request
that another may work for us never does our work. The habit of pleading
with the divine Mind, as one pleads with a human being, perpetuates the
belief in God as humanly circumscribed--an error which impedes spiritual
God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is Intelligence. Can we
inform the infinite Mind, or tell Him anything He does not already
comprehend? Do we hope to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at
the open fount, which always pours forth more than we receive? The
unspoken prayer does bring us nearer the Source of all existence and
Asking God to be God is a "vain repetition." God is "the same yesterday,
and to-day, and forever"; and He who is immutably right will do right,
without being reminded of His province. The wisdom of man is not
sufficient to warrant him in advising God.
Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of
mathematics to work out the problem? The rule is already established,
and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine
Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done; and we
have only to avail ourselves of God's rule, in order to receive the
The divine Being must be reflected by man--else man is not the image and
likeness of the patient, tender, and true, the one "altogether lovely";
but to understand God is the work of eternity, and demands absolute
concentration of thought and energy.
How empty are our conceptions of Deity! We admit theoretically that God
is good, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinite, and then we try to give
information to this infinite Mind; and plead for unmerited pardon, and a
liberal outpouring of benefactions. Are we really grateful for the good
already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we
have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a
verbal expression of thanks Action expresses more gratitude than speech.
If we are ungrateful for Life, Truth, and Love, and yet return thanks to
God for all blessings, we are insincere; and incur the sharp censure our
Master pronounces on hypocrites. In such a case the only acceptable
prayer is to put the finger on the lips and remember our blessings.
While the heart is far from divine Truth and Love, we cannot conceal the
ingratitude of barren lives, for God knoweth all things.
What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace,
expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds. To keep the
commandments of our Master and follow his example, is our proper debt to
Him, and the only worthy evidence of our gratitude for all He has done.
Outward worship is not of itself sufficient to express loyal and
heartfelt gratitude, since He has said: "If ye love Me, keep My
The habitual struggle to be always good, is unceasing prayer. Its
motives are made manifest in the blessings they bring--which, if not
acknowledged in audible words, attest our worthiness to be made partakers
Simply asking that we may love God will never make us love Him; but the
longing to be better and holier--expressed in daily watchfulness, and in
striving to assimilate more of the divine character--this will mould and
fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness. We reach the Science of
Christianity through demonstration of the divine nature; but in this
wicked world goodness will "be evil spoken of," and patience must work
Audible prayer can never do the works of spiritual understanding, which
regenerates; but silent prayer, watchfulness, and devout obedience,
enable us to follow Jesus' example. Long prayers, ecclesiasticism, and
creeds, have clipped the divine pinions of Love, and clad religion in
human robes. They materialize worship, hinder the Spirit, and keep man
from demonstrating his power over error.
Sorrow for wrong-doing is but one step towards reform, and the very
easiest step. The next and great step required by Wisdom is the test of
our sincerity--namely, reformation. To this end we are placed under the
stress of circumstances. Temptation bids us repeat the offence, and woe
comes in return for what is done. So it will ever be, till we learn that
there is no discount in the law of justice, and that we must pay "the
uttermost farthing." The measure ye mete "shall be measured to you
again," and it will be full "and running over."
Saints and sinners get their full award, but not always in this world.
The followers of Christ drank His cup. Ingratitude and persecution
filled it to the brim; but God pours the riches of His love into the
understanding and affections, giving us strength according to our day.
Sinners flourish "like a green bay-tree"; but, looking farther, the
Psalmist could see their end--namely, the destruction of sin through
Prayer is sometimes used, as a confessional to cancel sin. This error
impedes true religion. Sin is forgiven, only as it is destroyed by
Christ-Truth and Life If prayer nourishes the belief that sin is
cancelled, and that man is made better by merely praying, it is an evil.
He grows worse who continues in sin because he thinks himself forgiven.
An apostle says that the Son of God (Christ) came to "destroy the works
of the devil." We should follow our divine Exemplar, and seek the
destruction of all evil works, error and disease included. We cannot
escape the penalty due for sin. The Scriptures say, that if we deny
Christ, "He also will deny us."
The divine Love corrects and governs man. Men may pardon, but this
divine Principle alone reforms the sinner. God is not separate from the
wisdom He bestows. The talents He gives we must improve. Calling on Him
to forgive our work, badly done or left undone, implies the vain
supposition that we have nothing to do but to ask pardon, and that
afterwards we shall be free to repeat the offence.
To cause suffering, as the result of sin, is the means of destroying sin.
Every supposed pleasure in sin will furnish more than its equivalent of
pain, until belief in material life and sin is destroyed. To reach
heaven, the harmony of Being, we must understand the divine Principle of
"God is Love." More than this we cannot ask; higher we cannot look;
farther we cannot go. To suppose that God forgives or punishes sin,
according as His mercy is sought or unsought, is to misunderstand Love
and make prayer the safety-valve for wrong-doing.
Jesus uncovered and rebuked sin before He cast it out. Of a sick woman
He said that Satan had bound her; and to Peter He said, "Thou art an
offense unto me." He came teaching and showing men how to destroy sin,
sickness, and death. He said of the fruitless tree, "It is hewn down."
It is believed by many that a certain magistrate, who lived in the time
of Jesus, left this record: "His rebuke is fearful." The strong language
of our Master confirms this description.
The only civil sentence which He had for error was, "Get thee behind Me,
Satan." Still stronger evidence that Jesus' reproof was pointed and
pungent is in His own words--showing the necessity for such forcible
utterance, when He cast out devils and healed the sick and sinful. The
relinquishment of error deprives material sense of its false claims.
Audible prayer is impressive; it gives momentary solemnity and elevation
to thought; but does it produce any lasting benefit? Looking deeply into
these things, we find that "a zeal . . . not according to knowledge,"
gives occasion for reaction unfavorable to spiritual growth, sober
resolve, and wholesome perception of God's requirements. The motives for
verbal prayer may embrace too much love of applause to induce or
encourage Christian sentiment.
Physical sensation, not Soul, produces material ecstasy, and emotions.
If spiritual sense always guided men at such times, there would grow out
of those ecstatic moments a higher experience and a better life, with
more devout self-abnegation, and purity. A self-satisfied ventilation of
fervent sentiments never makes a Christian. God is not influenced by
man. The "divine ear" is not an auditoria! nerve. It is the all-
hearing and all-knowing Mind, to whom each want of man is always known,
and by whom it will be supplied.
The danger from audible prayer is, that it may lead us into temptation.
By it we may become involuntary hypocrites, uttering desires which are
not real, and consoling ourselves in the midst of sin, with the
recollection that we have prayed over it--or mean to ask forgiveness at
some later day. Hypocrisy is fatal to religion.
A wordy prayer may afford a quiet sense of self-justification, though it
makes the sinner a hypocrite. We never need despair of an honest heart,
but there is little hope for those who only come spasmodically face to
face with their wickedness, and then seek to hide it. Their prayers are
indexes which do not correspond with their character. They hold secret
fellowship with sin; and such externals are spoken of by Jesus as "like
unto whited sepulchres . . . full of all uncleanness."
If a man, though apparently fervent and prayerful, is impure, and
therefore insincere, what must be the comment upon him? If he had
reached the loftiness of his prayer, there would be no occasion for such
comment. If we feel the aspiration, humility, gratitude, and love which
our words express--this God accepts; and it is wise not to try to deceive
our. selves or others, for "there is nothing covered that shall not be
revealed." Professions and audible prayers are like charity in one
respect--they "cover a multitude of sins." Praying for humility, with
whatever fervency of expression, does not always mean a desire for it.
If we turn away from the poor, we are not ready to receive the reward of
Him who blesses the poor. We confess to having a very wicked heart, and
ask that it may be laid bare before us; but do we not already know more
of this heart than we are willing to have our neighbor see?
We ought to examine ourselves, and learn what is the affection and
purpose of the heart; for this alone can show us what we honestly are.
If a friend informs us of a fault, do we listen to the rebuke patiently,
and credit what is said? Do we not rather give thanks that we are "not
as other men?" During many years the author has been most grateful for
merited rebuke. The sting lies in unmerited censure--in the falsehood
which does no one any good.
The test of all prayer lies in the answer to these questions: Do we love
our neighbor better because of this asking? Do we pursue the old
selfishness, satisfied with having prayed for something better, though we
give no evidence of the sincerity of our requests by living consistently
with our prayer? If selfishness has given place to kindness, we shall
regard our neighbor unselfishly, and bless them that curse us; but we
shall never meet this great duty by simply asking that it may be done.
There is a cross to be taken up, before we can enjoy the fruition of our
hope and faith.
Dost thou "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy mind?" This command includes much--even the
surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship. This
is the E1 Dorado of Christianity. It involves the Science of Life, and
recognizes only the divine control of Spirit, wherein Soul is our master,
and material sense and human will have no place.
Are you willing to leave all for Christ, for Truth, and so be counted
among sinners? No! Do you really desire to attain this point? No!
Then why make long prayers about it, and ask to be Christians, since you
care not to tread in the footsteps of our dear Master? If unwilling to
follow His example, wherefore pray with the lips that you may be
partakers of His nature? Consistent prayer is the desire to do right.
Prayer means that we desire to, and will, walk in the light so far as we
receive it, even though with bleeding footsteps, and waiting patiently on
the Lord, will leave our real desires to be rewarded by Him.
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 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 which enables us to enter.
Spiritual attainments open the door to a higher understanding of the
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; whereas civilization pays for clerical prayers, in lofty
edifices. Is the difference very great, after all?
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 what we ask for. The
Scriptures say: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye
may consume it upon your lusts." What we desire and ask for 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 punish sin? Then
"ye ask amiss." Without 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."
A magistrate sometimes remits the penalty, but this may be no moral
benefit to the criminal; and at best, it only saves him 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.
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 offense; 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
against an individual's sin, but to show that sin must bring inevitable
Petitions only bring to mortals the results of their own faith. We know
that a desire for holiness is requisite in order to gain it; 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 alone cannot change the unalterable
Truth, or give us an understanding of it; 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 life.