Teach Us to Pray, by Charles Fillmore, , at sacred-texts.com
PRAYER is a science susceptible of being reduced to rules that prove it to be based upon demonstrable laws. The intellectual school of scientists will not accept our claim of science for prayer, because we operate in a field that they have not investigated. However "there are more things in heaven and earth . . . than are dreamt of" in their philosophy.
We who are testing out the laws of prayer cannot say with assurance that we have discovered and applied all of them so clearly that we can teach them to the multitude. The laws of prayer require a spiritually developed mind to give them full expression; hence not all persons are at once competent to cover the whole range of mental and spiritual activity requisite to the unfailing demonstration of prayer. Jesus taught that whatever we ask in prayer, believing, we shall receive.
So right at the beginning of our inquiry into scientific prayer we find a very vital condition emphasized and demonstrated by Jesus in His most effective prayers, and that is faith. We must have faith, though it be merely of mustard-seed size, before we can approach the fulfillment of the law of prayer.
Faith is the most mysterious of the spiritual faculties
and has so far eluded the descriptive powers of man. Many attempts have been made to describe faith but with indifferent success. All spiritual metaphysicians agree that faith is an apprehension by man of a mind power that connects matter and spirit. Faith handles ideas with a facility similar to that with which we handle pumpkin seeds. We plant the little seeds in good soil and watch them grow in a few months into large pumpkins. This is a great a miracle as any that Jesus performed, the difference being that it takes time and an adjustment of material instead of spiritual conditions.
But the scientific operation of the law of manifestation is just as mysterious in the one case as in the other. However we find that we can improve the conditions conducive to growth in the natural world, and it is good logic to assume that we can improve on the ancient practices of prayer. Primitive man had a sense of separation from his God. He believed that through storm, lightning, thunder, and earthquake his God was taking vengeance on him for his misdeeds, and he prayed to be saved. Then the most common form of prayer was the prayer for favors and for vengeance on one's enemies. This form of prayer was popular among the Israelites, as evidenced by their literature:
Although we have progressed somewhat in our attitude toward God the great majority of Christians are still begging a faraway God for favors.
What we all need is a better understanding of the principles at the very foundation of Being, of the spiritual character of God, and especially of the omnipresence of the spiritual principles. Then we need to understand our relation to these spiritual principles and what we have to do to make them operative in our mind and affairs.
We must know first that prayer is cumulative; that the more we pray the more we accumulate of the powerful spiritual energy which transforms invisible ideas into visible things. Paul said, "Pray without ceasing." Do not supplicate and beg God to give you what you need, but realize, affirm, and absolutely know that your supreme mind is functioning right now in God-Mind itself and that your thought substance and the spiritual substance of the Most High are amalgamated and blended into one perfect whole that is now being made manifest in the very thing you are asking for.
This is the modern technique of prayer, and it is being demonstrated by quite a few devout souls in this modern mechanical world. It is not emotional, nor do its devotees expect miracles; on the contrary, they apply the law of righteous thinking to a problem that has always been treated as outside the realm of exact science.
Every science under the sun has progressed and developed out of its early state of crudeness except
the science of the true character of God and of our relation to Him. Now the time has come for us to improve our methods of worship and reduce them to scientific mind laws. When we fully realize that God is a great mind in which "we live, and move, and have our being," we shall begin to use our minds in consonance with the Mind omnipresent. Then a supreme harmony will be ours, and prayer will become a divine soliloquy. As the entrancing music of the modern world has been developed from the primitive shepherd's playing his flute to his mate and then falling in love with his own music, so we shall unfold innate abilities of communion with God and finally discover the divine harmony.
With this understanding then of the true character of prayer, let us give ourselves to prayer.
In its spiritual character our mind blends with Divine Mind as the mist blends with the cloud. Both are composed of the same elements and they unite without friction if left to their natural affinity. But give "the mist" the power and ability of separation and we have conditions that involve divisions beyond enumeration. Man came out of God, is of the same mind elements, and exists within the mind of God always. Yet by thinking that he is separate from omnipresent Spirit he has set up a mental state of apartness from his source and he dwells in ignorance of that which is nearer to him than hands and feet. A few moments of thought daily directed toward God in acknowledgment of His presence will convince anyone that there is an intelligence
always with us that responds to our thought when we direct our attention to it. Sometimes we automatically make this high contact when our mind is exalted by transcendent sights or sounds. The eminent astronomer Kepler had this experience when, viewing the expanse and majesty of the universe of stars, he inspirationally exclaimed, "O God, I am thinking Thy thoughts after Thee."
Much is heard about giving ourselves to service to the world, but how important is the self that we are offering? If we have found our real self the offer will be worth while, but if we are offering personality alone we shall never set the world afire.
Paul was a great example of an indefatigable minister. We can hardly conceive the hardships he endured. He enumerates a few of them in II Corinthians 11:24-28: "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches."
Paul was a tentmaker. He went from house to house preaching the gospel. At Troas Paul preached
in a third-story room for several hours. About midnight a young man named Eutychus was overcome by sleep and fell from a window to the ground and was taken up dead. Paul went down and resurrected him, then went back to his preaching and kept it up until daybreak. A sermon twelve hours long would appall some ministers and all congregations, but not Paul.
To Timothy Paul recommends, "Exercise thyself unto godliness." The word "exercise" is derived from a Greek word having the root meaning of "gymnastics." That is, train your mind to think about God as a force that can be incorporated into your mind as you incorporate strength into your body. If your mind is weak and flabby, practice thinking about God as strong and stable. This will lift your mind out of its depression and connect you with a never-failing source of stability and confidence. Thus in order of their importance and necessity take all the attributes of God, such as life, love, power, wisdom, and incorporate them into the muscles of your mind by exercise.
We are very apt to forget that the mind of man develops like his muscles, by exercise. The minister who thinks his education is complete when he leaves the theological seminary never becomes a great
teacher of men. So the Christian who thinks he is saved when he has been "converted" will find that his salvation has just begun. Conversion and "change of heart" are real experiences, as anyone who has passed through them will testify, but they are merely introductory to the new life in Christ. When a person arrives at a certain exalted consciousness through the exercise of his mind in thinking about God and His laws, he is lifted above the thoughts of the world into a heavenly realm. This is the beginning of his entry into the kingdom of the heavens, which was the text of many of Jesus' discourses. When a man attains this high place in consciousness he is baptized by the Spirit; that is, his mind and even his body are suffused with spiritual essences, and he begins the process of becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus. Skeptics and the inexperienced view the changes in one's life produced by conversion as merely an emotional upheaval that will eventually pass away and leave the subject as he was before. No one is ever left exactly as he was before the experience. An effect has been produced on the soul structure that will never be wholly obliterated, but it may remain merely a temporary impression unless it is developed by exercise. This development cannot be accomplished by bodily exercise either. As Paul wisely says, "bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things."