The Way of Prayer 3/5
1960 Chicago Open Class
Joel S. Goldsmith
And so we know that prayer, when it is correctly understood, brings forth an answer from God. But we also know that prayer, as we understand it in the world today, with the exception of the few mystical teachings, those prayers are not bringing forth answers. Yes, we can also point to the 100,000 people who each year make the trek to Lourdes in Belgium, with prayers in their hearts and on their minds, and of whom we’re told only fifteen people of 100,000 receive their healing. What of those prayers then? They’re worthless, too.
Now, then, prayer isn’t worthless. It is only the prayer that is taught in the world these days and for the last 1700 years, except in the mystical activities of the world. And that is perhaps one reason that a work like ours can never be organized. There never can be memberships. There is no use asking anyone to become a member of us or to make contributions to us, because they won’t benefit by it. The only thing we have to offer is a teaching on the subject of prayer, and you can either accept it or reject it, and we could do nothing about it. No use joining us. No use contributing to us. That will not get you anything.
The only thing that will bring anything worthwhile to you is if you are willing to learn the nature of prayer and then abide in prayer. Praying without ceasing until you find for yourself that prayers are answered. And then, of course, you can belong to any church you like, or any movement you like, or none at all if you like, because you’re living your religious life within yourself. And still, we will have nothing to offer you, except what is being given to you through this work, or the writings, or the recordings, and that which is available to anyone who will want it.
Prayer only becomes effective when you do not pray for anything, and that is the basic law of prayer. Anyone in this world can receive answers to prayer, as long as they will release themselves from human desire for personal good or personal gain. In other words, it is trying to make a house of merchandise of God that interferes with prayer, asking for food for me, or food for you, or asking for clothing, or housing, in spite of the Master’s teaching that you shall not pray for what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, or wherewithal you shall be clothed; that you shall not take thought for things; that you shall not make a house of merchandise out of the temple of God. But, when you pray, pray only that the kingdom of God be revealed to you. Pray only that the will of God be revealed to you. Pray only that God’s grace reveal itself within you, and let that prayer result in whatever form of good is within the realm of spiritual Grace.
You will find, as Moses did, that if you pray the prayer of Emmanuel, that is, the recognition of God with us, that if you need a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, that that’s the way your prayer will be answered. You will not pray for a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, because you will not even know—Moses surely never knew—that such a thing could exist, as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. All he knew was Omnipresence, Emmanuel, God with us. And then, let that take form as it will, and it took the form.
Be assured that Moses had never heard of manna falling from the sky and had no way of knowing that it’s possible to pray for such things. His prayer could only have been the realization of Emmanuel. God is with us. God is with man. Where I am, God is. Where God is, I am. Who can flee from the presence of God? If I mount up to heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, thou art there. If I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art there. In other words, there is no way to escape God’s presence. But, the presence of God is never tangible in the experience of any individual, except those who consciously abide in the Word and let the Word abide in them. If you do not abide in the Word, Christ Jesus says, “And if you do not let this Word abide in you, you will be as a branch of a tree that is cut off and withereth.”
The 91st Psalm says that if you do not live, dwell in the secret place of the most High, all of these evils of the earth can come nigh your dwelling place. Only those who dwell, who live in this secret, sacred Word: Omnipresence; Emmanuel, God with us; where I am, God is; the place whereon thou standeth is holy ground. Dwelling in that, not going to holy mountains. Not going to the holy temple in Jerusalem. Not believing that God is low here and God is low there. Not believing that God is in a Hebrew synagogue, or a Christian church, or a Moslem mosque. But realizing that the kingdom of God is within you, whoever the “you” may be, and abiding in that.
Prayer is answered in the form necessary to your experience of the moment. And if it is food, or clothing, or housing that is needed, it appears. In the experience of our good friend Rickenbacker in the Pacific, when food was needed, it came to him, whether the fish had to jump up out of the ocean into his boat, because he didn’t have a line and hook; whether the birds had to fly down and roost on his head, because he didn’t have a gun; whether fresh water had to flow from a clear sky. What difference does that make, as long as Rickenbacker knew enough? And he was the only one in those boats who knew enough not to pray for food and rain. He was the only one who knew enough to sit there and realize—God with us. Where I am, God is. I cannot escape from the love of God. Neither height nor depth, neither life nor death, neither principalities nor powers can separate me from the love and the life of God. And therefore, even out in the Pacific, God had to BE.
And so it is, those who pray for safety and security are just laying up trouble for themselves. God has no safety and security to give. God has only Himself to give. And those who pray this prayer, which has come down to us from time immemorial, those who pray this prayer, “I seek not things. I seek not selfishness. I seek not for myself. I live only in the realization that where I am, God is. Emmanuel, God with us. Where I am, thou art.” “Son,” God says, “thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” Does that mean only at 42nd Street and Broadway or State and Madison? Course not! Wherever we may be, heaven or hell, or the valley of the shadow of death, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. You don’t have to buy this. This is something that is, as Isaiah said, free, without money, without price. Take it home and live it.
Yes, Jesus had a treasurer. And they accepted gifts. And out of this undoubtedly paid their travelling expenses, and their food, and their clothing. They weren’t selling truth. They were giving truth. And what came to them in the form of gratitude took care of their needs. It has been so all through the ages. Those who have engaged in a truly spiritual ministry had no need to sell it, because the truth itself is available and always has been available for mankind. And there always have been those willing to share of this world’s goods, so that the activity might be perpetuated. But don’t, please don’t, don’t believe that truth, or God, or good is dependent on money. I have students write me every once in a while. They would like to be in a class, but they can’t afford it. What do they think that truth is dependent on their money, or that they could be barred from God for lack of money? There is no one in a spiritual ministry thinking or working from such a standpoint. And so, please believe this. Whatever grace of God you attain is going to be not because of what money you have to spend, or what far places you can visit but to whatever degree you can learn to pray without desiring something for yourself or another, except the remembrance of God’s grace that where I am, God is, and all that the Father hath is mine. And abiding in that and letting that perform Its work.