1955 Holland Class
Joel S. Goldsmith
8802A – Two Parts to Prayer or Treatment
The questions this evening are exactly in line with the subject of this evening because if you have given serious thought to our lesson last night, it must have raised the question in your mind about: What is prayer, or how do you pray? I know that in the light of all that was given to us last night there was almost no room for prayer as we have known prayer in the past. And so, our thought must immediately go to the subject of prayer, and the reason is this: God is a spirit or really, God is the Spirit, the one and only Spirit, the All Spirit, and so any approach to God must be in a spiritual way and that way is prayer—p-r-a-y-e-r—prayer.
But the word prayer has many different meanings. If you look up the word in a very large, unabridged dictionary, like Webster’s, you will find that prayer covers such a wide ground that you may almost say that in parts of it, it contradicts itself. The reason is that it gives one version of prayer as it is known in some churches, and other versions of prayer as it is in other churches, and then versions of prayer as it is among mystics or those who have no church connections or who ignore church teachings on the subject of prayer.
So it is that prayer is the way to God. Prayer is the point of contact with God, but we must find a way to prayer that will more nearly conform to the idea of a God that is spirit. You will remember the master saying that no longer shall you worship in a holy mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem but in spirit and in truth. Now, what did He mean by that you shall not worship in Jerusalem? Why did he say Jerusalem? Well, Jerusalem was the headquarters of the mother church. Jerusalem was the headquarters of the big, big temple of the Hebrews, and Jewish custom, more than custom, Jewish law said that you had to go to Jerusalem once a year and worship in that temple, bring your tithes there, give your offerings there.
That is why we read of Mary and Joseph being on the way from Nazareth to Jerusalem when Jesus is born. They were on the way there for their annual visit, which was a compulsory thing among the Hebrews unless you were so sick, and here was a woman about to deliver a child and she wasn’t even considered too sick to be excused. She had to ride on the back of a donkey about ready to deliver a child, but the law was so strict she had to go to Jerusalem to pay that annual pilgrimage, and yet Jesus says no more shall you go to Jerusalem.
Why? Because going to Jerusalem is a material journey in time and space, and God is a spirit, so God has no interest in what the time is or what the place is. God’s interest is in spirit and in truth, so that if it is true that the place whereon thou standest is holy ground, then it is the place whereon thou standest that you must pray. Wherever you are, whenever you are, it makes no difference whether you are in Jerusalem or on a donkey on the way to Jerusalem or if you never get to Jerusalem or to Rome or to Boston or any other headquarters of any church because God is omnipresent. That means God is all presence. God then is present where you are. The kingdom of God is within you, so prayer must take place within you, and it must take place within you wherever you are and whenever you are. Pray without ceasing, says Paul.
Now, you see, we have an entirely different concept of prayer than some of the old ones that say, first of all, that you must pray in church or receive communion in church or baptism in church, all of which is praying in church. Here it makes no difference whether you do any of these things since prayer is of the Spirit. Now we have a slightly different concept of prayer because now we do not connect prayer up, necessarily, with a church. In other words, you can pray in church if you feel comfort there. If you feel joy and peace and quiet certainly there is no reason why we shouldn’t pray in church, but it doesn’t make the prayer any holier than the one that you pray when sitting in a restaurant right next to a bar, or if need be and the necessity calls you to a bar for some reason, your prayer is just as sacred there, or in a hospital or in a prison or in your kitchen or your bathroom. Where you are is the kingdom of God and that is where you learn to make your contact. If you are on a battle field, you wouldn’t be without God just because you couldn’t reach a church to pray in or get a communion in or a baptism in or a confession or a priest’s intersession. Would it make any difference in the experience of you and your Father if there were no priests there or no edifice there or no ceremony there?
Now, we are warned in scripture against vain repetition, but if you go to a Hebrew synagogue, you are offered a prayer book with made-up prayers, which every Friday night you repeat, every Saturday you repeat, all the holy days have separate prayers all of which you repeat and if you live to be ninety years of age, you keep repeating them for ninety years day in and day out—the same Friday, the same Saturday the same holidays. Yes, but if you go to an Episcopal church you have a prayer book there too with made-up prayers, probably in the other churches too, and yet we are warned against vain repetition. Well, there isn’t any repetition that isn’t vain. That is why, mark this now, watch it: In The Infinite Way in all of our classwork you will find that I have told our students, “Never depend on a treatment that you gave yesterday, even if it raised the dead or healed a cancer instantaneously. Don’t go back to yesterday’s treatment. Don’t go back to the truth you knew yesterday.”
In our sort of unsacred way, we speak of “hot truths” and “cold truths.” A “cold truth” is a “hot truth” of yesterday trying to be warmed up today. When a truth wells up inside of you, when some statement of truth, when some word of God comes into your consciousness, that is the word of God, and it’s quick and powerful, it’s sharp, and it goes right straight through to the center of being, and that’s hot! That really does the work. But if you should watch it raise the dead and try to use it again tomorrow or the day after, don’t; it’s just hash warmed up. Don’t do it because the statement of truth wasn’t the prayer or the treatment. That was the effect of God’s presence appearing as words or thoughts.
And so it wasn’t that statement of truth that did the healing. It was the fact that the presence of God was there voicing Itself that did the healing. So don’t depend on the statement of truth. Go back again and get the same feeling of the presence of God, then it may come in the same words. It may come in different words. It may come without words. The highest form of prayer really has no words.
Now, anything that exists as words or thoughts or statements are really effects. They are not cause. They are not God. No matter how holy they may seem to be, they are not God. They are effects. God is an invisible something. God is an invisible spirit, presence or power that no one yet has been able properly to define or explain or analyze. All that we know is that looking out at this universe, it must have a cause. Looking at ourselves we know it has a cause, but no one, even those who have seen God face to face, have actually seen with their physical eyes that which we call God. They have seen God in the way that Jesus meant when he spoke about: Do you have eyes and do not see? With your inner vision you come face to face with God and with your inner hearing you hear the voice of God.
So never depend on anything that exists as effect. Always depend on that which is, in any given moment, in the invisible as much as to say if we here now were confronted with a problem instead of rushing to know some truth, let us do just the opposite of that. Let us say, “Wait a minute. I don’t know anything. God it’s your time.” And let God voice a truth, then you’ll have a treatment that really will raise the dead. It will heal the sick for you. It will bring supply. It will bring employment. It will fulfill itself on any terms because to God nothing is impossible. To God nothing is impossible, but there must be God. You must have actually that feeling, that realization of the presence of God, and then it can set a table for you in the wilderness. Then it can multiply loaves and fishes; you can’t; I can’t; Jesus couldn’t. He knew that. He said, “I of my own self can do nothing.” So if the loaves and fishes were multiplied, it was the presence of God with Jesus that did it. To use the Hebrew word, Emmanuel, God with us.