I wouldn’t be surprised if those of you who have children in school right now won’t have your children say to you some day, “Did you really send a chaplain out with your armies to pray for your soldiers and not for the enemy?” They won’t believe it. They won’t believe it. They’ll say, “How could you have believed that God would protect your sons but not the other mothers’ and fathers’ sons. As if all sons weren’t alike to their parents and to God their true parent since we were taught that
Ye shall call no man on earth your father for one is your Father which art in heaven.
Just think that we were praying for the safety of our boys so that the other boys wouldn’t be quite so safe. You see, the whole teaching of prayer is now being changed, not only in the message of The Infinite Way and not only in some of the metaphysical movements that are adopting these same principles, but I have right with me printed paper sent out by orthodox ministers in the United States. In one case sent all over the United States and one case sent to the largest state in the Union (No, second largest now. We have a new one, a new largest). One of these says, “Are you one of those who still pray to God for things, for food, for clothing?”
Can you imagine that? That’s what I mean when I tell you that a generation from now the children will never be guilty of that form of prayer, and they would be shocked if they ever learned that their parents indulged it, because they will know the nature of God, something that has not been known on earth for many, many hundreds of years—the nature of God. Once you know the nature of God, you know the nature of prayer.
To know him aright is life eternal
but not by virtue of asking or begging or pleading, but by virtue of knowing the nature of prayer or that which establishes contact with our source, with our heavenly Father.
Here we come to one of these great secrets, second only to this great, great secret: When you know the true name of God, you know how foolish it is to pray to God for anything since you now discover that God is closer to you than breathing, nearer than hands and feet, and you discover that two thousand years ago Jesus knew that Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of these things, and it is His good pleasure to give you the kingdom, therefore seek not—even from God—what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink or wherewithal ye shall be clothed, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, and He knoweth your need before you ask.
Think, think only if we had remained with that simple secret of scripture, how different these last two thousand years or seventeen hundred years might have been on earth. There would have been none of this congregating in churches to pray to a nonexistent God for things which even an existent God couldn’t have given because all that God had we already have, and there is nothing left to pray for. Think if we had only remembered that God is spirit. How different our prayers would have been, and how different the answers because then, at least, we would have been praying within the realm of God.
But you see, the Master gave his life in order to tell the Hebrew people that it was stupid of them to go into that holy temple once a year and bring their tithes and the best of their cattle and the sacrifices of money and the sacrifices of birds, that God wasn’t in a holy mountain or in a holy temple, that God was neither lo here nor lo there that the kingdom of God was within you. He was crucified for that, and we have never believed his message. We have prayed about every place there is in the world to pray except within ourselves, and we have prayed in a manner that proved conclusively that we have never accepted God as the infinite intelligence of the universe or the divine love of the universe but always as something that we had to instruct, we had to influence.
Not only that, we committed the great sin. We personalized our prayer as if God could do for one what God isn’t doing for all; as if it were possible to get something from God that our neighbor wasn’t getting; as if God could channel his good to your doorstep or mine. Not that the Master didn’t die for telling us that also. It profiteth you nothing to pray for your friends. Pray for your enemies that ye may become the children of God—clear as a bell in the New Testament, clear as it can be stated. It profiteth you nothing, but we sit up all night praying for Momma, Poppa, Grandma and grandchild right in face of the Bible on our beside table that tells us to sit up and pray for your enemy in order that you man be the children of God.
I had an experience early in my practice of a mother who had a twenty-one year old son taken with pneumonia, and the night of the crisis the doctor told the mother that there was no hope, that there wasn’t enough strength left in the boy to pull him through the crisis and that he would go that night. You can imagine that that mother ran right to her corner to pray to God all night to save her son, but she was closer to God than she knew because in the middle of all this, it came to her that she was committing a sin, that her son was God’s son before he was her son, and that she was interfering with God’s plan for her son, and that it wasn’t her function to tell God what to do with His own son but to release her son into God’s care and then say, “You do with my son—your son—as you please. And you can’t be surprised to know that when daylight came that boy was completely healed to the extent that within twenty-four hours he was out of bed.
Recently, I witnessed another healing of that same kind when a mother had been praying for her son for a long, long time for an infirmity to be met, and then in the midst of a prayer the revelation came to her, “This is a sin. You must not pray for your son. You must release your son to God. Never again pray for him.” Within a few days he was healed of an infirmity that medicine could not have healed.
Now, I cite these two instances to you, more especially because I had nothing to do with the healings, it was the boy’s mother in both cases, so it is not a personal testimony, but merely to show you what prayer can do when prayer is understood, when one doesn’t personalize prayer and try to have God pick out a special favor for Mr. Jones. To pray aright, it is necessary to know Him aright. To know Him aright certainly must first of all embody the realization of God as the creative and maintaining and sustaining principle of all that is, of all that ever has been, of all that ever will be and giving to that God the glory, might, dominion, power which belongs to God. Certainly that must include infinite intelligence, divine love, and the ability to rest in the assurance as David has given it to us, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” To me that is a very deep prayer considered very simple, so simple that it probably is the deepest prayer in scripture:
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
Now, as we begin to understand this nature of God and then to realize that the Master told us that this God was closer to us than breathing; not that He wrote the poem but He told us that,
The Kingdom of God is within you.
Surely not within your body as you know, but within you; therefore you come to another great revelation: You are not body and the body is not you. Nine tenths of the trouble of mankind comes from the belief either that he is in a body or that the body is him.
Surely you know how often people look in the mirror and say, “How terrible I look.” They are not even looking at themselves; they are looking at their bodies. Others may even pride themselves on how well they look not realizing that they can’t see themselves in a mirror. One can only see oneself where one meets oneself and that is in meditation, in silence, in communion. No one has ever been encased in a body. Bodies have been examined from head to feet, operated upon, dissected. No one has ever found anyone inside the body. There isn’t anyone in any body, and you, more especially, are not in your body.
One of these days you will have occasion to test that out for yourself and discover that it is literally true that you do not exist in your body. Then you will commence to perceive a little more about your true identity. Then you will become more and more interested in finding out, “Where am I? Who am I? What am I?” That way lies wisdom; that way lies spiritual understanding; that way lies the search for God which always ends where every search for the Holy Grail has ended, right back where it started, within one’s own being.
When I first went out talking this way, the shocks were too numerous to mention. The arguments that came back to me afterward were too numerous to mention. Today, I hear more often than not, “Well, you didn’t tell us anything new this time; did you?” No, it is getting to be an old story now, not only with our students who have heard it from my lips, have heard it from the tapes, have read it in the books, but they are beginning to read it now in other literature. That is why I know, or one of the reasons that I know, that the kingdom of God is much nearer realization on earth than you have any idea because it all begins when the barriers are taken down; when there is no longer my God and your God, my religion and your religion, my truth and your truth; when it begins to be revealed that there is only one God and that this God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust; that, as a matter of fact, this God is apt to be more of a God to the sinner than to the saint.