The Pathway of Roses/Prayers That are Answered
PRAYERS THAT ARE ANSWERED
The Infinite is changeless, therefore there is no special providence in the usual sense of that term, and yet in the higher sense, everything is special providence. Every act of the Supreme is a special act because it provides for a special need somewhere in the life of the human soul.
However, it is not necessary to ask God to go outside of His changeless laws to answer our particular prayer. Our particular prayer is already provided for; that is, God is already doing that which is required to supply what we desire. Therefore, God will not have to do something special to answer our special request. He is already and eternally doing everything; but we must do something special to secure what God has already provided for us.
What is called special providence is not the result of a special act of God, but the result of a special act of man; and this special act of man is the act of man going to God to present his request and receive his heart's desire.
The prayers that are answered are not the prayers that we express when we are away from God, but when we are with God. Our prayers are never answered when we think of God as far away; to receive an answer to our prayer we must go to God; we must enter into His very presence, and while we are in His presence there is no true request that we can possibly make that will not be granted.
The Infinite is limitless, both in power and in love; therefore, God is not only able to do everything that we ask Him to do, but He wants to do it. It is a great privilege for infinite love to do everything, and the love of God is infinite.
It is not the wish of God to withhold from us anything that we may desire; it is His supreme desire to give us everything, but we are created with a free will, therefore God gives only that which we, through our own free will, may select.
The average person thinks he is imposing upon God when he asks for much; but the fact is that the more we ask for the more we please God, provided we go to Him and receive it, and if we wish to please God in the highest measure we should pray without ceasing, pray for everything we can use in the building of a great and beautiful life.
The power of prayer, however, should not be used exclusively for the realization of what is usually termed spiritual things; all things become spiritual when animated with the spiritual life; and all things are good when used for a good purpose; therefore, we are free to pray for everything that can add to the whole of life, be it of the body, the mind or the soul.
The true spiritual life does not mean the riches of the soul combined with weakness of the body, poverty of the person and ignorance of the mind. The true spiritual life is an ideal life on all planes, and God is ready to provide us with everything that can make the whole of life ideal, if we only pray for it with the prayer that not only asks of God but also takes us to God.
The true prayer never doubts, but believes implicitly that the request will be granted; and this is natural, because we cannot possibly doubt when we know that the more we ask of God the more we please God. But it is not only natural for the true prayer to have perfect faith; it is necessary. Before our prayers can be answered we must go to God and receive what we have asked for; and it is only through perfect faith in God that we can enter into the presence of God.
The true prayer is always inspired with the thought "I know that thou wilt answer me"; and this thought is the spiritual product of faith—the faith that feels the love of God.
The true prayer is also animated with the highest form of spiritual gratitude, and is therefore always inspired with that beautiful thought, "My Father, I thank thee that thou hearest my prayer, and I thank thee that thou hearest me always." The prayer of faith knows that God does hear every prayer, and that he will answer every prayer providing we come to Him in person with our request. In consequence, when we are in the spirit of true prayer, our gratitude must necessarily be boundless.
When we feel that God will give us anything we may ask for, that there is no doubt about it whatever, we cannot otherwise but give expression to the very soul of gratitude, and this gratitude is both limitless and endless; it is the soul's eternal thanksgiving.
To live in the spirit of that prayer that is ever asking God for everything, that believes that God is giving everything, and that is constantly giving thanks to God for everything, is, in itself, a life of the highest joy. In such a life everything is being taken to higher ground, because we are manifesting in body, mind and soul, more and more of the likeness of God. Personal existence is becoming ideal existence, while the soul is living in the full conscious realization of God's own beautiful world.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee.—Mat. 6:6.
This is not a literal statement; the inner chamber is not some secluded place in some material structure, nor is the door referred to something that can be opened or closed with the power of physical hands. There is only one inner chamber; there is only one secret place; there is only one sacred realm where the human meets the divine, and that is in the soul of man. To enter the inner chamber is to enter the beautiful stillness within. God is enthroned in every human soul, and to enter into the secret places of the soul is to meet Him face to face.
The door that must be closed is the consciousness of the without, that something in the mind that takes cognizance of the world of things. When we enter into secret, the visible must be forgotten; we are upon holy ground and must remove the shoes of external existence. We cannot enter the silent within so long as we think of outer things, therefore the door must be closed. And we cannot pray to the Most High unless we enter His presence. To pray is not simply asking God, it is also going to God. The most beautiful prayer is not uttered in words but is felt in the sacred depths of the soul.
When we simply ask God our prayers are never answered; we do not pray unless we enter into secret; it will profit nothing to make a request of the Infinite unless we first enter our inner chamber and close the door. And no person ever prayed in secret that was not rewarded openly. No prayer that is uttered in the sublime stillness of the soul is ever disregarded. All such prayers are answered. What we ask of God when we meet Him face to face, that we invariably receive.
When we have learned to pray in secret we should never have occasion to doubt any more. We then know that every request will be granted. Even though the answer does not come until the eleventh hour and the last moment of that hour, we know that it will come. Our faith is as perfect as the word of truth, and as high as the heavens of the spirit, and in that faith we live. God will find a way; we have asked Him to do so and every request brings that beautiful response, "I will not forsake thee nor leave thee; I am thy Redeemer, I will care for thee."
To enter the inner chamber of the soul is to transcend everything, for the time being, that pertains to the visible world; but this requires spirituality. We cannot enter the spirit so long as we are subject to the body, and we are subject to the body so long as we live for the body. When we begin to live for the spirit we can enter the innermost chambers of the spirit whenever we so desire, and when we are in this spiritual state we may pray for anything that is needed in the body, the mind or the soul. What we pray for in secret we shall receive openly. Therefore, to live for the body is to neglect the body and to lose the soul. But to live for the spirit is to give the fullness of life to the entire being of man.
When we pray openly we do not pray, because we cannot be in the secret chambers of the soul so long as we are in the material world of external things; and no desire is a prayer unless it is uttered in that secret place within where we meet Him face to face. We must be with God to receive of God, and as He is enthroned within us, the perfect path to His presence is to enter the spiritual chamber within. There we shall find, not only the sublime stillness of the soul's communion with God, but also the secret power of faith—the faith that makes all things possible.
The secret power of faith is found in the soul's nearness to God; the nearer we are to God the more perfect our faith, the greater our power and the more beautiful our life; and when we enter into the sacred realms of the soul we are in the very presence of God. We are touched by the spirit, and to be touched by the spirit is to be filled with the spirit—to be filled with everything that the perfection of divine spirit may contain.
The prayer without ceasing is the living of that life that is so near to God that we can feel His power and His love at all times. In that life the mind is in constant touch with the soul and every true desire becomes a prayer uttered in secret. Therefore, when we so live that life itself becomes a beautiful prayer, there is nothing that we can desire or ask for that we shall not receive. When we live so near to God that we actually have our being in the spirit of His life, our every desire will be just and wholesome and true, and all such desires will be fulfilled; not in the distant future, but now. We shall begin to receive now that which is in store for them that love Him and every day the measure will increase as long as eternity shall continue to be.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.—John 15:7.
There is no stronger statement to be found anywhere in the literature of the world, and there is possibly no statement that has received less attention. Nevertheless, those who understand the inner meaning of high spiritual truth, know that this statement is not only based upon an exact scientific principle, but that any spiritually minded person can demonstrate the whole truth that is contained in that principle.
To abide in the Christ is not simply to live in the acceptance of some belief about Jesus; but this is the current idea; and being purely literal it has no power whatever; in consequence, those who claim to abide in the Christ do not secure any greater results through their prayers than do those who depend solely upon mere personal desire. To abide in the Christ is to actually live in the Christ consciousness, and every part of mind and soul is permeated, through and through, with the life and the power of the Christ. Your entire being is in the hands of higher power; you are in a world where things are absolutely mastered by the spiritual will, and your mind is so spiritualized that it responds perfectly to the power of divine will.
When the words of the Christ abide in you, your mind is in absolute truth because those words are absolute truth. The mind that is in truth is in the true state of being, and to be in the true state of being is to be so close to God that anything desired can be received at any time. With God all things are possible, and God will do anything for us if we live as He lives. This is the secret, and we do live as God lives when we abide in the Christ with His words abiding in us.
When the words of the Christ abide in us, every thought we think and every word we utter will be animated with the spirit of the Christ; in like manner, inner spiritual power will give soul to everything we do, and that power that caused even the winds and the waves to obey will begin to work through us. Supreme power will be with us at all times to answer our prayers; our thoughts and our words will be living thoughts and words, and will carry the power of the spirit wherever they may go. We are therefore in that position where we not only can receive from God anything desired, but where we have the power to make our own prayers come true.
To be in the Christ means more than to receive from his love what our hearts may desire; it means spiritual mastership. To be in the Christ is not a mere feeling of the emotions; it is a life, and in that life the power of the Christ is supreme. Nor is this power given to us temporarily; it becomes our own, and we become able to bring to ourselves anything we may ask for. It is the promise. "What I have done, ye shall do." This promise is not mere words; it means something; it means that any person may attain spiritual mastership and cause the world of things to respond to the power of the Christ within him.
We have believed this; the hour is at hand to prove it; and those who will try will find that God is with them. But we must remember that this supreme state does not come through personal effort. "I can of myself do nothing." We must enter the consciousness of the Christ, the inner life of the Christ, the very spirit of the Christ; and our thought must become identical with His word. When there is no difference whatever between our thoughts and the sublime words of the Christ, then we can truthfully say that His words are abiding in us.
When our thoughts become identical with the words of the Christ, the same power that was in His words will be in our thoughts; and also in our words; a principle of truth so extraordinary that when we first think of it we become awe-stricken with thoughts so great, so wonderful, so marvellous that no tongue can ever give them utterance. And as we penetrate further into the inner meaning of this great truth we meet thoughts more marvellous still; we are face to face with the statement that we, even we, shall in the near future hold in our own hands the same power that wrought such wonder works in the hands of the Christ. Every person that is living the spiritual life is steadily moving towards that supreme goal.
When we abide in the Christ and His words abide in us, we are living absolutely in the inner spiritual world; in that world there are no impossibilities, and everything that we can possibly ask for is even now at hand; that all our prayers should be answered is therefore most evident. God is more willing to give than we are to receive; the reason why we do not receive what we may desire or need is because we are not willing; that is, our will is not in harmony with the will of God and our desire is not in harmony with the desire of God. But this harmony with God is fully secured when we begin to live in the Christ and begin to think only those thoughts that are inspired by the words of the Christ. We are then absolutely in His power, in His life, in His love; we may ask what we will; His life contains everything; His power brings forth everything; His love gives everything.
Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.—Mark 11:24.
This great statement gives positive emphasis to the law that we can gain actual possession only of that which we have gained conscious possession. Or, in other words, we must become conscious of the existence of an object before we can gain personal possession of that object. We must enter consciously into the life of that which we desire to gain, but we cannot enter into the life of that which we doubt the existence of. Doubt invariably produces a gulf between ourselves and the object of doubt, while faith produces mental and spiritual unity.
Spiritual unity is always followed by actual or personal unity; that is, what we enter into conscious possession of in the spiritual life we will, ere long, gain actual possession of in the physical life. Believe that you have already received in the spirit what you desire to receive in the person, and you will receive it in the person in a very short time. This is a law that positively cannot fail. Claim your own in the ideal world and you will receive your own in the real world.
This law gives rise to the practice of affirmations, but affirmations as usually employed do not comply with all the elements of the law. To simply affirm that we are what we wish to be, or that we have what we wish to possess, is not sufficient. Our spiritual possessions do not express themselves unless there is a strong, positive, personal desire for expression. We must pray for that which we wish to realize, but our prayer should not be mere asking. The prayer that asks in the feeling of uncertainty as to whether the thing prayed for is for us or not, is not a prayer of faith; and it is only the prayer of faith that is answered.
To pray in the feeling that knows that what we pray for is, even now, ready to be given to us, is to combine the desire for expression with the realization of possession, and we thus comply fully with the law of supply. In this attitude we have faith, and it is only through faith that we can enter into the spirit of that which we desire to actually possess. We must awaken the spiritual cause before we can secure the physical effect, but it is only through faith that we enter into the world of spiritual cause. Faith produces spiritual unity, and when we are one with the spirit we become conscious of the life, the richness and the power of the spirit. In consequence, we cause that which is in the spirit to be brought forth in the body, because what we gain consciousness of in the within we invariably express in the without.
When we simply affirm that we have what we wish to possess, the mental action is quite liable to be merely intellectual or even mechanical; and we do not touch our interior, spiritual possessions in the least. But when the affirmation is animated with prayer and desire the mental action becomes so deep that the spiritual life is reached. Or, to express the same truth in another manner, when our prayer for that which we desire is strengthened by the positive faith that we have already received it, we remove all doubts and barriers and enter at once into actual and conscious possession.
To use affirmations alone is to ignore the great possibilities of Infinite assistance. Any person may, for a while, build himself up mentally and personally with affirmations alone, but the structure is artificial; it is built upon the sand and will surely fall when the storms of environments and changing circumstances become a trifle too strong. Without the conscious and continuous assistance of the Infinite no man can travel very far on the upward path nor go very high in the scale of true being. But any man who takes God with him can overcome any obstacle in the world, scale the highest heights in existence, and what he builds today he is building for eternity.
The proper course to pursue is to ask God for everything you desire; ask Him to be with you in everything you wish to accomplish; pray without ceasing, and while you pray and work and press on to the great goal you have in view, affirm with positive faith that God is with you, that He has given you everything you can possibly desire or need. Believe that you have what you pray for, believe that you are what you wish to become; then ask God to enlarge your realization, to give perpetual increase to your faith, and to be constantly with you in working out these great supreme convictions.
The true prayer is a high spiritual communion with God, but it is not an inactive state. True prayer is oneness with God and a strong living desire for the full realization of all that is in the life of God. Therefore, the true prayer is the perfect way to God. If we wish to be with God we must pray. If we wish God to be with us we must pray. Live in constant prayer to God and you secure the constant and conscious assistance of God in everything you do. But a prayer is not a prayer unless it incorporates the affirmation of the truth upon which the prayer or desire is based.
To simply affirm that God is with you will not give you the assistance of God. When you affirm a truth you are talking to yourself; when you pray you are talking to God, and God listens only to what we say to Him. If we want God to go with us we must ask Him, we must talk to Him consciously if we wish His personal assistance and power.
To affirm the truth is absolutely necessary because affirmations will train our own minds in right thinking, will remove doubt and will develop in us the power to know that all that we can pray for or desire is ours now. But in order to enter into the actual realization of our own we must enter the kingdom of God, because all things that are in store for man are now in the kingdom. And it is true prayer—the prayer that goes to God that constitutes the "gates ajar" to the riches and glory of that wonderful kingdom.
And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. And I know that thou hearest me always.—John 11:41.
This beautiful statement was given before the answer to the prayer was received, and is therefore an illustration of the very highest form of supreme faith. To thank God after you have received what you asked for is simple; any heart can, at such a time, be full of sublime gratitude; but to thank God before you have received what you intend to ask for, and feel the fullness of that gratitude thrill every fibre in your entire being—that is spirituality indeed. Likewise, to be able to say that you know that God hears you always; only the mind that is in the spirit can make such a statement, and pray in this manner; but that alone is real prayer.
To precede any prayer with doubt is to close the door between yourself and the spirit; there must be no uncertainty in our communion with God; we do not believe that God is God so long as we are uncertain as to whether our prayers will be heard or no, and we cannot enter into the presence of God until we believe that He verily is God. When we know that the power of God, the wisdom of God, the love of God—all is limitless, we can feel no doubt whatever, as to whether or no, our prayers will be answered. Divine power can do anything, but divine love cannot refuse anything.
When we know God as He is, we know that He hearest us always, and we feel it a privilege to thank Him every moment for this great truth. And when we thank Him in this manner before we begin our prayer, we not only enter into the very love of His spirit, but we also enter into that faith that makes all things possible. The faith that knows that God hearest us always is so close to God that it is animated with the very power of God; and therefore when we are in such a faith nothing can be impossible; we may then ask for what we will and it will be done unto us.
The more perfectly we realize that God hears us always the higher we ascend in the scale of true spirituality, because this supreme faith lifts the soul higher and higher until we are received at the very throne of the Most High. And to be in His presence is to receive whatever we may have asked or prayed for. God is everywhere, and we may enter into His presence anywhere. The Most High is enthroned in every soul, and pure spiritual faith is the "gates ajar" to His beautiful kingdom.
There is abundance of hope in the world, but what we need is more faith. Everybody is hoping for better things; the poor hope to get rich; the sick hope to get well; the sad hope to gain happiness; the troubled hope to find peace; everybody is hoping for something, but few have the faith that is necessary to secure that something. When we are in bondage, or keenly realize our bondage, we hope that the Great Deliverer will come; we pray that He may come; we hope that our prayers will be answered, and we are so absorbed in our hopes that we fail to hear Him knocking at the door even now. To have hope is to face the door, but hope stands still; it never moves towards the door. To live in hope is simply to face the great goal, but we may continue to face that goal for ages, and never move forward a step. "To live in hope is to die in despair," because hope remains stationary; it never gains what it hopes to gain. But when faith begins we remain stationary no more. We press on directly, and with power, towards the coveted goal; our hopes are soon realized; our desires are granted; what we wished for is withheld no more; through faith we have entered that world where every prayer is answered and every wish made true.