Prayer II


March 1860


by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


I look on church-prayers as I do on all other errors that have been invented to govern mankind and keep the people in ignorance of themselves and God. You may ask if I would destroy prayer. No more than I would the law for murder or theft; but I would put into man a higher law that would teach him to worship God as a God of science and knowledge. This law would put the law of ignorance to death. For prayer is the law of man, not of God, and makes God nothing but a mere sorcerer or magician to frighten the ignorant and superstitious. It puts Jesus on a level with the jugglers of His day. The construction upon the parables shows the state of intelligence of the church. It makes Christ's mission here of but little account to the world of science.

Take for instance the parable at the wedding. The turning of water into wine is quoted as some great thing, as though God took this way to convince man of His power. But if there could not be a better explanation of this parable than the church gives, Christ is merely a magician.

Why should the explanation of Christ's mission which was to heal the sick, destroy death, and bring life and immortality to light, be left to persons who have no sympathy for the sick, but who by their interpretation of Christ keep man sick and ignorant of himself? Of what advantage has Christ been to the sick, according to the common opinions of mankind? Does the priest relieve them of any burdens? If not, where is the benefit of the church-prayer? It is in contradiction to Christ's own teaching. What was Christ's idea of prayer? He called it hypocrisy and a blind guide to lead the blind. He warned the people against those who prayed in the streets, told them to obey all the laws, but not to believe in the doctrines, for they laid burdens on the people grievous to be borne. Now, if these burdens were their belief Jesus must explain them away, to relieve them, and his explanation was their cure. Therefore He said to them, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy leaden, and I will give you rest." Jesus's explanation was his religion, but their religion contained all the superstition of Egyptian darkness, prayers, sacrifices, and burnt offerings.

Jesus did not condemn any of the above, but He had a knowledge of the errors that man is subject to and His mission was to bring science to light, in regard to our ignorance or darkness, and put man into a state where he might, by relieving the sufferings of his fellow men, be of some advantage to himself and to the world. His religion was not of this world, and the world knows Him not. Christ is God or Science, and to know God is to know Science and put it in practice so that the world can be benefited by it. This tells the rules of action. They are not left to the natural man, but they must prove themselves on some subject that is in need of it. The same subject is in the world now that was at the time when Jesus put His theory into practice. He gave His disciples knowledge to put the same into practice for the benefit of mankind.

Who art, thou, O man, that shall say to the poor and sick, lame and blind, that the person who can help you is a "humbug" or acting under the direction of the devil? If the devil will take your aches and pains and relieve you, cling to him, and at the end of your disease you will see that this devil is the same one who was crucified eighteen hundred years ago, by just such enemies to the sick as they have now. I, for one, am willing to be called a humbug by all such people. I have the same class to uphold me that Jesus had, the sick. The well opposed Him, and the well oppose me. I do not set myself up as an equal with Jesus, or any other man, but I do profess to believe in that principle that Jesus taught, which I call Christ. That I try to put into practice as far as I understand it, and the sick are my judges, not the well; for as the well need no physician they cannot judge me. Neither am I willing to be judged by the creeds till they can show that their belief is above their natural power. I shall not take their opinions of what they know nothing about. I will draw a line between the professor of Christ and myself, and leave the sick to pass judgment. As I have the Bible I have the same means of judging as any one, for everyone has a right to his opinion concerning it. But there is no truth in an opinion unless it can be put into practice as Christ put His into practice. Then it becomes a fact.

What does Jesus Himself say of this power? He admitted it, for He says, "of myself I can do nothing," thus admitting a power superior to Himself; and also when asked a question by His disciples, He said, "No man knoweth, not the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but My father only." At another time when asked by a scribe who had been listening to Jesus, while He reasoned with a Sadducee, "What is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered "The first commandment is Hear, Oh, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." Here He admits a supreme power, and says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself."

The young man said unto Him, "Well, Master, thou hast said truly, for there is one God, and there is none other than He, and to love Him with all thy heart and soul is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." Jesus saw that he had answered discreetly and He said unto him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." These questions and answers were given before the whole multitude, and I see no reason for disputing Jesus' own words by putting a misconstruction on some passage, and making Jesus something that neither He nor anyone else ever thought of. He was accused of making Himself equal with God, but that was their ignorance, which gave that construction, and if I had not been accused of the same thing a hundred times, I might put the same .construction on Jesus as others do. But I can see, and show to the sick beyond a doubt, the difference between Jesus and Christ, and the difference between the two words gives a very different meaning to religion. The church's construction makes our acts and lives one thing and our religion another. Jesus made our acts the effect of our knowledge and in proportion as we understand Science we understand God, and acknowledge Him in truth. This Science separates us from this world of sin and death and brings life and immortality to light, and this life was what Jesus taught. Ignorance of Christ or Science put "Jesus" and "Christ" together and said "Jesus Christ." For superstition could not account for any of the cures that Jesus made except they were from heaven, and although Jesus tried all in His power to convince them to the contrary, He could not. The religious people of Jesus' day like the Christians of this day, made heaven and hell places independent of man, and although some may deny it their acts give the lie to their protests.

All people pray to a being independent of themselves, acknowledging a state or place where God is, and when they pray, supposing that He listens, ask Him to hear their prayers and relieve their wants. This is precisely what the heathen did, and Jesus called them hypocrites and condemned them, for He said this offering up of prayer and sacrifices year after year could never take away sin or error, so Jesus embraced Christ or Truth and laid down His own life for the happiness of mankind. Before this the world knew not Christ or Truth. This truth Jesus taught, and His teaching was the healing of the nations, and if His truth had not been misconstrued, the world at this time would have been rid of thousands of errors it now has. This was Jesus' truth, which was to the people a mystery, and seemed to embrace a belief merely, for a truth to a person who cannot understand it is a belief. But Jesus labored to convince the people that it was a science, that the fruits of it were seen in His practice, and that it could be taught; for He made a difference between His cures and His disciples' cures, and the cures of the rest of the world.

The magicians and sorcerers cured by their belief. They thought their power came from a spirit-world, and they acted upon this belief. They believed that disease was sent into the world to torment mankind. The priests had the same belief. Each one's prayer was to his own God, to keep him clear of his enemy. The priest held up to the people the idea that they must do something different from living honestly and dealing with mankind as though we were one family, that a certain belief was necessary to keep us clear of hell, which itself had been invented to torment man. This doctrine kept the people in ignorance of themselves and made them nervous, giving rise to belief in evil spirits. As people are all the time inventing ideas for their own interest, it finally led to the introduction of the medical faculty. Now it seemed to cover all the ground that ignorance and superstition wanted, it put the masses into the power of the two classes, the priests and the doctors. The priests would offer up prayers to their God for the salvation of souls, and the doctors would offer up prayers for their business. The people are, in the meantime, in the condition that the prophet told of when he said, "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests can rule by their means, and the people love to have it so, but what will they do in the end thereof?"

Jesus wanted to introduce this Science, which He called Christ, which gave the lie to all the old opinions of Jesus' day. He had no heaven or hell out of man, no happiness, or misery outside of us. His God was in Him and in us, and His prayers were in Him and in us, and His life and ours was this Christ, the law which He put in all of us. If this law could be understood, it would rid us of all the evils that are bound on mankind. It would not keep man in ignorance of himself, but would exalt him in the natural world. It would rid him of the superstition of the world, would make men worship God, not as one who could be flattered by our hypocrisy, but as a God of science that gives to every man just what he learns. Those who seek Him in prayer desiring to learn His laws will be rewarded in proportion to their labor. He asks no prayers for His good, and a prayer made up of words is lost unless accompanied by good to someone, and if we do good to one another our prayer is in the act. When Jesus said to the righteous, "Come ye blessed for I was naked and you clothed me," they were not aware that they had done any good, but He said, "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these my brethren you did it unto me," or God, and in His answer to the wicked, "Inasmuch as you did it not to them, ye did it not to me," He put the good and bad in acts, and not in the words. So true prayer is in our acts, false prayer is in our words, and by their fruits you shall know them. For He said, "Not all those who say, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven or Science"; not those who say, "I understand it," but those who put it into practice so that the world shall be the wiser for the knowledge. If this is so, "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man," or one learned in this world's knowledge to embrace this Truth or Christ. But I say to all, strive to understand.

— March, 1860.

P. P. Quimby

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