Prayer I

 

March 1860

 

by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

 

Can any good come out of prayer? I answer yes, but not in the sense that is supposed. A phenomenon can be produced in the same way that is brought about by mesmerism, but there is no knowledge in the church-prayer. It is the effect of superstition and ignorance. It is not of Christ, but from a mind ignorant of self and God. No man prays except the one who wants a favor, to be rewarded for more than he deserves, or one who has more of this world's goods than his neighbor. Witness the effect of the prayer on this world, those who pray to the earthly man, who belong to the lowest class of mankind. No man of character will beg or pray for the sake of gain.

True prayer is the desire of the heart, and if the heart is right the prayer will be answered. For as the heart is only the figure or emblem of knowledge, a true heart must have scientific knowledge, and a corrupt heart must be full of superstition and ignorance, deceit and hypocrisy.

It is generally admitted that prayer is of divine origin, but if it is to be offered to God this is not the case. If it is of the devil, I will admit that it is as old as its father, for we read that the devils prayed, as when the devil wanted Christ to worship him. So do all men of narrow minds like to be worshipped for what they have no claim to. One great argument offered in favor of prayer is that Christ said, "He who humbles himself shall be exalted." What is required of a person to humble himself is to get down on his knees and hold up his hands, and in a hypocritical can't ask of God some favor which he is not entitled to. But God rewards everyone according to his acts, and He knows our wants before we ask. So to ask of a Being whom we acknowledge knows our wants is either to curry favor or flatter Him with the idea that we think He will be pleased to see how much we honor Him. This is the wisdom of this world, but not the wisdom of God. God asks no such worship. To worship God is to worship Him in spirit and in truth, for He is in the truth, not in the error. Our reward is in our act and if we act rightly and honestly we get the reward. If we act selfishly we get the result also. He who expects God to leave Science and come down to ignorance and change a principle for a selfish motive to please Him, is either a knave or fool and knows not God. God is like the fire which throws heat or love on all around. Those who will can enjoy the heat or love, but if we choose to stand out in the cold, we cannot expect exclusive privileges; for God has no respect to one over another. I have no account with God, He pays me as soon as my work is done, and I do not ask favors of Him apart from His principles. If I act wrongly He will not step out and correct me. I must do it myself. If I act rightly I get my reward, for our happiness or misery is in our acts, and as we are a part of each other, our happiness is in our neighbor, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. If you understand this, Jesus said, you are not far from the kingdom of heaven. Jesus had no sympathy with the hypocrites' prayers. He warned His disciples and the multitude against all such prayer. His prayer was that God would forgive them for they knew not what they did. A desire to know God, is a desire to know ourselves, and that requires all our thoughts to come into that happy state of mind. That will lead man in the way to health. This is a science and is Christ's prayer. [The ignorance of this is superstition and belief in all sorts of evil spirits. This is the effect of this world's prayer; both will be answered but one contains no knowledge and the other contains science the world knows not of.]

— March, 1860.

P. P. Quimby

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