Chapter 10 – The Prayer of Faith

Chapter X
W. John Murray
Mental Medicine
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1923.

[158] When James the Apostle said, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick,” he must have realized that there were many prayers which were not prayers of faith. Mrs. Browning must have known it also, when she said, “An ill prayer God uses as a foolishness, to which he gives no answer.”

The countless prayers which have received no answer, have resulted in doubt and despair on one hand, and a foolish attempt to explain the reason for it on the other. There are some things which even an omnipotent God cannot do and one of them is to work in opposition to His own laws. During the late war, God could not answer the individual prayers of those so-called Christians who were slaughtering each other, and asking Him at the same time for victory to [159] perch on their respective banners. It is no denial of the omnipotence of God to say that He could not answer such “foolish prayers;” it is merely a reflection on the ignorance which would ask an impartial Father to show partiality.

There is a science of prayer just as there is a science of chemistry, and of mathematics. Who would pray the science of chemistry to make combinations of elements which cannot be combined? Or who would ask the science of mathematics to support or justify a false calculation? Believing that God has made us sick, as so many of us have been taught to believe, and also believing that God never changes His mind, because He is “immutable,” would it not be more logical to accept the condition and save our breath for other purposes, than to waste it in useless petition? This does not mean that prayer is valueless any more than it means that steam is worthless. It simply means that Prayer, like steam, must be properly employed if it is to have the desired results.

[160] Prayer is as natural to a soul in sorrow or sickness as a bark is to a dog. It is a cry of desperation at a certain stage of our development, and an impulse of aspiration at a higher stage of our unfoldment. Constant importuning on the part of man is no more commendable than is constant barking on the part of a dog. The soul should be engaged in something higher than seeking after petty personal benefactions. It should hold itself in such relation to the Universal that benefactions would gravitate in the direction of man, as the vivifying warmth of the sun flows in the direction of the sunflower which opens itself to the light in the morning.

This is the highest form of prayer; the lower forms we are all perfectly familiar with. What we need at present is that form of prayer which produces results, as unerringly as inner calculations in the science of numbers result in outer solutions of mathematical problems. Limitations, mental, moral, physical and financial, are the problems that are now pressing for solution, and [161] the old methods will not do any more than “The old oaken bucket” will suffice for a city’s need of water.

If I were speaking in terms of theology, I would say that, with every increasing need of humanity, God has provided a way to meet that need, and the need for a more effective prayer has brought to light a supply for this demand, as it will for all other demands. “Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view,” says Emerson, and if we will examine this statement in addition to reading it, we shall see more in it than appears on the surface. What are the facts of life? Science is steadily acquainting us with the facts of the objective world, but how about the facts of life, or the spiritual universe? Is there a science by which we can distinguish between the real and the apparent in the world of mind, as we can in the world of matter? Can we say that a mirage on land or sea is an appearance to our senses, which must be repudiated by our science if we are to understand [162] it for the illusion it is? Of course we can, and no scientist will disagree with us. When we contemplate the facts of life from the highest point of view, can we say that the mirage of evil is a something which appears to our senses but which our science must repudiate if we are to overcome it? Of course we can, and no true philosopher will take issue with us.

Starting with Divine Principle, as the only Cause from which all real effects proceed, we are contemplating the facts of life from the scientific point of view, and as we do this we see things as they are in truth.

In the case of the man with the withered arm, Jesus did no pray God to restore it to its original usefulness, as we have been taught to believe. His prayer was not a petition but a recognition, a recognition of a fact of life which was immutable and unassailable, and as a result of this recognition it was a command. The recognition of the great fact of life that man, the effect, must be like God, the Cause, on the principle that [163] “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,” produced a state of mind in Jesus which enabled Him to speak with authority, and not as “the scribes and pharisees.” If Perfection, which God certainly is, cannot ultimate itself in imperfection, then that which appeared to His senses as a withered arm must be denied, and when this was denied and the opposite of it affirmed in Silence, or contemplation, He could say, “Stretch forth thine hand” and it was as He saw it.

One day we shall understand what the Master psychologist meant when He said, “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” When we do, our prayers will be affirmations of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. We shall deny the power of evil by the recognition of God as the ALL-POWER, which admits of no other power.

When the science of prayer is understood, and petition gives place to affirmation, and supplication to the intelligent recognition of the all-power of Good, discord will disappear as darkness is dissipated when light [164] bursts upon it. Then the illusion of a withered arm will give place to the actuality of perfect ones. Let us bear in mind however, that only the prayer of faith will accomplish this mental transformation.

Faith is not to be limited to trust, no matter how strong this trust is; nor to belief, no matter how profound this belief may be. It includes these but it cannot be limited to them. Faith is that which transcends the senses and perceives that which cannot be seen or known by these senses. It is that capacity of the soul to see the ideal back of the apparent, and to make the ideal real. The apparent arm was withered according to sense, but Jesus, looking through the senses into the realm of the real, saw God where disease seemed to be. He visualized and His vision or mental picture became actualized as it always will be if we hold it unwaveringly.

“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”–John 13:17

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Chapter 11

Mental Medicine
Table of Contents

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