Lesson XIIRev. W. John Murray
PRAYER AND CONTEMPLATION
The Murray Course in Divine Science
Society of the Healing Christ
New York, 1927.
Man’s disorderly thinking, we have seen, is responsible for his disorderly conditions, and we have come to see that if he would change these conditions he must put his house in order and think in a new manner. We have taught you that God’s thoughts are in Divine order and that if you would work intelligently, having a given objective before you, you must think as God thinks, and your thoughts must be in the right relation.
We have seen that you have at your command all the powers by which the body can be transformed and renewed and resurrected at will. “Put ye on, therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ, as the Super-Conscious Mind, is the master of the situation. “Be ye transformed, therefore, by the renewing of your mind.” In this manner you can be born again, born into the Kingdom of God, to which you are joint heir with Christ Jesus.
The higher the ideas held in mind the more quickly will they bring the mind and body into normal relations. Man must forsake his old method of thinking and develop a new consciousness. He must be “born from above” if he would be saved from his limitation, inharmony, poverty, sickness and death.
Death will be no more when man lays hold of spiritual substance and life and squares himself to the standard of Divine law. Man is a lasting, eternal temple of the living God and man can know that temple as he turns to the Father within and prays and praises and learns of Him.
Prayer has a quickening power. Paul knew that prayer is the way that the spiritual consciousness is quickened when he said: “Pray without ceasing.”
But how much this injunction has been misunderstood! Men have thought of prayer as the repetition of a formula, or a constant gabble of a single prayer, or a recitation of litanies, rosaries and creeds.
Perhaps you think of prayer in this manner. Cease to do so. In the previous Lesson, on the Power of the Word, we have shown you how to “pray without ceasing” by the simple method of consecrating your day, your work and your night’s rest. Every act, every thought, every word, is under such consecration, and perfect prayer is offered without ceasing.
Here is what Jesus said about prayer, and in saying it he said all that could be said: “When thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray…that they may be seen of men. Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door pray to thy Father, which seeth in secret and shall reward thee openly. Use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
“Prayer is the divine method of opening the soul upward to receive what God is more than willing to give,” says Dr. W. F. Evans. Get that. It is a wonderful definition. “Prayer is,” Dr. Evans continues, “a valuable specific for the mental and spiritual disturbances that underlie all diseases. It is the vehicle, the medium, through which spiritual medicine is given. It is a natural instinct of the soul…If, in distress of body, or unhappiness of mind, we are drawn by a spiritual instinct to God in prayer, it is because it is a part of the Divine plan that we should thus find relief.”
Quotations on the efficacy of prayer could be multiplied to the extent of volumes, but we cannot refrain from giving Emerson’s definition because of its loftiness and because of its value in the interpretation of Divine Science. “Prayer,” says this father of the New Thought, “is the contemplation of being from the highest point of view.”
It is on the basis of this definition that we wish to go forward from Prayer, as we understand it, to Contemplation, which is prayer in its highest, or Divine, form.
When Jesus said: “Enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret,” he had the form of prayer in view that he followed himself. This does not mean only that you should draw apart to a quiet place to pray, but it means that you enter into the closet of yourself, “closet” meaning a closed room without windows and with but a door for an opening–the closet of your heart–the silent, secret place of being–and to close the door on all the disturbing thoughts clamoring for entrance. This is what we call “the Silence.” You carry this closet with you wherever you go, and, in the midst of the greatest crowds and noisiest disturbances, can enter into it and have solitude. You can create your Silence wherever you are and can, at least for a precious moment or two, close your eyes and hold communion with Divine Mind.
But the proper place for the Silence is in your own room and the proper time is your quiet hour. Then you can withdraw from the world, shut out all the noises of the day, “the tumult and the shouting,” and induce for yourself a calm in which all disturbance fades away.
Energy is not required for prayer. Intensity of thought may exist in a perfect peace, but passionate exhortation or dramatic declaration is destructive of the conditions in which your communication with the Divine should take place. We therefore cease from agitation and find a spiritual repose through a gradual relaxation. The mind is to be neither lulled to a torpid condition nor lashed to an emotional pitch. It is to be kept cool and collected, as if facing a momentous possibility, gathering within itself the importance of the contact it is about to effect, the petitions it is about to make, the problem it wishes to receive light upon and the reverential manner in which it is to present our wants. The very thought that we are to speak alone, soul to soul, with God the Creator, is so wonderful that every faculty, while stilled, should be alert. We should await on His presence with awe, realizing that we are to be still and know that He is with us.
We believe in the Omnipresence of God, and as in our Lesson V we learned of His nature, we know that He is everywhere at all times. God is in the room with us. He is in our mind with us. He is about us and within us more even than the air we breathe. He is the power behind our every action, for in Him we move, and He is in the texture of our thought, for in Him we have our being.
Wherever any part of God is, all of God is, in His totality and entirety. As the entire ocean is in a drop of sea water; as the whole of the atmosphere is in a breath of air; as all of the sun is in a shaft of light; so God is present in every place absolutely and completely. If we have difficulty in realizing this fact it is because the Old Thought that God is a person is still holding dominion over us and we think that if He is present here he must be absent from other places. When Paul said that “in Him we live, move and have our being,” he said everything, and we have but to still our agitations and close our eyes to realize this fully. We can hear music within ourselves, we can utilize the principle of mathematics within ourselves without for a moment losing sight of the fact that everyone else can do the same thing and that these principles are in nowise taken away from, added to or withdrawn from a given center by our doing so. It is thus with God. God is Life and God is Love, Wisdom and Power. He has no home but in the kingdom of order and harmony which is present throughout all nature.
We should enter the silence with the thought: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Followed at an interval by: “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the world be silent before Him.” And then we should begin contemplation in an orderly manner–one thing at a time–with a proper examination of each in all its phases, a pause for praise or adoration, and a proceeding to the next thing. We must not be like children, crying out all our wants in a confused babble of utterance. We should consider the Majesty of the Presence before Whom our soul stands as a child before its father, and in sweetness, in dignity and respect present our petitions.
We should not look for revelations in God’s Voice as to a Prophet; or for special spiritual manifestations, or for glorious visions, or ecstatic saturations, or for the occurrence of a great miracle. We should retain the calmness and considering power that we should bring with us to a church or to a temple of justice. We are not going to be swept off our feet by a heavenly vision or blinded by celestial illumination, or receive a particular recognition from God proclaiming us a beloved son in whom He is well pleased. Rather should we feel that we are in the presence of a fountain of sympathy and love from which we may draw as freely as we like–in the presence of a Wisdom that is omniscient and which flows into us silently rather than charges or admonishes us orally; in the presence of all Truth from which we may catch a few rays of inspiration.
If in the Silence and under these conditions our own thoughts grow strong and crystallize into conviction; if in this Silence we feel our own remissness in the performance of those acts necessary to bring into being the things we ask for; if in this holy state we receive an inner light that clears up the heart of our mystery; then we may well feel that we have had our touch with the Unseen, our bit of illumination and Divine counsel.
This method of prayer, followed steadily, is actually marvelous in exterior and interior results. We cast off the old habits of thought as a serpent casts his skin or a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis. We see everything about us in a new light. Truth, Justice, Mercy, Loving-kindness, Joy and Peace have a new and nobler meaning to us. We shed the commonplace and put on the white robe of idealism. This is our wedding garment. We are at peace because we know that we are under the shadow of the Almighty, that we are under the covert of His wings, that we are in possession of all things. Our spirit is invaded by a new and a gentler Presence. We grow wings, as it were. We drop the material. We learn to feel that we are dwelling in a spiritual universe; that we are not weak, we are not sick, we are not poor–we are spirit, having everything and are now and forevermore identified with the Christ of God.
Our revelations may not come to us at once–rather it were better to say that we do not detect our revelations for a while. But presently we get to see that some important thought possesses us; it may come to us in an old phrase that has always appeared to be trite and dull in its drab garments. But now it comes to us in a brilliant efflorescence and with a revelating meaning. “How is it?” you ask yourself; “I’ve never known before what that phrase meant. Isn’t it astounding?” And you roll it about in your thought as you would something sweet on the tongue, and you ruminate over it and press more sweetness and comfort out of it. It will ever wear its brilliant dress for you and your mind has but to turn to it to regain for it the lustre of the first inspiration.
Or you perform some action in a perfectly matter-of-fact way, and presently it brings about a surprising result. You consider this strange happening incredulously as your mind puts two and two together and the origin of the result is revealed to you as divine, or what is commonly called “providential.”
Or you hear a sermon and some truth presents itself in a chance remark or a quoted text that sends a fiery dart into your mind that sets the consciousness aflame with inspired thought. This thought, as glowing as a coal, literally burns a path through the commonplace avenue of your mind and consumes old beliefs and conceptions as chaff. The new thought crowds out all others for a time and then takes up a permanent, controlling position.
These, suggestions merely, are what happen to you if you practice Contemplation in the Silence and it is more than likely that it is in this way God will speak to you.
It requires long practice in the art of meditation before the high illuminations come. You cannot expect to have long meditations in the beginning, any more than you can expect to give long hours to first lessons on a musical instrument. One must begin with short exercises, playing the scales as it were, and if you are apt you persist until you obtain a certain facility. We often hear people say: “I cannot get anything out of the Silence because I cannot concentrate.” Too much stress has been laid on concentration. When it comes down to “brass tacks,” to use a popular expression, no one can concentrate for more than a minute or two at a time. Thinking is not a job like washing dishes or loading up a wagon, to be begun with resolution and gone through uninterruptedly, with energy and system. Thinking is a process like the movements of a goat, a jumping here, a leaping there, a bounding upward, a standing still with lowered head. The Latin word for goat is Capricornus and from this we get our word capricious. Thought is capricious. But it can be moved forward, even though it jumps sideways and backward, and leaps upward and tears off at a tangent–the mind can drive it along an appointed course even to a far destination. That is all that concentration amounts to–holding the thoughts in line, keeping to the objective ahead of you regardless of distractions or interior disturbances. Whenever a thought with a special meaning comes to you, cling to it and exhaust it before proceeding to the next one. Or, if it persists, let it stay with you, for it is fruitful and you must hold it until you extract from it all the meat you can find in it.
Don’t watch the clock–don’t have one around–and don’t limit yourself as to time if you can help it. Let time take care of itself, as it would at a theatre or in the company of friends. Remember that this is an hour for the exercise of your spirit, in which, as in physical exercises, you develop your mental muscles, your ability to think consecutively and to reason things out. If you are in earnest, this is your testing time. Practice with the spirit for the purpose of developing its thews and sinews, its stretching powers, its flexibility and endurance. The inner spiritual faculties have become inactive for lack of exercise. Learn to enjoy this quiet hour, and cultivate the development of your spiritual powers. It is in this manner that the great spiritual athletes have gained their strength, their wisdom and their simplicities, have become fit instruments for the Spirit.
If you are pressed for time, yet give a few moments; but make it a point to keep faith with this new practice by providing ahead for the required time. Carry in your mind each day the thought of your rendezvous with God and you will gradually, unconsciously, clear the deck for it by assembling all that you require to resume your silent communion with Spirit and getting rid of all cumbersome or disorderly material.
You will thus gradually learn to live constantly in the presence of God and to look forward with all the eagerness of a lover for the hour of your tryst. There will ensue a cleansing process by which your thoughts will be purified into a divine aspect, and you will grow into a consciousness in which it will be natural for you to think constructively, to be imbued with goodness, sweetness, love. Evil will drop away from you, worldly companions will leave you alone, new friends will come into your life and new activities to express God-thought in you will demand satisfaction. You will not be aware of it for a while but eventually you will recognize the fact that you are being recreated, made anew, in health, peace, power, prosperity and happiness. You will possess the peace that passeth understanding and will know that all is yours that God intends you to have and to enjoy.
Then your own healing will have been completed, and, if you will, you can take up the healing of others. Having learned the effectual prayer, having in the Silence been retaught in a new manner adapted to your individual requirements all that we have so far given you, you may be ready to go on to demonstrations that will confirm you forever in your discipleship.
The old method of prayer, by recitation of set forms of prayers, conflicts with the true conception of prayer, the method of which was set forth by Jesus as a retiring into one’s inner self and a union of the mind with Divine Mind.
Prayer is an opening of the mind upward to receive what God is willing to give. It is the medium through which spiritual medicine is given. It is a natural instinct of the soul and it is a part of the Divine plan that we should find relief in it.
The true prayer is Contemplation, in which we meditate upon what we are, upon the omnipresence and omnipotence of God, on what we need and aspire to, and upon God’s promises to those who seek Him in this manner. In this manner our lives are hid with Christ in God.
We can be certain of God’s co-operation, for after adopting the practice of meditation we discover the entrance into our lives and affairs of many new things and become conscious of radical changes in ourselves. We develop a new state of mind and new qualities of action, attract helpful friends, drop those that are not necessary to us and are inspired by new and glowing mental images.
How to approach the hour of the Silence and how to develop thought therein are explained, with a presentation of some facts about “concentration.” The process of self-healing sets in and we learn how the healing of others may be effected. Herein is the test of the spiritually-minded and to adopt this method of prayer is to enter upon the Way.
PRACTICE IN DIVINE SCIENCE
Methods Recommended for Putting Into Daily Application
THE TEACHINGS OF TRUTH
“It is not the speech that counts
But the impulse that goes with the saying.
It is not the words of a prayer
But the yearning back of the praying.”
“He prayeth best who loveth best, all things both great and small.”
(Memorize and Repeat Often)
“Speak to Him then, for He heareth,
When spirit with Spirit doth meet;
Closer is He than breathing,
And nearer than hands or than feet.”
“The Realm of Reality,” Chapter XVIII. [Online at this website]
“Astor Lectures,” pages 60-72. [Online at this website]
Health, Prosperity, Protection
The order and Harmony of the Christ Consciousness, established in me throughout all eternity, is expressing itself now as perfect Health.
The vitalizing energy of the Holy Spirit is circulating freely through every artery of my being, strengthening and invigorating me.
That Omnipresent Opulence which is God is now expressing Itself in and through me in terms of Unlimited Abundance.
The Lord, the everlasting Truth Sustains me; Divine Love alone governs me, and I reflect its government, in Peace, Power, Purity, Prosperity, Perfection of Mind and Body.
2. What is prayer?
3. What is the true form of prayer?
4. How can we be certain of God’s co-operation?
5. How does prayer in the Silence develop for us a new state of mind?
6. To what form of training do you compare spiritual development in the Silence?
7. What are we to consider as to “concentration”?
8. Of what is the practice of prayer in the Silence a test?
The Murray Course in Divine Science
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