How Shall We Pray?
SHALL we say: "Father, give me this Father, do for me that!"?
Or shall we say: "Behold, I am perfect! Imperfection, sin
and suffering are only errors of mortal mind!"?
Or shall we pray: "Father, give me of Thy strength that I
may live in harmony with Thy law, for thus only will all good
come to me!"?
The first way is to beg, the second, to steal, the third, to earn
by honest effort.
give me this!"--"Father do for me that!"
Thus prayed our fathers, not understanding the great law of compensation,
the law of giving and receiving, which demands that we give an
equivalent for everything we receive. To receive without giving
is to beg.
The lily, in return for the nourishment it receives from the soil
and the sun, gives its beauty and fragrance. The birds of the
air give a return for their sustenance by their songs, their beauty
of plumage, and by destroying worms and insects, the enemies of
plants and men. Every living thing gives an equivalent for its
existence in some way or other.
With Man, the fulfillment of the law of service and of compensation
becomes conscious and voluntary, and his self-respect refuses
to take without giving.
I am perfect! Imperfection, sin, and suffering are only errors
of mortal mind!" Such is the prayer of certain metaphysical
To assume the possession of goodness and perfection without an
earnest effort to develop and to deserve these qualities, means
to steal the glory of the only Perfect One. The assumption of
present perfection precludes the necessity of striving and laboring
for its attainment. If I am already all goodness, all love, all
wisdom, and all power, what remains for me to strive for?
Herein lies the danger of metaphysical idealism. While it may
dispel pessimism, fear, and anxiety, it inevitably weakens the
will power and the capacity for self-help and personal effort.
The ideal of the metaphysician is the ideal of the animal. The
animal does not worry about right or wrong, nor, with few exceptions,
does it make provision for the future. Its care and forethought
extend only to the next meal. But this perfect, ideal, passive
trust in Nature's bounty causes the animal to remain animal and
prevents its rising above the narrow limitations of habit and
The inherent faculties, capacities, and powers of the human soul
can be developed only by effort and use. The savage, living in
the most favored regions of the earth, depending for his sustenance
in perfect faith and trust on Nature's never-failing bounty, has
remained savage. Through ages he has risen but little above the
level of the beasts that perish.
The great law of use ordains that those faculties and powers which
we do not develop remain in abeyance, and that those which we
possess weaken and atrophy if we fail to exercise them.
The Master, Jesus, emphasized this law of use in many of his parables
whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more
abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away
even that he hath."
What does this mean? Those who have the desire and the will to
work out their own salvation, acquire greater knowledge and power
in exact proportion to their well-directed efforts; but those
who have neither the desire nor the will to help themselves, lose
their natural endowments and the possibilities and opportunities
which these would have conferred upon them.
The anatomy and physiology of the human brain reveal the fact
that for every voluntary faculty, capacity, and power of body,
mind, and soul which we wish to develop, we have to create new
cells and centers in the brain. In this respect, Nature gives
us no more and no less than we deserve and work for. If we "try
to cheat" by usurping the perfection and the power which
we have not honestly earned and developed, then sometime, somewhere
we shall have to "square the balance. "
Right Way to Pray
After all, the only true prayer is personal effort and self-help.
This does not mean that we should not invoke the help of the Higher
Powers, of those who have gone before us, of the Great Friends
and Invisible Helpers, and of the Great Father, the giver of all
life, all wisdom, and all power. But we should pray for
strength to do our work, not to have it done for us.
The wise parent will not do for the child the home tasks assigned
him at school. Neither will the powers on high or the Great Friends
perform our allotted tasks for us.
This life is a school for personal effort. If it were not so,
life would be meaningless. From the cradle to
the grave,, our days are one continuous effort to learn, to acquire,
to overcome difficulties. Only in this way can we develop our
latent faculties, capacities, and powers. These cannot be developed
by having our tasks done for us, nor by assuming that we already
know and possess everything.
The athlete must do his own training. No one else can do it for
him. The assumption of superiority over his opponent
will riot develop his suppleness of body and strength of muscle.
To be sure, faith and courage are essential to -victory, but they
must be backed by careful and persistent training. Vainglorious
boasting alone will not win the contest.
So in the battle of life, the more faith we have in God, in the
Great Friends, and in our own powers, the wider do we open ourselves
to the inflow of wisdom and strength from all that is good and
true and powerful in the universe. But through persistent and
welldirected effort alone can we control the powers and fashion
the materials which Nature has so lavishly bestowed upon us.
The creative will, actuated by desire and enlightened by reason,
brings order and harmony out of chaotic forces and materials.
And yet certain metaphysicians tell us that we ourselves must
do nothing to overcome weakness, sin, and suffering, that we must
depend entirely upon the efficiency of metaphysical formulas,
that the deity and the powers of Nature are jealous of our personal
efforts, that we must not try to help ourselves lest we forfeit
their good will.
Is it not blasphemous to assume that God would blame us and withhold
his aid because we dared to use the faculties, capacities, and
powers with which he has endowed us? You say, "Nobody is
foolish enough to claim such things." But this is the teaching
of a powerful healing-cult. Its members are forbidden, on penalty
of expulsion, to use in the treatment of human ailments the most
innocent natural remedies. The giving of an enema, or the common-sense
regulation of diet are regarded as sufficient to nullify the power
of their metaphysical formulas and to prevent the working of Nature's
One of our patients who had been under such treatment until she
was in a dying condition, told us afterwards that her bowels often
did not move for a week, and that, when she complained to her
"healer" about this condition and asked permission to
take an enema, he answered her: "Pay no attention. The Lord
is taking care of that in some other way."
The man who said this had been a prominent allopathic physician
before he turned "healer." He, too, like so many others
ignorant of Nature's simple laws, had swung from one extreme to
the other, from allopathic overdoing to metaphysical underdoing.
In this instance, the Lord "took care" of the patient's
bowels until she was taken down with a severe attack of appendicitis
all the extremes, Nature Cure points the common-sense middle way.
Basing its teachings and its practices on a clear understanding
of the laws of health, disease, and cure, it refrains from suppressing
acute diseases with poisonous drugs or the knife, realizing that
they are in reality Nature's cleansing and healing efforts. Neither
does it sit idly by and expect the Lord, or metaphysical formulas,
or the medicine bottle and the knife, to do our work and to make
good for our violations of Nature's laws.
Understanding the Law, Nature Cure believes in cooperating with
the law; in giving the Lord a helping hand. It teaches that "God
helps him who helps himself," that He will not become angry
and refuse His help if His children use rightly the reason, the
willpower, and the self-control with which he has endowed them,
so that they may achieve their own salvation.
Nature Cure from beginning to end is one grand, true prayer. It
teaches The Law on all planes of being, the physical, the mental,
the moral, and the spiritual; and it insists that the only way
to attain perfect health of body, mind, and soul is to comply
with the law to the best of our ability. When we do that,
we place ourselves in allgnment with the constructive principle
in Nature, and in exact proportion to our intelligent and voluntary
co-operation with the laws of our being, all good things will
come to us.
Therefore we pray: "Father, give me of Thy strength that
I may live in harmony with Thy law, for thus only will all good
come to me."