They who would receive mercy must show mercy; judge not that you be not judged. With the spirit with which you judge others you also shall be judged. Mercy does not wholly abrogate universe fairness. In the end it will prove true: “Whoso stops his ears to the cry of the poor, he also shall some day cry for help, and no one will hear him.” The sincerity of any prayer is the assurance of its being heard; the spiritual wisdom and universe consistency of any petition is the determiner of the time, manner, and degree of the answer. A wise father does not literally answer the foolish prayers of his ignorant and inexperienced children, albeit the children may derive much pleasure and real soul satisfaction from the making of such absurd petitions.
When you have become wholly dedicated to the doing of the will of the Father in heaven, the answer to all your petitions will be forthcoming because your prayers will be in full accordance with the Father’s will, and the Father’s will is ever manifest throughout his vast universe. What the true son desires and the infinite Father wills IS. Such a prayer cannot remain unanswered, and no other sort of petition can possibly be fully answered.
The cry of the righteous is the faith act of the child of God which opens the door of the Father’s storehouse of goodness, truth, and mercy, and these good gifts have long been in waiting for the son’s approach and personal appropriation. Prayer does not change the divine attitude toward man, but it does change man’s attitude toward the changeless Father. The motive of the prayer gives it right of way to the divine ear, not the social, economic, or outward religious status of the one who prays.
Prayer may not be employed to avoid the delays of time or to transcend the handicaps of space. Prayer is not designed as a technique for aggrandizing self or for gaining unfair advantage over one’s fellows. A thoroughly selfish soul cannot pray in the true sense of the word. “Let your supreme delight be in the character of God, and he shall surely give you the sincere desires of your heart.” “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” “For the Lord hears the cry of the needy, and he will regard the prayer of the destitute.”
“I have come forth from the Father; if, therefore, you are ever in doubt as to what you would ask of the Father, ask in my name, and I will present your petition in accordance with your real needs and desires and in accordance with my Father’s will.” Guard against the great danger of becoming self-centered in your prayers. Avoid praying much for yourself; pray more for the spiritual progress of your brethren. Avoid materialistic praying; pray in the spirit and for the abundance of the gifts of the spirit.
When you pray for the sick and afflicted, do not expect that your petitions will take the place of loving and intelligent ministry to the necessities of these afflicted ones. Pray for the welfare of your families, friends, and fellows, but especially pray for those who curse you, and make loving petitions for those who persecute you. “But when to pray, I will not say. Only the spirit that dwells within you may move you to the utterance of those petitions which are expressive of your inner relationship with the Father of spirits.”
Many resort to prayer only when in trouble. Such a practice is thoughtless and misleading. True, you do well to pray when harassed, but you should also be mindful to speak as a son to your Father even when all goes well with your soul. Let your real petitions always be in secret. Do not let men hear your personal prayers. Prayers of thanksgiving are appropriate for groups of worshipers, but the prayer of the soul is a personal matter. There is but one form of prayer which is appropriate for all God’s children, and that is: “Nevertheless, your will be done.”
All believers in this gospel should pray sincerely for the extension of the kingdom of heaven. Do you remember the scripture that states: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Purge me from secret sins and keep back your servant from presumptuous transgression.” “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” “The human tongue is a member which few men can tame, but the spirit within can transform this unruly member into a kindly voice of tolerance and an inspiring minister of mercy.”
The prayer for divine guidance over the pathway of earthly life is next in importance to the petition for a knowledge of the Father’s will. In reality this means a prayer for divine wisdom.
Prayer is a factor in the enlargement of one’s capacity to receive the presence of the divine spirit. Pray in the spirit and in truth. Pray sincerely and in accordance with your enlightenment. Pray wholeheartedly and intelligently, earnestly and steadfastly.
Remember the scripture that says, “It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to the name of the Most High, to acknowledge his loving-kindness every morning and his faithfulness every night, for God has made me glad through his work. In everything I will give thanks according to the will of God.”
“Be not constantly overanxious about your common needs. Be not apprehensive concerning the problems of your earthly existence, but in all these things by prayer and supplication, with the spirit of sincere thanksgiving, let your needs be spread out before your Father who is in heaven.” “I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify him with thanksgiving. And this will please the Lord better than the sacrifice of an ox or bullock with horns and hoofs.”
Once you have made your prayers to the Father, you should remain for a time in silent receptivity to afford the indwelling spirit the better opportunity to speak to the listening soul. The spirit of the Father speaks best to man when the human mind is in an attitude of true worship. We worship God by the aid of the Father’s indwelling spirit and by the illumination of the human mind through the ministry of truth. Worship makes one increasingly like the being who is worshiped. Worship is a transforming experience whereby the finite gradually approaches and ultimately attains the presence of the Infinite.