Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

edge that the one crying need of the world is for holy lives, that the sanctified are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, that they are opened channels for God's Spirit to flow into other lives, that they are dynamic as is nothing else on earth for determining the forces that shall shape human events and human development; in a word, that sanctification is the secret of true social service, the divine means for bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.

This brings us to the second aspect of prayer: on the one hand, it is the primary condition for perfecting the union of the finite will with the Infinite, on the other, it is the finite will co-operating with the divine will to bring to pass God's purposes in the realm He has allotted to human freedom and creatorship.

That is not prayer which has not as its ground and first condition this threefold principle: "Father, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done." Any petition, any attitude of mind and will, counter to that principle is an attempt or a desire to change or thwart the perfect will of God, tending to prevent the fulfilment of His holy purposes for men. When we speak of prayer, then, we speak of an attitude of mind that wants first God's will, as the sum of all good for the one who prays and for those for whom one prays. Wherever there is that attitude, the will of God and the will of man work together and become an effective cause in mundane events.

We are most used to thinking of the wills of men when issuing in outward acts as a cause that affects the sequence of events. We are not used to thinking of that form of activity of the will that is prayer as having the same power. Prayer has that same power; but it operates on a higher plane than other activities of the will and has a correspondingly more far-reaching effectiveness.

Many years of the study and practice of prayer as a

healing agency has convinced the writer that, as a therapeutic at least, prayer must be correlated with telepathy; that it is the fact, and can be shown to be the fact, that in prayer, conditioned by responsiveness to the will of God and by the "name of Jesus Christ,"—that is, by harmony with the purpose, method, and meaning of the Incarnation, the human brain may be made a source of radiant energy that directly affects other organisms along the lines of God's loving purposes.

Whether or not this belief is correct, the direction in which we must look for an answer to the question, How does God answer prayer? is to the way in which man's will, when united with God's will, becomes causally effective in the sphere of human creatorship. In saying this, we do indeed include all the ways in which a man's will can effectively operate: direct speech and action, every manifestation of moral strength and religious conviction, the manifold ways in which the developed personality— and nothing developes the personality like prayer-impresses itself on others, all these form part of the prayerlife, and, by affecting others' minds and wills, help to shape God's answers to prayer. Yet all these form but the penumbra of the causal effectiveness of prayer. Prayer is pre-eminently an exercise of the will. It is the individual will in supreme self-realization. For it is finite will actively, intensely, creatively responsive to, blending with, following hard upon, the divine will, which is its inspiration, its dynamic root, its vital core. And the will of a man in this supreme form of activity, alive, intense, lifted above self, voluntarily blended with the divine, and in that blending divinely sublimated and potentialized, becomes a cause, an active energy in the world, by which 'more things are wrought than this world dreams of,' to bring to pass the will of God amidst the confused affairs, the

heedless purposes, the rebellious wills of those whom God has made for himself, and who will know no rest till they find rest in Him. All true prayer, prayer that puts God's will first, is effective in this way. But its effectiveness increases in proportion as the one who prays learns the great lesson of sanctification. This lesson is escape from selfwill, entire identification of one's longings and desires with the purposes of God, complete, unhesitating responsiveness of one's whole being to His Holy Spirit. Here is the plane where prayer indeed prevails; here its answers are manifest and constant. It is the plane of prevailing, answered prayer for the reason that upon this plane the ends one prays for are divinely given; the will's activity springs from the immediate moving of God upon the heart of His child to mediate and further some purpose of His own in the affairs of mankind, where the divine purposes wait upon the cooperation of His children.

Judging from the practice of the greatest saints, the loftiest form of prayer renders the human will a wideopen channel, a ready instrument, an organ attuned and responsive, lying perfectly-but by no means passivelyin the hand of God. In this ultimate mode of prayer the individual comes to prayer, perhaps, with certain ends in mind, which, should they accord with God's will, he would have his prayer further. But in the spiritual exercise that follows-on this highest plane-he holds no particular persons or petitions in mind, directs his will towards no specific ends or accomplishments, but instead casts everything particular, specific, individual, upon the Almighty Heart, loses himself there, and lets God flow through him, lets God's hand grip and use him, lets God's Spirit send forth what harmonious streams of divine energy He will, from the attuned, surrendered, and yet supremely active nature. The child of God who can pray thus makes his

praying such a factor in effecting the answer to the prayer of all prayers, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," as surpasses all other forms of human activity and endeavor whatsoever. It is prayer on this plane that evidences the literal truth of the astounding assertions of Scripture: "If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be made full."

As the field of prayer is the sphere of human freedom, it follows that the special function of prayer is to bend human wills in the direction of God's purposes. This it does by affecting immediately human minds and hearts, to quicken men's ideals, to inspire righteous or holy purposes within them, to open their souls to divine influences, to make vital this or the other train of thought, thus moulding those human decisions on which conduct and destiny turn.

It is through this power of prayer-most real but most rarely perceived-thus to deflect and direct human wills, which means power to determine human events and destiny, that the great body of prayer attains its answers. It is to be noted, that we are quite unable to define the limits within which man's freedom has part in determining events; nor do we know at all how far our own powers and possibilities extend. We may not say, Here lies the bound within which man counts as free creator, beyond which in creative activity he shall never go. In view of this uncertainty as to the limits God has placed on man's creatorship, it is possible to believe—and it is the writer's belief that prayer can affect not only other human wills, nor only the symptoms of living, responsive organisms, but also natural events, such as the coming of rain, storms at sea, the course of plagues, and so forth; while yet holding

the central thesis of this paper to be exactly true: that the field of prayer is the sphere divinely allotted to human freedom. We can believe this for the reason that the Incarnation through Jesus Christ our Lord revealed not only true Godhead but true manhood, both the actualities of Deity and the potentialities of man; that in Him we see what powers inhere in full human personality-powers of which we have as yet but a glimmering conception; and that as we sinners become more truly sons of God we shall discover that human freedom, when attuned perfectly to the divine purposes, has powers of direction and control both over other minds and bodies and over natural forces of which our Lord's sovereignty was the glorious forecast and promise. Thus it is that we can believe literally in the truth of His words: "The works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to the Father."

L

The Church's Executive System

REV. WILLIAM MILLER GAMBLE.

AST April, in the Church Monthly, appeared an article by the Reverend Theodore Haydn, in which were implied or expressed most of the misgivings and criticisms which have recently been expressed about the Council plan, inaugurated in the American Church. All these objections might be summed up under two general and sweeping charges: First, that the Executive System of the Church is radically unsafe and unsound as a Church business policy. Second, that its general spirit, and that of the campaign that it embodied, puts human machinery in the place of the methods of God's Spirit, and is therefore worldly, not to say idolatrous.

« AnteriorContinuar »