Belief, Faith & Prayer
December 5, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Belief, Faith & Prayer by Ernest Holmes
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up (James 5:15). What, then, is the prayer of faith?
Jesus clearly taught that Spiritual Power works through man at the level of his belief, implying that it would work as he believed and while he believed. He ascribed a mighty power to belief and to faith, and we find that throughout the ages faith has been honored. Most certainly some people’s prayers have been answered, but not all person’s prayers have been answered in the way in which they wished them to be answered.
How are we going to account for the fact that one person’s prayers are answered and another’s are not? Must we admit that there are degrees in which prayers are answered? And if so, why? Is one man’s faith better than another’s? Is God more pleased with one man’s petition than another’s?
It seems a pretty tough problem, until we understand what Jesus meant when he said, Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.
What did he imply? He implied that it is done unto us by some impersonal Principle, a Principle which knows neither Jew nor Gentile, but knows only Its own ability to do. It will do as quickly for one as for another. The Law is no respecter of persons but works alike for each and all.
Jesus not only said, So be it done unto thee. He said, As thou hast believed. The impersonal Law, which is the actor, does it unto us, but only as we believe. Immediately we recognize our old friend the Law of Cause and Effect.
It is done unto us as we believe, and if we can believe only a little, then only what we call a little is done. But if we believe in what the consensus of human opinion has called a lot, then a lot is done. Not that there is a big or little in the Truth, but that we measure it.
Well did the Great Teacher say, With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. It is done unto us, but only as we believe.
What is belief? Most surely belief is a certain way of thinking; it is an activity of consciousness. Belief is a thing of thought, and being a thing of thought we can change belief. And if what a man believes decides what is going to happen to him, the most important thing for him to do is regulate his belief so that what happens will be good for him, and he will be glad to have it happen, and joyously welcome it.
What is most likely to change our belief from a negative to a positive viewpoint? What thought, what hope, what expression, what stimulus is most likely to change our belief? This Jesus established in the Sermon
on the Mount when he said that the meek shall inherit the earth; that the peacemakers shall be called the children of God. In other statements he showed us how to reform our belief so that it could partake of the nature of Reality and would contain within itself everything necessary for our well-being. This is also what the Apostle meant when he said that we should think on whatsoever things are good, true, and beautiful.
Faith is an affirmative mode of thought. Faith says, “I can”, rather than “I cannot” or “I shall not”. We can learn to have faith in abundance rather than in poverty. We can change our thought in regard to lack. This is what treatment (deb’s note – treatment is a specialized kind of prayer in Holmes philosophical system) is for. Instead of saying, “There is not enough good to go around”, we say, “All the power there is, is devoted to my good. I am not afraid of poverty because all the power there is, is devoted to giving me abundance. God provides me with every good thing today, every day, always.” Such statements as these will change our belief from denial to one of positive faith. Whatever we can have faith in, and having faith in, can understand, we may experience according to the Law of Cause and Effect. This Law is immutable, invariable, unassailable, and absolute.
“But”, someone might ask, “is faith in lack equal to faith in abundance?” The answer to this question is that there is neither lack nor abundance, as such; there is merely what is and the way it works. We are so constituted that faith in love overcomes the belief in hate. Our nature is such that faith in life destroys our fear of death. Our nature is such that faith routs all fear along the line. The great affirmations of life must, of necessity, destroy their apparent opposites.
Nevertheless we cannot overlook the fact that all statements are positive, all statements are affirmations, since each is a statement of one’s belief in something.
Right here is where prayer comes in, and of course we are thinking of prayer in its broadest connotation and its most realistic meaning. We are thinking of prayer as the communion of the soul with the Oversoul, with the Divine Creative Presence which is not only in the soul but which is the soul. It is more than an
individualization; it is also a Universality.
Prayer in its truest sense is not a petition, not a supplication, not a wail of despair; it is rather an alignment, a unifying process which takes place in the mind as it reaches to its Divine Self and to that Power which is
greater than human understanding. In the act of such prayerful and reverent communion with God one senses the Unity of Good, the completeness of Life, and at times the veil of doubt is lifted and the face of Reality appears. This consciousness, which has been referred to as the Secret Place of the Most High, is an experience rising out of the conviction that God is all there is, beside Whom there is none else.
Prayer, then, is communion, and this communion pronounces life to be Good.
Prayerful communion ascends to that place where unity has not yet become variety, where the unformed One is ready to take any specific shape.
In this act of communion the individual becomes co-partner with the Eternal and gives birth to time, space, and conditions.
But what could Jesus have meant when he referred to fasting in connection with prayer? It seems evident that he was not necessarily referring to a physical fact, for one of the accusations laid against him was that he drank wine with sinners. He was also accused of breaking the Sabbath by permitting his disciples to pluck corn on the Sabbath day. In fact he seemed to disregard many of the outward forms which were common in his day. He referred to some deeper Principle which physical fasting was intended to symbolize.
This is what he meant when he said that it was not sufficient to make the outside of the platter clean, and again when he said, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps by fasting and prayer Jesus meant such a complete consecration to the ideal that the Creative Genius of the Universe passed immediately into Self-expression through man’s imagination.
Such a high altitude of thought could not be described other than by using the symbol of fasting and prayer, and possibly that is why Jesus used it. Suppose we call fasting a determination to refuse further contemplation of the negative. This would be passing from death into life, from negation into affirmation,
from denial into acceptance. In this transformation of thought through faith and belief the communion of the soul with its Source would become a pronouncement rather than a petition. This is the position which the
enlightened of all ages have taken.
If a person feels that the act of physical fasting is necessary to the consummation of such a devout communion, let him fast, and no person should be so rash as to deny him this privilege. If, on the other hand, he feels that he is not fighting his way but singing a song, let no one deny him the joyous to freedom. For sooner or later all must discover that it is neither fasting nor feasting, but belief, faith, and acceptance which cause one to transcend the lesser good and ascend into that holy mount within where the eye views the world
We must never forget to make a practical application of this science. In our philosophy it is not enough merely to state a principle. We must apply such a principle to our everyday living, and wherever a need
appears we must meet it, not be accepting the inevitability of such a need but by affirming its exact opposite. The need is met when we no longer recognize it as a need but seeing through it envision that
Principle which could just as easily remold the need into an acceptance of good. Therefore we are told to think on whatsoever things are true, lovely, and of good report; we should dwell on these things rather than
on their apparent opposites.
To put this into practice should be the desire of every sincere seeker after spiritual truth. He must come to believe that there is such a Divine Power awaiting his use. He must fully understand that he is the one who knows how to use It and then he must proceed definitely to make use of this Power which is within all men. In actual practice one’s life should become a continuous communion with Good.
One’s mind should be continuously acknowledging the presence of Good and the Power of Good in one’s experience. A practitioner should acknowledge the Power and Presence of this Good in the experience of the one he seeks to help. For the acknowledgment of Good is a creative act making possible its manifestation in human experience. We should fast from the idea of lack and feast with the idea of plenty. We should from the idea of poverty and fastfeast upon the belief in wealth, and most surely we should abstain from contemplating uncertainties and enter into a long and eternal period of feasting upon certainty. And when the world cries, “Whither goest thou?” something within us should answer, “We know in whom we have believed.”
At first at fasting and feasting, this prayer and communion, may seem a little difficult.
What does all this mean other than that we should learn to have confidence in Life, to believe in Eternal Goodness, and to accept the Divine Bounty? This transformation of thought from negation to affirmation is seldom instantaneous, so one must maintain a flexibility of thought, being willing to bend somewhat before the storms of life but refusing to break. One’s thought should have an elasticitywhich permits it to spring back into place, but it cannot do so unlessit is first fully convinced that it does know in Whom it has believed,unless it is completely convinced that the Universe is a spiritualsystem governed by a Beneficent Consciousness.
This greater vision seldom transpires in one flash of consciousness, although it may do so. More often than not the ascent from our valley of negation to the mountaintop of realization is slow. But each step on the road entices us with the enchantment of a new vista, and, judging from past experiences and former transformations, the pathway upon which we travel leads to the summit and we press on with joy.
By some Divine interior awareness, call it what we will, there is an intuition within man which pushes him forward. There is some spark which has never been entirely extinguished. The prayer of faith and belief, communion of the soul with its Source, fans this spark into a Divine blaze in whose light dark shadows no longer lurk. This is inspiration. This is illumination. This is the perception of wholeness.
Suppose a man were to prepare himself a mental diet garnished with spiritual realization, his meat the living word, his bread manna from heaven, his fruit the inspiration of hope, and his wine the essence of joy. And
suppose in addition to this he should see this table spread before him in the wilderness and waited upon the Law, the servant of God and man, would he not then realize that he is today in the Kingdom of Heaven,
that today God is his Host, and would he not exclaim, “Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”
(note – the meaning of enow is enough, it is an archaic Middle English variant)
Source - Living the Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes, pgs 41-46