Episode:Prayer—Nature and Evolution (Part 5)
Prayer has been an indispensable factor in the progress and preservation of religious civilization; as a feature of Deity worship, it leads to the cultivation of divine ideals. And prayer need not always be individual. Group or congregational praying is very effective in that it is highly socializing in its repercussions.
Summary by Kermit
(final edits by Ann)
Paper 91:5 Social Repercussions of Prayer
The evolutionary progression of prayer, from ancestor worship to Deity worship and the concomitant elevation of the concept of the alter ego of prayer to levels of the supreme and the divine, signals the elevation of man’s ideals from the merely human toward the divine, all of which leads to the enhancement of human character and unification of human personality.
Note the worship of Deity instead of God emphasizes the idea of communion in contrast with communication (adoration). Because of the evolutionary nature of prayer, we can begin to appreciate the contextual value it brings to human progress, even to the point of conferring relative value on practices which on their face might be judged from an existential perspective as flat out bad.
Group prayer is highly socializing in its repercussions. Confession, repentance, and prayer have led individuals, cities, nations, and whole races to mighty efforts of reform and courageous deeds of valorous achievement. In our nation’s origins, group prayer was practiced and became part of our traditions. The Thanksgiving holiday and the National Day of Prayer were thus cited. Part of the emergency resulting in the fifth epochal revelation (5th ER) being given to our world is found in the militant secularists’ efforts to banish the National Day of Prayer and remove prayer from the public arena of national expression. In response to this pernicious campaign we are called upon to simply lay hold of these already existing traditions and practices and revitalize them as opposed to waging cultural war with these secularists.
We examined the technique of using prayer as a way to overcome the habit of criticizing a friend. The social repercussion depend on two conditions. The prayee should know they are being prayed for, and the prayER should come into intimate contact with the prayee.
Note that the true benefit here has more to do with the beneficent personal connection of the two individuals. Thus the prayer instinct in man thus ripens and induces man to inner reformation and social service.
We next discussed the role of prayer in the institutionalization of religion. We addressed some of the negative connotations as well as beneficial results of such institutionalization. On the positive side, institutionalization is part of evolution, the Father’s Way. Religion would not have survived if it had been limited to the private practice of individuals. We are advised to reform our religious institutions rather than eliminate them. [97:10, p. 1076]. On the negative side there are numerous, in the words of our author, decidedly deleterious secondary agencies that have been associated with prayer including priests, holy books, worship rituals, and ceremonials. The author’s use of these words (decidedly deleterious) denotes a level of damage exceeding in negativity the self-disruptive level of evil.
In confronting these evils, those of greater spiritual illumination are admonished to exercise patience and tolerance towards those who crave the symbolism provided by institutions of religion to mobilize their feeble spiritual insight. We did agree, however, that institutionally designating the 5th ER as a holy book is to be avoided!
In finishing this section we discussed the problems of adopting an “anti-evil” approach to any of the deleterious aspects of the primitive religious practices we encounter. The cosmic physics of being anti-evil works detrimentally on its practitioners. The person of immature spiritual consciousness notices the stark contrast between spiritual ideals and the state of imperfection of the external world. Being unable to appreciate the experiential relative value of evolutionary phenomena, the immature religionist perceives this stark contrast as a dichotomy and feels compelled to try to eradicate the offending phenomenon by becoming ANTI-whatever. Since the Father’s way is wholly positive, the perceived evil, having no objective existence, is given form in the mind of our ANTI-whatever adherent, thus rendering him worse off than before, and most vulnerable to becoming self-righteous. As has been mentioned before there is NO objective force for bad in the universe.
6. The Province of Prayer
Here we encounter again the contrast between the material and spiritual in the realm of prayer. The revelation is quite clear that prayer is not a technique for curing real and organic diseases. Further that prayer can have no direct effect on one’s physical environment. There exists no material magic! However, we know that there can be indirect effects of the mindal and spiritual energy of prayer and focused awareness on all sorts of phenomena.
Prayer and its association with the miracle is addressed in comments about supposed miracles at the Bethsaida hospital encampment. The midwayers instruct us that the apparent miraculous recovery experienced by many of the sick who were treated there “...were only just such transformations of mind and spirit as may occur in the experience of expectant and faith-dominated persons who are under the immediate and inspirational influence of a strong, positive, and beneficent personality whose ministry banishes fear and destroys anxiety.[148:2.2, p. 1658]
It should be noted that along with the indirect effects of mind which can result through the dynamics of prayer, spirit energy is even more potent in its effects. To think about these things scientifically or technically doesn’t usually serve as an adequate symbol for the immature, but prayer serves as an effective symbol in this way. In the revelation we are given true information concerning the laws governing mind and spirit enabling us to see these things objectively and not just symbolically.
Even though prayer is not directly responsible for many of the positive effects attributed to it, the sincere prayer of faith is a mighty force for the promotion of personal happiness, individual self-control, social harmony, moral progress, and spiritual attainment.
Even as a purely human (evolutionary) practice, prayer constitutes an efficient approach to the reserve powers of human nature resident in the unconscious realms of the human mind. Seek not for God to solve your difficulties, but fail not to seek His wisdom and spiritual strength while you exercise courage in meeting the problems before you.
Prayer has been and promises to continue as a factor in the enhancement and spiritualization of human society when practiced in light of scientific facts, philosophic wisdom, intellectual sincerity and spiritual faith; and performed honestly, unselfishly, with fairness and without doubting.
And prayer thus contributes to the enhancement of personal experience regardless of the worshiper’s intellectual understanding, social level, cultural status, or other mortal acquirements. There is no other technique whereby every person can so effectively and immediately approach entrance to the realm of communication with his Maker and contact with the reality of the Creator—the indwelling Adjuster.