Episode:Prayer—Nature and Evolution (Part 3)

From Symmetry of Soul

The first prayers were merely verbalized wishes, the expression of sincere desires. Prayer next became a technique of achieving spirit co-operation. And then it attained to the higher function of assisting religion in the conservation of all worth-while values. But the truest prayer is in reality a communion between man and his Maker.

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Keywords: Urantia, Prayer, Ignorance, Superstition, Magic

Summary by Kermit

with final edits by Ann

Paper 91:1. Primitive Prayer

Conservation and augmentation of primitive man’s social, moral, and spiritual values is the function of early evolutionary religion. Prayer is the agency by which this is effected. Thus are the efforts of current day secularists in their striving for freedom of and from religion so pernicious. These efforts are focused on eliminating prayer from the social arena in the name of separation of church and state. Such separation on an institutional level is altogether well and good. But the lengths to which the secularists have gone and continue to go are wittingly or unwittingly leading towards the separation of man and God. Such a development is ultimately destructive of civilization and constitutes one element of the emergency for which the fifth epochal revelation was given to this planet.

The Supreme Creators in their supreme wisdom provided for the integration of the instinct to pray from the earliest times of evolving man. This wired-in aspect of our nature served to establish prayer as a primal civilizer, prior to the appearance of magic. Religion, along with prayer, is associated with socially acceptable and approved ends. Magic became the tool for the gratification of baser emotions and the achievement of selfish ambitions. Therefore did prayer promote the triad of social evolution, moral progress, and spiritual attainment.

Simple–minded primitive man recognized the benefits of material goods and circumstances for the social welfare, and thus saw no inconsistency in praying for them. Even though this constituted a perversion of prayer and debased their spiritual values, such materialistic praying encouraged man’s efforts to realize these material objectives by socially acceptable methods thereby leading directly to the elevation of their economic, social, and ethical mores. Note that this material needs to be interpreted in light of current day realities and not merely in a historical context. The revelators are talking about US! Our economic, social, and ethical mores today are relatively elevated, but the continued prostitution and perversion of prayer to material ends serves to underscore the aforementioned emergency.

True prayer appears when it becomes personal. Prayer transcends magic when the human mind recognizes that the reality of beneficent powers or beings who are able to enhance social values and augment moral ideals are superhuman and distinct from the self (ego) and his fellows. Note, it is when personality becomes engaged (spirit pattern) that prayer attains the spiritual.

There is a danger that prayer may lead to a morbid sense of sin, fostering guilt, real or fancied, in mortals held in the primitive bondage of fear. Introducing fear into the realm of real spirit energy (prayer) runs the risk of self-disruption (evil), not just self-confusion (error). And from evil it’s not even a hop, skip, and a jump to sin. Even fancied guilt when mixed with spirit energy can be dangerous. Ironically, modern man (secular man) is not likely to spend sufficient time in such prayer as to constitute a serious threat to himself or society. So it is that fear, when aroused by the vulnerabilities of life in the realm of the material, becomes such a huge stumbling block. The Mater’s command was “Fear Not!” The real guilt resulting from either interrupted spiritual communion or the lowering of one’s highest ideals, are ameliorated by remembering that your highest ideals aren’t necessarily synonymous with the will of God [103:4, p.1133]. Further, the fancied guilt stemming from the recognition of your state of imperfection can be antidoted by recognizing, and realizing that you are good because you are perfecting.

91:2. Evolving Prayer

We took a small aside to clarify the authors’ use of the term ego throughout the revelation. Historically, the word has been used in the realm of philosophy to indicate more than simply the self, but the self aware. The revelators use the term in this way, but also in another way as in egotistical, or self-centered. In the field of psychoanalysis, the ego is used in conjunction with the threefold structure of so-called personality, as the:

  • ID = subconscious,
  • EGO = conscious aware state, and
  • SUPER EGO = social imperatives and mores.

Another model offered aligns the six levels of meaning with the threefold psychoanalytic structure of the so-called personality.

As previously mentioned, prayer was so constructed as to avoid its blurring with magic. But magic reportedly has ascended to the threshold of true prayer by goal elevation. And certainly, the materialistic prayer, seeking divine help to avoid the rigorous demands of material problems, is predominant among today’s religionists. The descent of prayer to pseudomagic is no more evident than in the current day use of prayer in Jesus’ name to obtain whatever you ask for. Scripture unfortunately reinforces such a practice.

How long will it take the world of believers to understand that prayer is not a process of getting your way but rather a program of taking God's way, an experience of learning how to recognize and execute the Father's will? It is entirely true that, when your will has been truly aligned with his, you can ask anything conceived by that will-union, and it will be granted.” [180:2.4, p. 1946]

...the doing of the will of God is nothing more or less than an exhibition of creature willingness to share the inner life with God.” [111:5.1, p. 1221]

We are further reminded that even his apostles could not recognize that prayer is a function of spirit-born believers in the spirit dominated kingdom. [180:2.7, p. 1946]

So much of our modern difficulty lies in man’s failure to discriminate between the material and spiritual as concerns the province of prayer. This magical-material mode is so primitive as to tie us to the indispensables of early civilization: war, slavery, social classes, and the profit motive, instead of those of advancing civilization: true religion, true monogamy, prayer, and God consciousness. Did I hear anyone say emergency?

Favor seeking represents an advance in prayer as man learned that God cannot be coerced, but the truest prayer is communion between man and his Maker, rather than communication with his Maker.

Material sacrifices in place of offering your own consecration to doing God’s will certainly detracts from the higher efficacy of true prayer.

In the absence of a personal God, prayer only attains the level of theology or philosophy. The impersonal God of pantheistic idealism can only afford a form of mystic communion, but the potency of true prayer is found in man’s communion with a personal and superior God. Mystic communion, while partaking of a spiritual quality (unity), is missing the triune completeness of cosmic reality.

Even today, the average mortal’s prayer life consists in his communication with his subconscious. However, it is to the superconscious realm, the domain of the Thought Adjuster that intellectually aware and spiritually progressive individuals can ascend in prayer.

Prayer is so important to the evolutionary development of the religious sentiment and the prevention of isolation of personality, while it also serves to bridge evolutionary religion with the higher religions of ethical excellence, the religions of revelation. Prayer starts at the crudest beginnings and progresses to the most refined ends of human experience.