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IS THERE ANYTHING IN PRAYER ?

BY J. EDGAR PARK

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ONE of the earliest discoveries made quences. Worry, nervous disorders, deby the adventurer who dares to pene- pression, temptation, morbid mental trate into the land of Common Sense is conditions these are the names of that in that land mere wishing does not some of the results of unorganized, accomplish very much. Sundered lovers unsatisfied desires. A mother returns wished their hearts away for centuries, home on a sudden call, to find her child longing for the sound of the other's sick unto death. She immediately gets voice through the intervening miles of the best doctors and the best nurses, space. But all was of no avail until to and does all she can for his cure. At that wishing was added the minute last she has done all she is able to do. knowledge of electro-magnetism, which Can she then put the matter from her resulted in the invention of the tele mind and go to the movies? No, there phone.

remains, after she has done everything The longest road in the world is the possible for her child, a mass of desire road that lies between feeling and fact for that child's recovery which she has The road can be made passable only by not been able to work off into action. knowledge. Wishing is just the initial What is she to do with it? She may motive force designed to drive one to either

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into another room and worry seek the knowledge of the way. Pro- herself to death over the child, and thus cessions of longing, beseeching human make herself a prophet of death to the beings through plague-stricken cities, child and the whole household, or she imploring the removal of the curse, ef- may pray. Prayer is the control of the fected nothing until their desires were overflow of desire above that which can converted into patient investigation of be immediately transmuted into action. the causes and cure of plague. The pro- What then is her mental attitude in cessions were valuable in so far as they prayer? It has been largely represented incited and stung the lethargic scientific as that of a slave asking for a favor bemind into investigation and discovery. fore the throne of an oriental potentate. Wishing, looked upon as an end in it- 'I have done many favors for Thee in

'I self, is barren, but it is the initial stage the past. I have contributed to thy of all progress.

church, and attended thy services, and Desire, when it can be transmuted kept thy laws. Now I humbly ask, as a into action, is the joy of life. Desire, return for these offerings, the life of this when it cannot immediately be trans- child!' muted into action, is the basic problem Or it has been supposed that here is of literature, art, philosophy, and re- the one exception to the otherwise inexligion. What is to be done with it? orable principle that mere wishing does

Prayer is the organization of unsatis- not accomplish anything. She is simply fied desire. Unless it is organized in

to wish and ask, as a child would wish some way it leads to ruinous conse- and ask a parent for, something desired.

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Prayer in both these cases is looked wishing, then it is evident that, as in upon as a triangle. The mother and the any other art, power in prayer will come child are at the base angles; God is at with practice. It is necessary, as in any the apex. The mother sends up a prayer other art, to begin with little things and to God, which God considers, and, if it gain skill and power from the small to seems good to Him, sends down the the great. Prayer is the personal influanswer to the child. The conditions of ence, which we recognize so well in soeffective prayer under these conditions cial intercourse, at its highest point of are, as set forth in a recent hand-book efficiency. We all recognize that peron prayer, faith, humility, and submis- sonal influence is a hard attainment; sion.

power in prayer is equally open to all, There has been, however, a growing but requires great effort to attain. school of religious thinkers who have Much as we may dislike the word, there felt that the use of terms and figures is a technique of prayer which can be like these must not blind us to the fact mastered. The mother must have that the realm of prayer is no exception learned to pray, in order to be of much to the general rule; that it is necessary, help to her child at such a crisis. To be not only to wish, but to know how a healing personality is a high achieveto wish; that there are laws governing ment. But let us suppose that she has the organization of unsatisfied desires, been practising prayer

been practising prayer for years. She which must be observed. Prayer for has gained her power in the attainment them is not so much a triangle as a of lesser ends than this very life of her straight line. Prayer is the organiza- child. It is, in general, almost impossition of one's unsatisfied desires so that ble to generate in the face of a sudden God may work through them for the emergency a hitherto unused power. end desired. The mother's unsatisfied Prayer ought to start with trifles — the desire for the life of the child may be so sublimation of petty personal desires, organized as to be the channel through the gaining of a rational spiritual atti

a which the healing power of God may tude toward minor social problems in reach the child. Prayer is not, then, the home and school. Prayer does not that passive acquiescence of the Irish- generally emerge into the consciousness man, who hung the Lord's Prayer over as a desire for the evangelization of the his bed and, every night, before he world in this generation; it rather bejumped in, jerked his thumb in the di- gins with a desire for a new doll or the rection of the petitions and ejaculated, winning of a game. ‘Them's my sentiments! Prayer is an Some years previously, this mother activity of will and mind and feeling, has found that her child was not getting which makes us the natural channel on well at school. He began to bring through which good effects flow to home bad report-cards, he did not like those for whom we pray. Psychology the teachers, he hated the studies. studies the conditions of that activity. The mother finds herself beginning to Religion asserts that these good effects anticipate more trouble. She expects are the result, not merely of a personal, another bad report, more tales of being but also of a cosmic wish.

disliked by the teachers, more inability What is the condition of mind of such to do the work prescribed. Her very a mother, which most conduces to the face as she meets the child at the door cure of the child? If it is true, as we tells what she anticipates. Suddenly have surmised, that prayer is not sim- she realizes that the whole atmosphere ply wishing, but organized and directed of the home is melancholy with the

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sense of impending failure. Her personal come a conductor of God's good-will. influence, through the black background She concludes her prayer with thanksof her consciousness, is, in spite of any- giving to God that the prayer has been thing she may say, foreboding. Then granted, a supreme act of faith. she endeavors to 'get hold of herself'; There is all the difference in the world to prevent this thwarted desire for her between the man who says, 'I am going child's happiness and success from turn- to give up my bad habit,' and the man ing sour and becoming a fixed, if almost who says, 'I have given up my bad unconscious, conviction that the child habit.' So there is between feeling that will not get on well at school.

God may answer the prayer and that She begins to pray. She invokes an- God has answered it. The latter is the other conviction, that the good Spirit act of faith that the answer will be hindof the universe has no such intention ered only by the defect of the channel. for her child. She recalls some of the The answer is granted; the flood of hapgreat passages of religious inspiration, piness and success is forcing its way the words of the saints who have been through the narrow and obstructed sure of a power outside ourselves, as channel of the mother's personal influwell as in ourselves, making for right- ence upon the child. Prayer has substieousness. Thus gaining the prayer- tuted such an influence for the previmood, she then reminds herself that she ous, almost unconscious, suggestions of must be the channel for bringing this failure. There is no dogmatism in such good-will into the life of her child. She prayer as to the method of the answer replaces the picture of failure, which that is left to the infinite possibilities threatens to become fixed in her mind, of actual experience. The claim is simwith a more vivid and living picture of ply made on the universe for the happisuccess. With all the love and sym- ness of the child, and in the making of pathy and imaginative fire she possesses,

the claim the psychological machinery she pictures to herself her petition being is set in motion for its being honored by granted the new attitude on the the universe. And this effort to organpart of her child, his awakened interest ize unsatisfied desire not only has its in his studies, his liking for his teachers, influence upon those for whom we pray, his expectation of success. She prays but tends to purify and enlighten the intensely, with all her desire, through desire itself, so that, when the petition and in this mental picture.

is granted, it may be on a much higher This act is exceedingly difficult; but, plane than when it was first offered. if done, it changes the whole atmosphere Yet it is the same prayer. The desire is of the home. The very face of the always satisfied. But it often is submother as she meets the child is mag- limated in the process of satisfaction. netic of success for the child instead In the face of the impending death of of being prophetic of failure. In the her child, a mother who has so practhousand ways, known and unknown, in tised prayer on lesser matters has great which the mother's mind touches the powers. Her very face in the sick-room, mind of the child, encouragement, ex- as the child dimly sees it, is on the side pectation of achievement, faith in his of health and life. And who can tell in powers now flow in upon the will of the what numberless ways the minds of child. In petitions of this nature, the those who love touch one another, all whole personality is stirred; desire, intel- unseen even by the argus eyes of science? lect, and imagination are at their high- Miracles occur, and the tide of life reest point of efficiency, that she may be- turns into sluggish veins, when the de

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sire of life is kindled through the touch ever being enlarged and enlightened by of kindred minds.

the inflow upon us of the cosmic deMany objections will occur to one sires of God. who reads for the first time this theory Again, it will be asked if this theory of prayer. Does not this explanation of will not lend itself to the idea that, if prayer, it will be asked, run counter to you want a purse of money, you must the practice of One who said in his imagine it very vividly lying on the prayer, ‘Not My will but Thine be

pavement outside your house, and then done'? This phrase has been greatly go out and find it. A father heard his misused. It has been misused so as al- little girl praying for the red doll in the most to justify the Irishman's type of window of the corner store, and told prayer, before mentioned. Rousseau her she ought not to pray for things like best expressed a prevailing interpreta- that; she ought to pray to be a good tion of it thus: 'I bless God, but I pray girl, or for the heathen. The fact was not. Why should I ask of Him that He that she did not want specially to be a would change for me the course of good girl in the father's meaning of that things, do miracles in my favor? I, who phrase, and she did not care about the ought to love, above all, the order estab- heathen, but she did want the red doll. lished by his wisdom and maintained by Why make a hypocrite of her at the his providence- shall I wish that order start? So it is with money. If that is to be dissolved on my account? As lit- what you really want, pray for it. If tle do I ask of Him the power to do well. you pray sincerely, you will receive an Why ask what He has already given?' answer which will satisfy you. Possibly

But God's highest will is carried out not the pocket-book, but an ability to only through human wills working at get up earlier in the morning, or to keep white heat. Prayer is not asking God awake between meals, or to reduce your to change the course of things, but ask- expenditures. The answer always comes ing Him to help me to be a part of that and abundantly satisfies anyone who course of things. I become so, not in dares persistently to carry out the art spite of my will, but through my will. of praying. But prayer always initiates The Master used this phrase, not be effort. fore He had exerted his own will, but Prayer is a hard task without the after the great drops of the sweat of de- mystic sense of the personality of God. sire were falling from his brow to the In all the lesser problems of life it is easy ground. The phrase is no idle excuse enough to look upon it as the simple for listless praying; in it we see the sub- demonstration of a natural law. But limation of desire taking place. Idle when the storms are out and the floods prayers, which place this phrase, mis- let loose, when one has done all one can used, in the forefront, will ever excuse by action and has done all one can by injustice and sickness and unhappiness prayer, then life is hard and cruel, inas the will of God. Justice, happiness, deed, unless one can feel, behind all the health, surely these are the will of God laws and beneath all the principles, in for all; as to the detailed method of higher reaches of spiritual communion, their coming, our desires in prayer are a love that understands and forgives. ARE WE GIVING JAPAN A SQUARE DEAL?

BY E. ALEXANDER POWELL

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The most important country in the I propose to rip away the diplomatic world to Americans to-day is Japan. subterfuge and political camouflage Before you question this assertion, which have so long concealed or disthink it over for a moment. Japan is torted the facts of the situation. But, the only nation whose commercial and efore I proceed, let me make it amply territorial ambitions, whose naval and clear that I am not anti-Japanese. emigration policies are in direct con- Neither do I hold a brief for Japan. I Alict with our own. Japan is our only am an American and, because I wish to serious competitor for the trade of see my country morally in the right, I China. She is the key that can lock the deplore the tactless and blundering Open Door. Japan is the only country manner in which we are handling the whose interests in the Pacific clash with Japanese question. I am a friend of ours. She is the only power, save Eng- Japan and, because I wish her well, I land, which is in a position to challenge view with grave misgivings the aggres

a our naval supremacy — and the Brit- sive imperialism which appears to be ish navy, as we are perfectly aware, can dominating her foreign policy. I am never conceivably be directed against absolutely convinced that, unless the ourselves. With the temporary eclipse two peoples can be jolted into a realizaof Germany as a world-power, Japan tion of whither they are drifting as a is the only potential enemy on our hori- result of their mutual suspicions and the zon; she is the only nation that we have policies of their respective governments, reason to fear. The problem that de the present irritation, constantly inmands the most serious consideration

flamed in both countries by pernicious of the American people and the highest propaganda, will shortly break into an quality of American statesmanship is open sore. Notwithstanding the soft the Japanese Question. On its correct pedal put upon frank discussion of the and early solution hangs the peace of question by the diplomatists in Tokyo the world.

and Washington, despite the shocked It is to the great mass of reasoning and vehement denials of the gentlemen and fair-minded people in both coun- of the Japan Society, nothing is more tries, who, I believe, wish to know the certain than that the two nations are unvarnished truth, no matter how un- daily drawing nearer to war. flattering it may be to their national The cause of the existing bitterness pride, how controversive of their pre- between the two countries is doubleconceptions, how disillusionizing, that barreled. We have halted Japanese I address myself. In writing this article immigration into the Far West, and I have discarded euphemisms. At the would like to halt Japanese expansion risk of being accused of sensationalism, in the Far East. The Japanese, for their

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