1. Prayer is the greatest gift with which God blessed His Son at his creation. ²It was then what it is to become; the single voice Creator and creation share; the song the Son sings to the Father, Who returns the thanks it offers Him unto the Son. ³Endless the harmony, and endless, too, the joyous concord of the Love They give forever to Each Other. ⁴And in this, creation is extended. ⁵God gives thanks to His extension in His Son. ⁶His Son gives thanks for his creation, in the song of his creating in his Father’s Name. ⁷The Love They share is what all prayer will be throughout eternity, when time is done. ⁸For such it was before time seemed to be.
2. To you who are in time a little while, prayer takes the form that best will suit your need. ²You have but one. ³What God created one must recognize its oneness, and rejoice that what illusions seemed to separate is one forever in the Mind of God. ⁴Prayer now must be the means by which God’s Son leaves separate goals and separate interests by, and turns in holy gladness to the truth of union in his Father and himself.
3. Lay down your dreams, you holy Son of God, and rising up as God created you, dispense with idols and remember Him. ²Prayer will sustain you now, and bless you as you lift your heart to Him in rising song that reaches higher and then higher still, until both high and low have disappeared. ³Faith in your goal will grow and hold you up as you ascend the shining stairway to the lawns of Heaven and the gate of peace. ⁴For this is prayer, and here salvation is. ⁵This is the way. ⁶It is God’s gift to you.
I. True Prayer
1. Prayer is a way offered by the Holy Spirit to reach God. ²It is not merely a question or an entreaty. ³It cannot succeed until you realize that it asks for nothing. ⁴How else could it serve its purpose? ⁵It is impossible to pray for idols and hope to reach God. ⁶True prayer must avoid the pitfall of asking to entreat. ⁷Ask, rather, to receive what is already given; to accept what is already there.
2. You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem, and that you will receive a specific answer if such is your need. ²You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. ³In prayer this is not contradictory. ⁴There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not. ⁵You cannot be asked to accept answers which are beyond the level of need that you can recognize. ⁶Therefore, it is not the form of the question that matters, nor how it is asked. ⁷The form of the answer, if given by God, will suit your need as you see it. ⁸This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice. ⁹The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love.
3. You cannot, then, ask for the echo. ²It is the song that is the gift. ³Along with it come the overtones, the harmonics, the echoes, but these are secondary. ⁴In true prayer you hear only the song. ⁵All the rest is merely added. ⁶You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you.
4. The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need. ²To ask for the specific is much the same as to look on sin and then forgive it. ³Also in the same way, in prayer you overlook your specific needs as you see them, and let them go into God’s Hands. ⁴There they become your gifts to Him, for they tell Him that you would have no gods before Him; no love but His. ⁵What could His answer be but your remembrance of Him? ⁶Can this be traded for a bit of trifling advice about a problem of an instant’s duration? ⁷God answers only for eternity. ⁸But still all little answers are contained in this.
5. Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving. ²It should not be confused with supplication of any kind, because it is a way of remembering your holiness. ³Why should holiness entreat, being fully entitled to everything Love has to offer? ⁴And it is to Love you go in prayer. ⁵Prayer is an offering; a giving up of yourself to be at one with Love. ⁶There is nothing to ask because there is nothing left to want. ⁷That nothingness becomes the altar of God. ⁸It disappears in Him.
6. This is not a level of prayer that everyone can attain as yet. ²Those who have not reached it still need your help in prayer because their asking is not yet based upon acceptance. ³Help in prayer does not mean that another mediates between you and God. ⁴But it does mean that another stands beside you and helps to raise you up to Him. ⁵One who has realized the goodness of God prays without fear. ⁶And one who prays without fear cannot but reach Him. ⁷He can therefore also reach His Son, wherever he may be and whatever form he may seem to take.
7. Praying to Christ in anyone is true prayer because it is a gift of thanks to His Father. ²To ask that Christ be but Himself is not an entreaty. ³It is a song of thanksgiving for what you are. ⁴Herein lies the power of prayer. ⁵It asks nothing and receives everything. ⁶This prayer can be shared because it receives for everyone. ⁷To pray with one who knows that this is true is to be answered. ⁸Perhaps the specific form of resolution for a specific problem will occur to either of you; it does not matter which. ⁹Perhaps it will reach both, if you are genuinely attuned to one another. ¹⁰It will come because you have realized that Christ is in both of you. ¹¹That is its only truth.
II. The Ladder of Prayer
1. Prayer has no beginning and no end. ²It is a part of life. ³But it does change in form, and grow with learning until it reaches its formless state, and fuses into total communication with God. ⁴In its asking form it need not, and often does not, make appeal to God, or even involve belief in Him. ⁵At these levels prayer is merely wanting, out of a sense of scarcity and lack.
2. These forms of prayer, or asking-out-of-need, always involve feelings of weakness and inadequacy, and could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is. ²No one, then, who is sure of his Identity could pray in these forms. ³Yet it is also true that no one who is uncertain of his Identity can avoid praying in this way. ⁴And prayer is as continual as life. ⁵Everyone prays without ceasing. ⁶Ask and you have received, for you have established what it is you want.
3. It is also possible to reach a higher form of asking-out-of-need, for in this world prayer is reparative, and so it must entail levels of learning. ²Here, the asking may be addressed to God in honest belief, though not yet with understanding. ³A vague and usually unstable sense of identification has generally been reached, but tends to be blurred by a deep-rooted sense of sin. ⁴It is possible at this level to continue to ask for things of this world in various forms, and it is also possible to ask for gifts such as honesty or goodness, and particularly for forgiveness for the many sources of guilt that inevitably underlie any prayer of need. ⁵Without guilt there is no scarcity. ⁶The sinless have no needs.
4. At this level also comes that curious contradiction in terms known as “praying for one’s enemies.” ²The contradiction lies not in the actual words, but rather in the way in which they are usually interpreted. ³While you believe you have enemies, you have limited prayer to the laws of this world, and have also limited your ability to receive and to accept to the same narrow margins. ⁴And yet, if you have enemies you have need of prayer, and great need, too. ⁵What does the phrase really mean? ⁶Pray for yourself, that you may not seek to imprison Christ and thereby lose the recognition of your own Identity. ⁷Be traitor to no one, or you will be treacherous to yourself.
5. An enemy is the symbol of an imprisoned Christ. ²And who could He be except yourself? ³The prayer for enemies thus becomes a prayer for your own freedom. ⁴Now it is no longer a contradiction in terms. ⁵It has become a statement of the unity of Christ and a recognition of His sinlessness. ⁶And now it has become holy, for it acknowledges the Son of God as he was created.
6. Let it never be forgotten that prayer at any level is always for yourself. ²If you unite with anyone in prayer, you make him part of you. ³The enemy is you, as is the Christ. ⁴Before it can become holy, then, prayer becomes a choice. ⁵You do not choose for another. ⁶You can but choose for yourself. ⁷Pray truly for your enemies, for herein lies your own salvation. ⁸Forgive them for your sins, and you will be forgiven indeed.
7. Prayer is a ladder reaching up to Heaven. ²At the top there is a transformation much like your own, for prayer is part of you. ³The things of earth are left behind, all unremembered. ⁴There is no asking, for there is no lack. ⁵Identity in Christ is fully recognized as set forever, beyond all change and incorruptible. ⁶The light no longer flickers, and will never go out. ⁷Now, without needs of any kind, and clad forever in the pure sinlessness that is the gift of God to you, His Son, prayer can again become what it was meant to be. ⁸For now it rises as a song of thanks to your Creator, sung without words, or thoughts, or vain desires, unneedful now of anything at all. ⁹So it extends, as it was meant to do. ¹⁰And for this giving God Himself gives thanks.
8. God is the goal of every prayer, giving it timelessness instead of end. ²Nor has it a beginning, because the goal has never changed. ³Prayer in its earlier forms is an illusion, because there is no need for a ladder to reach what one has never left. ⁴Yet prayer is part of forgiveness as long as forgiveness, itself an illusion, remains unattained. ⁵Prayer is tied up with learning until the goal of learning has been reached. ⁶And then all things will be transformed together, and returned unblemished into the Mind of God. ⁷Being beyond learning, this state cannot be described. ⁸The stages necessary to its attainment, however, need to be understood, if peace is to be restored to God’s Son, who lives now with the illusion of death and the fear of God.
III. Praying for Others
1. We said that prayer is always for yourself, and this is so. ²Why, then, should you pray for others at all? ³And if you should, how should you do it? ⁴Praying for others, if rightly understood, becomes a means for lifting your projections of guilt from your brother, and enabling you to recognize it is not he who is hurting you. ⁵The poisonous thought that he is your enemy, your evil counterpart, your nemesis, must be relinquished before you can be saved from guilt. ⁶For this the means is prayer, of rising power and with ascending goals, until it reaches even up to God.
2. The earlier forms of prayer, at the bottom of the ladder, will not be free from envy and malice. ²They call for vengeance, not for love. ³Nor do they come from one who understands that they are calls for death, made out of fear by those who cherish guilt. ⁴They call upon a vengeful god, and it is he who seems to answer them. ⁵Hell cannot be asked for another, and then escaped by him who asks for it. ⁶Only those who are in hell can ask for hell. ⁷Those who have been forgiven, and who accepted their forgiveness, could never make a prayer like that.
3. At these levels, then, the learning goal must be to recognize that prayer will bring an answer only in the form in which the prayer was made. ²This is enough. ³From here it will be an easy step to the next levels. ⁴The next ascent begins with this:
⁵What I have asked for for my brother is not what I would have. ⁶Thus have I made of him my enemy.
⁷It is apparent that this step cannot be reached by anyone who sees no value or advantage to himself in setting others free. ⁸This may be long delayed, because it may seem to be dangerous instead of merciful. ⁹To the guilty there seems indeed to be a real advantage in having enemies, and this imagined gain must go, if enemies are to be set free.
4. Guilt must be given up, and not concealed. ²Nor can this be done without some pain, and a glimpse of the merciful nature of this step may for some time be followed by a deep retreat into fear. ³For fear’s defenses are fearful in themselves, and when they are recognized they bring their fear with them. ⁴Yet what advantage has an illusion of escape ever brought a prisoner? ⁵His real escape from guilt can lie only in the recognition that the guilt has gone. ⁶And how can this be recognized as long as he hides it in another, and does not see it as his own? ⁷Fear of escape makes it difficult to welcome freedom, and to make a jailer of an enemy seems to be safety. ⁸How, then, can he be released without an insane fear for yourself? ⁹You have made of him your salvation and your escape from guilt. ¹⁰Your investment in this escape is heavy, and your fear of letting it go is strong.
5. Stand still an instant, now, and think what you have done. ²Do not forget that it is you who did it, and who can therefore let it go. ³Hold out your hand. ⁴This enemy has come to bless you. ⁵Take his blessing, and feel how your heart is lifted and your fear released. ⁶Do not hold on to it, nor onto him. ⁷He is a Son of God, along with you. ⁸He is no jailer, but a messenger of Christ. ⁹Be this to him, that you may see him thus.
6. It is not easy to realize that prayers for things, for status, for human love, for external “gifts” of any kind, are always made to set up jailers and to hide from guilt. ²These things are used for goals that substitute for God, and therefore distort the purpose of prayer. ³The desire for them is the prayer. ⁴One need not ask explicitly. ⁵The goal of God is lost in the quest for lesser goals of any kind, and prayer becomes requests for enemies. ⁶The power of prayer can be quite clearly recognized even in this. ⁷No one who wants an enemy will fail to find one. ⁸But just as surely will he lose the only true goal that is given him. ⁹Think of the cost, and understand it well. ¹⁰All other goals are at the cost of God.
IV. Praying with Others
1. Until the second level at least begins, one cannot share in prayer. ²For until that point, each one must ask for different things. ³But once the need to hold the other as an enemy has been questioned, and the reason for doing so has been recognized if only for an instant, it becomes possible to join in prayer. ⁴Enemies do not share a goal. ⁵It is in this their enmity is kept. ⁶Their separate wishes are their arsenals; their fortresses in hate. ⁷The key to rising further still in prayer lies in this simple thought; this change of mind:
⁸We go together, you and I.
2. Now it is possible to help in prayer, and so reach up yourself. ²This step begins the quicker ascent, but there are still many lessons to learn. ³The way is open, and hope is justified. ⁴Yet it is likely at first that what is asked for even by those who join in prayer is not the goal that prayer should truly seek. ⁵Even together you may ask for things, and thus set up but an illusion of a goal you share. ⁶You may ask together for specifics, and not realize that you are asking for effects without the cause. ⁷And this you cannot have. ⁸For no one can receive effects alone, asking a cause from which they do not come to offer them to him.
3. Even the joining, then, is not enough, if those who pray together do not ask, before all else, what is the Will of God. ²From this Cause only can the answer come in which are all specifics satisfied; all separate wishes unified in one. ³Prayer for specifics always asks to have the past repeated in some way. ⁴What was enjoyed before, or seemed to be; what was another’s and he seemed to love,—all these are but illusions from the past. ⁵The aim of prayer is to release the present from its chains of past illusions; to let it be a freely chosen remedy from every choice that stood for a mistake. ⁶What prayer can offer now so far exceeds all that you asked before that it is pitiful to be content with less.
4. You have chosen a newborn chance each time you pray. ²And would you stifle and imprison it in ancient prisons, when the chance has come to free yourself from all of them at once? ³Do not restrict your asking. ⁴Prayer can bring the peace of God. ⁵What time-bound thing can give you more than this, in just the little space that lasts until it crumbles into dust?
V. The Ladder Ends
1. Prayer is a way to true humility. ²And here again it rises slowly up, and grows in strength and love and holiness. ³Let it but leave the ground where it begins to rise to God, and true humility will come at last to grace the mind that thought it was alone and stood against the world. ⁴Humility brings peace because it does not claim that you must rule the universe, nor judge all things as you would have them be. ⁵All little gods it gladly lays aside, not in resentment, but in honesty and recognition that they do not serve.
2. Illusions and humility have goals so far apart they cannot coexist, nor share a dwelling place where they can meet. ²Where one has come the other disappears. ³The truly humble have no goal but God because they need no idols, and defense no longer serves a purpose. ⁴Enemies are useless now, because humility does not oppose. ⁵It does not hide in shame because it is content with what it is, knowing creation is the Will of God. ⁶Its selflessness is Self, and this it sees in every meeting, where it gladly joins with every Son of God, whose purity it recognizes that it shares with him.
3. Now prayer is lifted from the world of things, of bodies, and of gods of every kind, and you can rest in holiness at last. ²Humility has come to teach you how to understand your glory as God’s Son, and recognize the arrogance of sin. ³A dream has veiled the face of Christ from you. ⁴Now can you look upon His sinlessness. ⁵High has the ladder risen. ⁶You have come almost to Heaven. ⁷There is little more to learn before the journey is complete. ⁸Now can you say to everyone who comes to join in prayer with you:
⁹I cannot go without you, for you are a part of me.
¹⁰And so he is in truth. ¹¹Now can you pray only for what you truly share with him. ¹²For you have understood he never left, and you, who seemed alone, are one with him.
4. The ladder ends with this, for learning is no longer needed. ²Now you stand before the gate of Heaven, and your brother stands beside you there. ³The lawns are deep and still, for here the place appointed for the time when you should come has waited long for you. ⁴Here will time end forever. ⁵At this gate eternity itself will join with you. ⁶Prayer has become what it was meant to be, for you have recognized the Christ in you.