"Vain repetitions"

STUDENTS of Christian Science may well ponder deeply the counsel of the Master with respect to prayer, and also that given by Mrs. Eddy in the first chapter of Science and Health, were she makes a clear distinction between true prayer and an empty form of words which can never be other than barren of results. There can be no question that those who come into Christian Science learn the power of prayer in ways which they never deemed possible in their former religious experience, and yet, as they would willingly admit, each day should bring to them a fuller, clearer understanding of God, and also of that which relates human consciousness to the divine, namely, the communion with the infinite Mind which alone constitutes true prayer.

It is well worth our while to study earnestly the instructions of Christ Jesus respecting prayer given in the sixth chapter of Matthew, and we shall there find that he has a great deal to say about false concepts of it. Among other things he warns his followers against audible and public prayers, but even when he tells them that they should enter into the closet and shut the door, there to commune with the "Father which is in secret," he immediately follows this admonition with the command: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them." Students of Christian Science might say at once that they have gotten away from the forms of prayer here called "vain repetitions," but perhaps they do not always see as clearly as they should that all persistence in the use of formulas is a most subtle form of disobedience to this command of our Master, and is also at variance with the instruction given in our text-book in the chapter on Prayer.

Christian Scientists accept gladly the statement of our Leader, as found on page 16 of Science and Health, where she says that the Lord's Prayer "covers all human needs." They prove this true in the healing of sickness as well as in the overcoming of sin, that is, where the letter of truth is clearly understood and the spirit accompanies the declaration of the letter. The opening statements of the Lord's Prayer express the absoluteness of God in such a way that no shadow of material belief can hinder the realization of all the good sought after by those who with love and reverence thus approach divine Love. In other words, this prayer spiritually understood rules out the belief that there can be either want or woe, sin, sickness, or death in the kingdom of God.

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Among the Churches
October 14, 1916

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