Signs of the Times

[From "The Renaissance of Prayer," by Rev. Samuel McComb in The Churchman]

One of the most striking and at the same time most promising features of the religious situation to-day is the new interest in prayer, the strenuous endeavor to understand it, the search for fresh methods whereby it may be made more efficacious in the life of the individual and of the group. It has been shrewdly remarked that an age is known not so much by the books that it reads as by those that it writes. It follows that he who would understand the trend of the higher thought of to-day must give weight to the fact that never probably in the history of religion have been produced so many books and discussions on the theory of prayer, and never so many societies and circles formed for the reduction of theory to practice as at the present time.... The psychologist is right when he says prayer is religion.... The materialistic tradition which for the past half century has governed the science of medicine, to the rigorous exclusion of any moral or spiritual instrumentality in the cure of disease, has at last been challenged. Under the influence of prayer and faith it is now certain that various disorders, incapable of cure by the usual medical remedies, have been mitigated or wholly overcome.

The end of all prayer is to draw near to God, to find in Him our life and our strength. This is real prayer as distinguished from counterfeits. Now in this real prayer there is a power which can shape the future of man and of the world. In answer to such prayer energies are renewed and we cease to be weak, dependent victims of this or that external force; inhibitions are swept away.... The mind that is at peace with itself, the will that is made strong to suffer and to do, the heart that is sustained by hope and inspiration—these are not dead, mechanical things; they are living forces which ever tend to actualize themselves in a world without. They call into being a new series of events and circumstances which otherwise would not have been. Prayer is thus the creator of great practical enterprises, of causes and movements that may affect powerfully the destinies of individuals and of nations. Can any one doubt, for example, that the prayers of a Shaftesbury or a Gladstone set in motion and filled with victorious energy influences that made for the social and spiritual enfranchisement of millions?

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March 11, 1922

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