Any discussion of prayer is of course only addressed to those who personally concern themselves with prayer. He who does not feel the inner urge to pray may well refrain from doing so, for his words or his thoughts would inevitably dissolve into nothingness. If a prayer is not felt deeply within, through and through, it has no value, and therefore will have no effect. The best foundation for a prayer which may be expected to have an effect lies in those moments of spontaneous thankfulness arising out of great happiness or of deepest pain resulting from heartfelt grief. In such moments a person is filled with one particular intuitive perception which dominates all else. This enables the main wish of the prayer, be it gratitude or a request, to receive undimmed power.
In any case, people often have a wrong picture of how a prayer comes into existence, what happens to it, and how it develops further. Not every prayer penetrates to the Highest Ruler of the Universe. On the contrary, it is a very rare exception that a prayer is actually able to ascend to the steps of His Throne. Here too the basic Law of the Power of Attraction of Homogeneous Species plays the principal role.
A prayer which is seriously and deeply felt will be attracted to, and itself will attract, those of a similar nature, and come into contact with a power-center of a kind identical to the main theme of the prayer. These power-centers can also be called sections of spheres or something similar, it will basically always amount to the same thing. Reciprocal action will bring about that which was the main wish of the prayer. It will either bring serenity, strength, relaxation, plans suddenly arising in the mind, the solution to difficult problems, or other such things. Something good will always come of it, be it only increased composure and balance of mind, which will in turn lead to a solution and some way out of the difficulty.
It is also possible that the prayers sent out, having received increased power through the reciprocal action of homogeneous power-centers, will find an ethereal path to people who, being stimulated through this, will in some way bring help and thus fulfillment of the prayer. All these happenings will be easily understood by observing ethereal life. Here again justice lies in the fact that it is always the inner quality of the one who prays which is decisive. The depth with which he prays determines the power, i.e. the vitality and effectiveness of the prayer.
In the great ethereal happenings in the cosmos each variety of intuitive perception finds the homogeneous species to which it belongs, because not only could it not be attracted by others, but it would even be repelled. Only when meeting its similar kind does a connection take place with a consequent increase in strength. A prayer embodying various intuitive perceptions, which still contain a certain measure of strength through the state of deep absorption of the one praying, will, in spite of its fragmentation, thereby attract different things, and will also return different kinds of reciprocal effects. Whether this results in any kind of fulfillment will depend entirely on the nature of the separate parts, which can either foster or hinder each other. However, when praying, it is better in every case to send out only one thought as an intuitive perception in order to prevent confusion.
Thus Christ by no means intended that the “Lord’s Prayer” absolutely had to be prayed all at once, but in it He summarized all that for which a person with an earnest volition may primarily ask and be certain of fulfillment.
These petitions contain the foundation for everything which man needs for his physical well-being and spiritual ascent. They even give much more! They also indicate the guidelines which man should strive to follow during his life on earth. The composition of the petitions is a masterpiece in itself. The “Lord’s Prayer” alone provides everything for the seeker if he penetrates into it deeply and grasps it aright. He would need nothing more than the “Lord’s Prayer”. It shows him the whole gospel in concentrated form. It is the key to the Luminous Heights for him who knows how to experience it rightly. It can be at once the staff and the beacon to all on their path forward and upward! It contains so immeasurably much.*(Lecture: The Lord's Prayer)
The real purpose of the “Lord’s Prayer” is evident in the wealth of its contents. In the “Lord’s Prayer” Jesus gave humanity the key to the Kingdom of God! It is the very essence of His Message. But He did not intend that it should be recited in this way.
Man needs only to take note when he has prayed and he will realize how often his attention wanders and how much the depth of his intuitive perception is weakened by repeating the separate petitions one after the other, even when he knows them fluently.
It is impossible for him to pass from one petition to the other with the deep fervor necessary to a genuine prayer! In His way Jesus made everything easy for mankind. The right expression would be “easy as child’s play”. Jesus specifically pointed out: “Become as little children!” That is, think as simply and look no more for difficulties than they do. He would never have expected anything so impossible from mankind as to pray the Lord’s Prayer with the deep concentration it requires, straight through. This should also convince humanity that Jesus intended something different, something greater. He gave humanity the key to the Kingdom of God, not merely a prayer!
Many-sidedness always weakens a prayer. A child does not come to its father with seven requests at a time either, but only with that which is nearest to its heart, whether it be some distress or a wish.
This is the way in which man in his distress should also approach his God with a petition about that which oppresses him. In most cases it will be just one particular matter, not many at once. Man should not pray for something that does not really bother him at the time. Since such a prayer cannot come to life deep within his intuition, it becomes an empty form and quite naturally weakens some other and perhaps really necessary request.
Therefore man should only pray for what is really necessary! Avoid all empty phrases, as they are bound to lead to fragmentation and in time must foster hypocrisy!
Prayer requires profound earnestness. Pray in calm and purity, so that the power of the intuitive perception will be increased through calm, and through purity it will receive that luminous lightness which will enable the prayer to be carried upward to the heights of all that is light and pure. Then the supplicant will receive that fulfillment which will be most beneficial for him and really advance him in his whole being!
The power of a prayer is not able to force or catapult it upward; only purity with its corresponding lightness can do so. As soon as the urge to ask becomes alive within him, every person can achieve purity in prayer, although perhaps not in all prayers. It is not necessary for his whole life to be based on purity already, but while praying he will now and then be able to at least uplift himself for a few seconds in the purity of his intuitive perception.
Not only do quiet calm and the deeper concentration made possible thereby help to strengthen the power of a prayer, but also every strong emotional feeling, such as fear, anxiety or joy.
This does not mean that the fulfillment of a prayer will necessarily always correspond to and harmonize with man’s earthly ideas and wishes. The fulfillment benevolently reaches out far beyond these, leading towards what is best for the whole, not just for the earthly moment! Often, therefore, an apparent non-fulfillment must later be recognized as the only right and best fulfillment, and the person will be happy that things did not go according to his wish of the moment.
As to the question of intercession! People often wonder how the reciprocal effect of a prayer of intercession, i.e. a petition for someone else, can find its way to a person who has not himself prayed, since the reaction must flow back to the petitioner along the way he has paved for it.
Here too there is no deviation from the firmly established laws. During a prayer the intercessor thinks so intensively of the one for whom he is praying that his wishes are thereby first anchored or tied firmly to the person, and then start in their upward course from there. They can thus return to the other person, since the strong wishes of the petitioner have already become alive and circle around him. However, the one indispensable condition is that the soil within the person being prayed for is receptive, and, being of a like nature, offers an anchorage and puts no obstacle in the way.
If the soil is not receptive, thus unworthy, then the fact that the intercessory prayer glances off reveals once more the wonderful justice of the Divine Laws, which cannot permit that help from outside through another person should fall on stony ground. This repulsing or glancing off of an intercession seeking anchorage in the person being prayed for, whose inner state has proved him unworthy, makes it impossible for help to come to him. Here again we find something so perfect in this automatic and natural activity that man stands amazed before the unwavering and just distribution of the fruits of what men themselves willed!
If this were not such an inexorable process, then the mechanism of Creation would have a gap which would allow for possibilities of injustice towards those who are unworthy of having intercessors, although intercessors, on their part, arise only out of existing friendships or the like.
Intercessions by people who lack the definite inner urge from their genuine intuitive feelings have neither value nor success. They are as chaff before the wind.
There is still another way in which genuine intercession can take effect. That is when it acts as a signpost! The prayer immediately rises upwards and points to the one needing help. If now, in view of the way shown to him, a spiritual messenger is sent to give aid, the possibility of help reaching the person in need is subject to the same laws of worthiness or unworthiness, thus of whether he is open to it or will repulse it. If the person needing help has an inward leaning towards darkness, the messenger sent to help him in answer to the prayer cannot get in touch with or influence him, and must return without having accomplished anything. Thus the intercession could not be fulfilled because the living laws did not permit it. But if the soil is suitable then a genuine intercession is of immeasurable value! Either it brings help without the person in need knowing it, or it unites with the wish or prayer of the person in need, thus giving him greatly increased strength.