Can any good come out of prayer? I answer Yes, but not in the sense that is supposed. A phenomenon can be produced in the same way that is brought about by mesmerism, and the world is put in possession of a fact but no knowledge, for there is no knowledge in the church prayer. It is the effect of superstition and ignorance. It is not of Christ but from a lower superstitious mind which is ignorant of itself and God. No man prays but he who expects to get a favor or be rewarded for more than he deserves or perhaps has more of this world's goods than his neighbor. Witness the effects of the prayers of this world—of those who pray to the earthly man. They belong to the begging, hypocritical, lowest class of mankind. No man of character will beg or pray for the sake of gain.
Prayer is the desire of the heart and if the heart is right the prayer will be answered. For as the heart is only the figure or emblem of our knowledge, a true heart or mind must be scientific knowledge of ourselves and a corrupt heart or mind must be full of superstition and ignorance, deceit and hypocrisy.
It is generally admitted by most of the world that prayer is of divine origin, but if it is to be offered to God this is not the case. If it is of the devil, I will admit that it is as old as its father, for we read that the devils prayed, and the devils asked prayers as when the devil wanted Christ to worship him. So do all men of narrow, contracted minds like to be worshiped. One great argument in favor of prayer is that Christ said, He who humbles himself shall be exalted. What is required of a person to humble himself is to get down on his knees and hold up his hands and in a hypocritical cant ask of God some favor which he is not entitled to. God rewards everyone just according to his acts and He knows our wants before we ask. So to ask of a Being whom we acknowledge knows our wants is either to curry favor or flatter Him with the idea that we think He will be pleased to see how much we honor Him. This is the wisdom of this world, but not the wisdom of God, for God asks no such worship. To worship God is to worship Him in Spirit and in truth, for He is in the truth but not in the error. Our reward is in our act and if we act rightly and honestly, we get the reward. If we act selfishly we get the reward also. He who expects God to leave science and come down to ignorance and change a principle for a selfish motive to please him is either a knave or fool and knows not God. God does not act at all but is like the heat or fire that throws heat or fire on all around. Those who will come can enjoy the heat or love, but if we choose to stand out in the cold, we cannot expect exclusive privileges; for He has no respect to one over another. I have no account with God. He pays me as soon as my work is done and I ask no favors of Him out of His principles. If I act wrongly He will not step out and correct me. I must do it myself. If I act rightly I get my reward, for our happiness or misery is in our acts; and as we are a part of each other, our happiness is in our neighbor, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. If you understand this, Jesus said, You are not far from the kingdom of heaven. Jesus had no sympathy with the hypocrite's prayer. He warned his disciples and the multitude against all such prayers. His prayer was that God would forgive them for they knew not what they did. A desire to know God is a desire to know ourselves and that requires all our thoughts to come into that happy state of mind that will lead man in the way to health. This is a science and is Christ's prayer. The ignorance of this is superstition and belief in all sorts of evil spirits. This is the effect of this world's prayer; both will be answered but one contains no knowledge and the other contains science the world knows not of.