Allan Kardec

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9. Prayer is an invocation through which, by means of thought, Man enters into communication with the being to whom he directed himself. This may be for the purpose of asking for something, giving thanks or as a glorification. We may pray for ourselves or for others, for the living or for the dead. Prayers addressed to God are heard by those Spirits who are charged with the execution of His will. All those addressed to good Spirits are referred to God. When someone prays to beings other than God, these are serving as mediators or intercessors, because nothing can happen without God's wishes.

10. Spiritism makes the act of prayer understandable by explaining how thought is transmitted, either when the Spirit to whom we are praying comes to our help, or when our thoughts raise themselves up to this being. In order to understand what happens in this circumstance, it is necessary to consider all incarnate and discarnate beings as immersed in the Universal Cosmic Fluid which occupies space, as we on Earth are immersed in the atmosphere. This fluid receives an impulse from will-power, which is the vehicle of thought just as air is the vehicle for sound, with the difference that the vibrations of air are circumscribed, whereas those of the Universal Cosmic Fluid extend infinitely.

So when a thought is directed at someone either on Earth or in space, from an incarnate to a discarnate being, or vice-versa, a fluidic current is established between them which transmits the thought from one to the other, just as air transmits sound.

The energy contained in this current remains proportional to the force behind the thought and the desire. This is how the Spirits hear the prayers directed to them wherever they may be. It is also how Spirits communicate amongst themselves, how they transmit their inspirations to us and how contacts are established at a distance between incarnates.

This explanation has in mind especially those who do not understand the utility of completely mystical prayer. It is not meant to seemingly materialise prayer, but rather to make its effect intelligible by showing it can have direct and effective results. But this does not make it any the less subordinate to God's wishes; He being the Supreme Judge of all things, it is only through His wishes that the action of prayer may become effective.

11. It is through prayer that Man obtains the assistance of the good Spirits who come running to sustain him in his good resolutions and inspire wholesome ideas. In this manner he acquires the moral strength necessary to be able to surmount all difficulties, and come back to the straight and narrow path should he at any time stray from it. By these means he can also turn away from himself all the evil which he attracts through his faults. For example: a man loses his health due to his excesses and so leads a life of suffering till the termination of his days. Has he then the right to complain if he does not obtain the cure he so desires? No, because he could have found the strength to resist temptation through the act of prayer.

12. If we divided the evils of life into two parts, one being those which Man cannot avoid and the other those tribulations of which he himself is the principal cause, due to carelessness and excesses, (see chapter 5, item 4) we would see that the number in the second group far exceeds those in the first. So it is evident that Man is the author of the greater part of his afflictions and that they could be avoided if he always behaved with prudence and wisdom.

It is no less certain that these miseries are the result of our infractions against God's Law and that, if we duly observed these Laws, we would be completely happy. If we did not exceed the limit of what is necessary for the satisfaction of our needs, we would not have the sicknesses which are provoked as a consequence of these excesses; nor would we experience the vicissitudes which derive from them. If we put a limit on our ambitions we would not have to fear ruin; if we did not desire to raise ourselves higher than we are able, we would not have to be afraid of falling; if we were humble, we would not suffer the deception of hurt pride; if we practised the law of charity we would not be slanderers, jealous or envious, and so would avoid arguments and fights. If we did no evil to anyone we would not need to fear vengeance, etc.

Admitting that Man can do nothing with respect to other evils, and that prayer would be useless in ridding him of them; would it not mean a great deal to have the possibility of exempting ourselves from those ills which stem from our own behaviour? Here it is easy to conceive the action played by prayer, which aims at attracting wholesome inspirations from the good Spirits, and in asking them for strength to resist our bad thoughts, whose realisation could be disastrous to us. In this case, what the prayers do is not to remove the wrong from us, but turn us away from our bad thoughts which cause us harm. The prayers in no way prevent the fulfilling of God's laws, nor do they suspend the course of the laws of Nature. They stop us from infringing these laws by guiding our free will. Yet they act by default, in an imperceptible manner, so as not to subjugate our free- will. Man finds himself in the position of one who solicits good counsel and then puts it into action; but is always free to follow the advice or not. God desires it to be like this, so that Man can have responsibility for his actions, thereby leaving him the merit of the choice between good and evil. This is what Man can always be sure of obtaining if he asks fervently, and this is the kind of situation where, above all, the words "Ask and it shall be given" can be applied.

Could not the effects of prayer, even when reduced to these proportions, bring immense results? It has been reserved for Spiritism to prove its action through the revelation of the relationship existing between the physical and spiritual worlds. But its effects are not limited just to these results.

Prayer is recommended by all the Spirits. To renounce it is to ignore the benevolence of God; to reject for oneself His assistance and for others the good that we can do.

13. On attending to a request which has been addressed to Him, God desires to recompense the intention, the devotion and the faith of the one who prays. This is why the prayers of a good person have greater merit in God's eyes and are always more effective, because the corrupt and evil person cannot pray with the same fervour and confidence which comes only from a sentiment of true piety. From a selfish heart, the one who prays only from the lips, there can come only words, and never a charitable impulse which is what gives force to prayer. So clearly can this be understood, that on asking for the prayers of another person instinctively preference will be given to those whose conduct, it is felt, will be more agreeable to God because they will be more promptly heard.

14. As prayer exercises a type of magnetic action, it could be supposed that its effect would depend on fluidic power. However, this is not so. To be precise, Spirits exercise this action on Man so as to overcome any insufficiency in those who pray, either by direct influence in his name, or by giving him momentarily an exceptional force when they judge him deserving of this grace, or when it can be useful to him.

The person who does not consider themself sufficiently good as to exercise a wholesome influence, should not refrain from praying for the good of another because of a mistaken belief of being unworthy to be heard. The consciousness of their own inferiority constitutes a test in humility, which is always pleasing to God, Who then takes into account the charitable intention which animated their intention. Fervour and confidence in God are the first steps in the return to goodness, for which the good Spirits feel themselves blessed in being able to offer stimulation. Prayer is repelled only from the prideful who deposit faith in their own power and merits, believing it possible to superimpose themselves upon the Will of the eternal Father.

15. The power of prayer lies in the thought and does not depend on words, the place or the moment in which it is proffered. Therefore it is possible to pray in all places, at any time, alone or with others. The influence of a place or time is only felt according to the circumstances which favour the meditation. Communal prayer has a more powerful action when all who are praying join together in a heartfelt thought and envisage the same objective, since it is as if many beseeched together in one voice. But it will do no good for a large number of people to gather together for prayer if each one acts in isolation, on their own account. A hundred people can pray selfishly, whereas two or three joined by the same aspirations, praying like true brothers and sisters in Christ, will give more power to their prayer than would the hundred selfish persons (See chapter 28, items 4 & 5).

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