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Observations placeholder

Myers, F W H - The Varieties of Religious Experience - Prayer



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Frederic W H Myers

[from The Varieties of Religious Experience – William James]

I am glad that you have asked me about prayer, because I have rather strong ideas on the subject.  First consider what are the facts.  There exists around us a spiritual universe, and that universe is in actual relation with the material. 

From the spiritual universe comes the energy which maintains the material; the energy which makes the life of each individual spirit.  Our spirits are supported by a perpetual indrawal of this energy, and the vigour of that indrawal is perpetually changing, much as the vigour of our absorption of material nutriment changes from hour to hour.

I call these facts because I think that some scheme of this kind is the only one consistent with our actual evidence; too complex to summarise here.  How, then, should we act on these facts?  Plainly we must endeavour to draw in as much spiritual life as possible, and we must place our minds in any attitude which experience shows to be favourable to such indrawal.

Prayer is the general name for that attitude of open and earnest expectancy.  If we then ask to whom to pray, the answer – strangely enough – must be that that does not much matter. 

The prayer is not indeed a purely subjective thing; - it means a real increase in intensity of absorption of spiritual power or grace; - but we do not know enough of what takes place in the spiritual world to know how the prayer operates; - through what channel the grace is given. 

The source of the experience

Myers, F W H

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