Excerpts from The Thunder of Silence, chapter 14, by Joel S. Goldsmith (1892-1964)

For centuries the world has believed that merely voicing words in an attempt to reach God was sufficient to bring the power and the presence of God into daily experience. For hundreds of years, millions, even billions, of people all over the world have prayed for wars to cease, famine to be wiped off the earth, and disease to be healed – but all these have continued unabated.

No one experiences answers prayer when he prays merely with his mind, relying wholly on words and thoughts, because there is then no opportunity for the Spirit to break through into expression. Regardless of what form prayer may take, there is no connecting link with God until there is a conscious awareness of His presence.

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Matthew 6:7

Many of us have been guilty of using vain repetitions, thinking that we are praying when in reality all we have been doing is repeating over and over again somebody else’s man-made prayer. Even the repetition of as great a prayer as the Lord’s Prayer, if recited with the idea that the mere rehearsal of its words has power, is not effective prayer. Prayer that is made up of words and thoughts cannot and does not reach God, and therefore remains unanswered.  Prayers that are answered are those deep within a person when no words and no thoughts are present, but when there is a hunger, a desire, or a need that is beyond words. In that intense longing, God is reached.

The absence of fruitage in prayer merely bears witness to our failure to go deep enough into our consciousness to make contact with the Presence which is always there and which is ever available. God is not to be found on the surface of men’s minds: God is not to be found through the intellect God is not to be found except through deep prayer, a heart-hunger for God, a deep desire to know Him aright.

In praying, however, it is important that we leave behind all our preconceived notions or ideas of what we want – our hopes, aims, ambitions, and desires – because there is no assurance that God will fulfill them on our terms. If we hope to see the fruitage of answered prayer, we must remember not to pray for anything at all that we think we need or that the world needs, but let our prayer be an inner stillness in which God’s word flows into us reminding us, “Son … all that I have is thine.” When God speaks His word, there will be no doubt of Its truth, and there will be no interval of barrenness between God’s word and Its fulfillment.

Therefore, it should not be too difficult to pray, “Not my will but Thine be done in me. Thou art the all-knowing, infinite wisdom and intelligence of the universe, and I surrender myself – I surrender my hopes and desires, my fears, my aims and ambitions – into Thy hand.”

To bring ourselves as an empty vessel to God and let God fill that vessel is the highest form of prayer. Let us not take our finite views of what is good and what is bad to God. Nor take our human hopes an ambitions to Him, but let us go to God as if we really trusted Him more than we would trust our own mother, trusted Him as the divine Love and the divine Wisdom of this world, which in truth He is.