Joseph Le Conte
The Prayer of Faith
Prayer is the outpouring of every right affection and desire into the ear of our heavenly Father. Shall we repress these because they may be unwise? I think not. We human fathers love to hear our children express every right desire to us, even though, through ignorance or weakness, they may be unwise and cannot be granted. It is only thus that the heart of father and child are brought into communion; it is only thus that the will of the child is brought in accordance with the will of the father, and the child is morally trained. Even so, we little children of our heavenly Father know not always what to ask for. In our ignorance, in our weakness, in our anguish, we may often ask unwisely; but, if our desires are not unholy, He will listen with patience and love. He encourages us to ask, He loves us to ask. Let us, then, ask without fear. Let us express to Him every right desire and feeling, wise and unwise, not only our spiritual yearnings, but our sorrows, our fears, our anguish, of every kind. Our desires may be unwise, our fears and anguish may be childish, but the expression of them is always wise. Indeed, what are we, but "infants crying in the night, infants crying for the light?” and often our "only language is a cry." Let us, indeed, strive to desire wisely, and thus to ask wisely, but, at any rate, let us not hesitate to ask. If we are refused, we will yet be blessed a thousand-fold with his love. The true spirit of prayer is always blessed, and therefore always wise.
"Refused!" some will exclaim; "is not the prayer of faith always answered?" Yes, but what is the prayer of faith? Is confident expectation that our desires, our will, whatever it may be, will be accomplished—is this the prayer of faith? Is it not rather the prayer of presumption? The prayer of faith for external blessings is always conditioned upon the Divine will. "If it be thy will." "Thy will, not mine, be done." The prayer of faith is the simple confidence that He will accomplish our real good. But prayer makes his will our will, and thus in the true prayer of faith is our will also done. His will is always that all things shall work together for our good, and thus is our highest good accomplished. Thus prayer trains our moral nature, gradually brings our will in accordance with his will, which is the true goal of all our strivings.—Joseph Le Conte, Religion and Science, (New York: D. Appleton, 1898), pp. 322,323.