No prayer can be ethical when the
petitioner seeks for selfish advantage
over his fellows. Selfish and materialistic
praying is incompatible with the ethical
religions which are predicated on unselfish
and divine love. All such unethical praying
reverts to the primitive levels of pseudo magic
and is unworthy of advancing civilizations
and enlightened religions. Selfish praying
transgresses the spirit of all ethics
founded on loving justice.
Prayer must never be so prostituted
as to become a substitute for action.
All ethical prayer is a stimulus to action
and a guide to the progressive striving for
idealistic goals of superself-attainment.
In all your praying be fair; do not expect God
to show partiality, to love you more than his
other children, your friends, neighbors, even
enemies. All praying, whether individual or
communal, may be either egoistic or altruistic.
That is, the prayer may be centered on the self
or upon others. When the prayer seeks nothing
the one who prays nor anything for his fellows,
then such attitudes of the soul tend to the
levels of true worship. Egoistic prayers involve
confessions and petitions and often consist of
requests for material favors. Prayer is somewhat
more ethical when it deals with forgiveness
and seeks wisdom for enhanced self-control.
While the nonselfish type of prayer is
strengthening and comforting, materialistic
praying is destined to bring disappointment
and disillusionment as advancing scientific
discoveries demonstrate that man lives in
a physical universe of law and order.
The childhood of an individual or a race
is characterized by primitive, selfish, and
materialistic praying. And, to a certain
extent, all such petitions are efficacious in
that they unvarying lead to those efforts and
exertions which are contributory to achieving
the answers to such prayers. The real prayer
of faith always contributes to the augmentation
of the technique of living, even if such petitions
are not worthy of spiritual recognition.
But the spiritually advanced person should
exercise great caution in attempting to
discourage the primitive or immature
mind regarding such prayers.
The Urantia Book
Part III, 91, 4