The doctrine of the material efficacy of prayer reduces the Creator to a cosmic bellhop of a not very bright or reliable kind.
--Herbert J. Muller, educator, historian, and author (1905-1980)
(7:3.6) Conversely, if your supplications are purely material and wholly self-centered, there exists no plan whereby such unworthy prayers can find lodgment in the spirit circuit of the Eternal Son. The content of any petition which is not "spirit indited" can find no place in the universal spiritual circuit; such purely selfish and material requests fall dead; they do not ascend in the circuits of true spirit values. Such words are as "sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal."
(91:1.3) But the primitive mind was neither logical nor consistent. Early men did not perceive that material things were not the province of prayer. These simple-minded souls reasoned that food, shelter, rain, game, and other material goods enhanced the social welfare, and therefore they began to pray for these physical blessings. While this constituted a perversion of prayer, it encouraged the effort to realize these material objectives by social and ethical actions. Such a prostitution of prayer, while debasing the spiritual values of a people, nevertheless directly elevated their economic, social, and ethical mores.
(91:2.2) Prayer has sometimes become so materialistic that it has degenerated into a pseudomagical technique of avoiding the expenditure of that effort which is requisite for the solution of Urantian problems.
(91:4.1) 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.
(91:4.3) Egoistic prayers involve confessions and petitions and often consist in requests for material favors.
(91:4.4) 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.
(146:2.10) Guard against the great danger of becoming self-centered in your prayers. Avoid praying much for yourself; pray more for the spiritual progress of your brethren. Avoid materialistic praying; pray in the spirit and for the abundance of the gifts of the spirit.
Herbert J. Muller (1905–1980) was an American historian, academic, government official and author. He was educated at Cornell University. He taught at Cornell, Purdue and Indiana University (1959-1980), served in the Department of State, the War Production Board, and frequently lectured abroad.
He is the author of The Uses of the Past, a sweeping inquiry into the lessons of history, focusing on Rome & Greece, Christianity & Judaism, the Byzantine empire, the Middle Ages, and Russia & China.
In 1973 Muller was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto II.
Herbert Muller's two sons are Richard and John. His grandfather, Otto Muller, was the younger brother of Hermann J. Muller, the father of American geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller Jr. Great-grandfather Nicholas Muller came to the United States from Germany in 1848 and with his brother Karl founded the Muller Art Metal Works.
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