April 25th, 1917.
Received by James Padgett
I am here, St. John, Apostle of Jesus.
Well, He answers the prayers for things material by the work and operation of His angels and spirits, and they in that work are subject to the limitations of success as I have above mentioned. God does not exercise any arbitrary power to answer prayers, but when they are sincerely offered to Him, He works through His angels in answering them, and He does not by His mere fiat do so. His angels are always watching and working, and when the opportunity comes, they use their influence in the best possible way to bring about the ends desired.
As you know, man has a free will, and that determines very largely the action of men, and such actions are never arbitrarily controlled by any Divine power. If the prayers of men as to material things can be responded to by the workings of the angels and spirits, they are; but if such response depends upon the will of men, then they are not received by mortals, except as the spirits may be able to influence that will and cause men to act in compliance with that influence, which is always used for the purpose of bringing about the response to the prayers that are, in their nature, proper and worthy to be answered.
Well, I doubt if any of those petitions were ever answered in the arbitrary way that is related in the Old Testament. God never answers prayer in that manner, and the petitions of the old prophets had no more influence to bring about the answers to the same, in the manner indicated, than have the prayers of the sincere and earnest man of these days. God was the same then as He is now, and worked through the spirits then as He does now, except that now He has angels of the soul development in the Divine Love, that He did not then have, and these angels are doing His bidding as well as are the spirits. But He does not answer prayers for material things except in a manner in consonance with laws controlling the free will and actions of men, as they may be operated upon and influenced by the work of spirits.
Sometime I will come and write you a message on this subject of prayer and answer. But this I want to say, that we can at times understand what will happen in the near future, and having such knowledge, can tell to mortals what may be expected, or rather what will occur, and this we sometimes do.
In your case, we all of the higher spheres, as well as many of the spirit spheres, know what your petitions have been in reference to these material matters, and we have been working to bring about a realization of the same on your part - not only because of your petitions, but because they are so necessary to the doing and completion of our work; and we have been using our influence to the utmost to accomplish this end. But as I say, we are all limited, and have not the power to cause the happening of any event by our mere willing the same, even though we are doing the work of the Father.
This may seem surprising as well as disappointing to you, but it is a fact, and it is a great truth that God helps those who help themselves. Of course, you must not lose sight of the fact that while men must themselves do those things that bring about changes or happenings or phenomena in material things, yet we can influence - but not control absolutely - their desires and intentions, and their wills that put into operation or effect these intentions. No, these things, as to their immediate manifestations, are subject to the wills of men. God never by a mere act of the moment or of a physical character, places into the hands of any man riches or prosperity. These things must immediately be wrought and brought about by man, but man in doing this can and is wonderfully influenced by the workings of the spirits.
Well, that is a question that has caused men to doubt and consider and explain in various ways the so-called miracle of the loaves and fishes. As I was a disciple of the Master at that time, it is quite natural that I should be expected to state whether such a miracle ever occurred, and of course, I can state what the fact in relation thereto is. And notwithstanding that it has been used by preachers and teachers for many centuries to show the wonderful power possessed by Jesus, and thereby cause the people to believe in and accept him as God, or at least having God-like powers, and has been used to work much good among those who were seeking for the true religion, yet I am compelled and sorry to say, that no such miracle ever took place. While Jesus had wonderful powers, and understood the workings of the spiritual laws to a far greater extent than any mortal who ever lived, yet he had not the power to increase the loaves and fishes as is set forth in the account of the miracle. To be able to do so would be against the laws of God governing the material things of His creation, and also beyond and outside of the powers conferred on any man or angel by any spiritual laws.
There are certain laws by which we who are acquainted with and use them and may cause a dematerialization of physical substances, and also may to a limited degree cause a materialization of spiritual substances, but I am not acquainted with any law that would have operated, under the control of Jesus, to increase the loaves and fishes to the great number mentioned in the story referred to. As a fact, I know that no such miracle took place, and Jesus will tell you the same. There are other alleged miracles in the Bible that never had any existence as a fact.
Well, I have written you a long letter tonight, and I must stop, but I am pleased that you asked me about the response to prayers, and the miracle of the loaves and fishes, for your questions gave me the opportunity, to some extent, to explain these matters. But, as to prayer, you must wait until I deal with it more at large or in detail before you conclude that you understand the subject fully.
And I say to you pray not only for the spiritual things which God bestows through His Holy Spirit, but also for the material things which He bestows through His angels and spirits. The proper prayer will be answered sooner or later, and your prayer for that of which I have written will be answered, even though to you the response may seem a long time delayed. With my love and blessings, I will say good night.
Your brother in Christ,