Cosmopolitan Magazine, Oct. 1907

Vol. XLIII No. 6

by Benjamin De Casseres

ALL rational pleasure is prayer; all sincere work and effort are prayers; all exaltation in the presence of beauty is prayer; all aspiration is prayer.

Prayer is an uplifting, a rising of the soul toward the object of its desire, an elevation of instinct.

All sincere thought is prayer. The doubts of skeptics are prayers, though they themselves would repudiate the term.

All strength that tends to elevate and glorify man is a prayer.

There are other modes of praying than with the lips. Galileo prayed with a telescope. Columbus prayed with a ship. Franklin prayed with a lightning-rod.

Knee-praying seems a puny thing when once we feel that the forests are the eternal fanes of nature; or when we stand on a mountain top, that everlasting natural altar; or when we bathe in sunlight, that incalculably aged censer.

Amid these natural objects awe, admiration, a sense of infinite force, of infinite life, of a duration that is eternal sweep through us in waves, leaving us humiliated with the sense of our own nothingness at the same time that it brings something of intellectual pride that we are part of that Hidden God.

All sublime emotion is prayer. A poem, a painting, a great essay, a beautiful face, the wreathing of a vine around a window, all exalt, generating wonder, amazement, and thankfulness.

Meanness, lying, cowardice, double-dealing, these are all blasphemies; they offend the dignity of the soul, and debase you in your own eyes. The blasphemies of the month are laughed away in the winds. They mean nothing. But the blasphemies of vile actions set in motion forces that must be combated through all time.

Man prays when he least knows it. The normal evolution of prayer is from the lip to the deed, from bare utterance to strong action.


This work was also published in The Winnipeg Tribune (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) on Oct. 17, 1907, p. 3. It was quoted in the following publications:

  • “Thought for the Day,” The Western Senitel (Winston-Salem, NC), Nov. 1, 1907, p. 4
  • The Western Senitel (Winston-Salem, NC), Nov. 5, 1907, p. 2
  • Washington News Letter (Washington, D.C.), May 1913, p. 510 [with two minor punctuation changes]

This work was reprinted in The Upper Room Bulletin at least three times:

  • May 5, 1917, pp. 318-319, unchanged
  • Jan. 29, 1921, pp. 229-230, with the following few changes:
    • The doubts of skeptics > The honest doubts of skeptics
    • mountain top > mountain-top
    • all exalt, generating wonder, amazement, and thankfulness. > all exalt the soul.
    • Meanness, lying, cowardice, double-dealing … > [paragraph removed]
  • May 13, 1922, p. 418
    • Only an excerpt of the first six paragraphs was printed.
    • Paragraphs 4 and 5 were combined into a single paragraph
    • Applicable edits from the Jan. 29, 1921 printing above were kept