Emmet Fox was a Christian writer who flourished about 75 years ago. He wrote more poetically than most. He concentrated on very practical matters but always in light of how they could be successfully approached by a Christian aware of the infinite power of God and through prayer. He wrote a great deal about prayer and how it can be used to the greatest advantage. He was very popular among the earliest members of Alcoholics Anonymous because he was most excellent at bring spiritual practices into everyday life to overcome large and small difficulties. Below are nine short quotations from Fox that demonstrate how he mixes the eternal and the mundane in a manner seldom heard from a pulpit.
*A tragic mistake that is often made is to assume that the will of God
is bound to be something very dull and uninviting, if not positively
unpleasant. Consciously or not some persons look upon God as a
hard taskmaster, or a severe parent. . . . The truth is that the will of God
for us always means greater freedom, greater self-expression, newer and
brighter experience, wider opportunity of service to others—life more abundant.
*True Christianity is an entirely positive influence. It comes into a person's life to enlarge and enrich it,
to make it fuller and wider and better; never to restrict it. You cannot lose anything that is
worth having through acquiring a knowledge of the Truth. Sacrifice there has to be, but it is only
sacrifice of the things that one is much happier without--never of anything that is worth having.
Many people have the idea that getting a better knowledge of God will mean giving up things
that they will regret losing. One girl said: "I mean to take up religion later on when I am older,
but I want to enjoy myself for a while first." This, however, is to miss the whole point.
The things one has to sacrifice are selfishness, fear, and belief in necessary limitation
of any kind. Above all, one has to sacrifice the belief that there is any power or endurance
in evil apart from the power that we ourselves give it by believing in it.
*God has no office hours. There is never a time of day when God is unavailable.
Day or night, summer or winter, God is always present—always ready to heal, to comfort, to inspire.
It is not possible that you could turn to God in prayer without receiving help.
It is not possible that you could ever find yourself anywhere where God was not fully present,
fully active, able and willing to set you free from any difficulty. The one thing that is required is
that you shall turn to Him whole-heartedly, and that you shall expect Him to act. . . .
If you turn to God in prayer, without tension, without vehemence, but quietly,
steadily, and persistently, results will come.
*. . prayer is the only real action in the full sense of the word, because prayer is the only thing
that changes one's character. A change in character, or a change in soul, is a real change.
When that kind of change takes place, you become a different person and, therefore,
for the rest of your life you act in a different way from the way in which you have previously acted,
and in which you would have continued to act had you not prayed. In other words,
you become a different person. The amount of difference may be only very slight for each time that you pray: nevertheless it is there, for you cannot pray without making yourself different in some degree.
*There is a truly spiritual mode of communication from which
nothing but good can come. It is this: Sit down quietly and
remind yourself that the one God really is Omnipresent. Then
reflect that your real self is in the Presence of God now, and
that the real selves of others are also in the Presence of God.
Do this for a few minutes every day,
and sooner or later you will get a sense of communication.
*Prayer is always the solution. No matter what kind of difficulty may be facing you,
no matter how complicated your problem may seem – prayer can solve it. Of course
you will also take whatever practical steps seem to be indicated, and if you do not
know what steps to take, prayer will show you. Prayer is constantly bringing about
the seemingly impossible, and there is no conceivable problem that has not
at some time been solved by prayer.
When we remember that God really is omnipotent, untrammeled by what we call
time or space or matter, or the vagaries of human nature, it is easy to see that there
can be no limit to the power of prayer. You can pray about a problem and solve it
at any stage, but of course the earlier you tackle it the easier you
*The vital importance of forgiveness may not be obvious at first sight, but you may be sure
that it is not by chance that every great spiritual teacher from Jesus Christ downward
has insisted so strongly upon it. You must forgive injuries, not just in words, or as a matter
of form, but in your heart -- and that is the long and the short of it. You do this, not for
the other person's sake, but for your own sake. Resentment, condemnation, anger, desire
to see someone punished are things that rot your soul. Such things fasten your troubles
to you with rivets. They fetter you to many other problems that actually have nothing
to do with the original grievances themselves.
*Let us be merciful in our mental judgments of our brothers and sisters,
for, in truth, we are all one, and the more deeply they seem to err,
the more urgent is the need for us to help them with the right thought,
and so make it easier for them to get free.
*The present moment is never intolerable. It is always what is coming in five minutes
or five days that makes people despair. The Law of Life is to live in the present,
and this applies to both time and place. Keep your attention to the present moment,
and in the place where your body is now. Do a fair day's work, and then stop.
Overwork is not productive in the long run.