I used to have a great distrust of prayer. It looked to me as if some people who prayed had their prayers answered, and others didn't. Was unanswered prayer discrimination? And if so, on what basis did the discriminating occur? I didn't want to have any part in such an unfair practice, so I decided to stop praying.
But there came a time when a loved one was in distress, and I found myself praying in spite of myself. It was an "Oh, please, God, won't you help?" imploring kind of prayer -- the very kind I'd disliked most. After a while harmony was restored, and I was left with the realization that when things got bad enough, I wouldm pray.
What was to be done? Clearly, I had to find a better way to reach out to God. Shortly after my experience of reluctant praying, I began to study Christian Science. That was when I found out that it wasn't prayer, but my sensem of prayer, that was so abhorrent to me.
In the Christian Science textbook by Mary Baker Eddy n1 I read, "God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love." n2 Then I began seeing that prayer could be more than a frantic petition. It could include, for instance, affirmation and denial. That is, a mental affirmation that God and His kingdom of good are all- powerful. And a denial that evil is power at all. This latter meant I had to watch my thinking to make sure I wasn't giving reality or power to things I knew a God who is Love wouldn't and couldn't make -- things like sickness and sin. I rejected them as no part of divine reality.
n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Sciptures p. 2
When I prayed about things in this way -- when I refused to believe that God creates evil and instead acknowledged in life as well as thought that God's harmony is always present -- my circumstances started to improve. Later I learned that when I considered the synonyms for God given in the Christian Science textbook, n3 I was able to make my prayer even more effective because it became more specific. The snynonyms are:
I discovered that as I affirmed the presence of Life, I was just naturally affirming the presence of Life's qualities -- vitality, joy, inspiration, and so on. An admission of the availability of Truth necessarily meant that honesty, integrity, and true self-knowledge must be active in my thought; while a direct acknowledgement of divine Love included warmth and affection as present possibilities.
n3 See ibid,m p. 465
Reasoning from cause to effect (God the only cause, man the spiritual effect) , I found that this kind of praying could be applied specifically to any facet of human life. But I had to make sure I wasn't denying with my life what I was affirming in prayer!
Does this illustrate Jesus' immensely effective prayer? Certainly his life was living proof of his love for God and man, and certainly his prayers healed sin and sickness and even death. When we really yearn for divine Love enough to sincerely acknowledge Truth and courageously and persistently deny power to evil , there's always a response. Jesus asked, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" n4
n4 Matthew 7:9-11
With Jesus' words to reassure us, and his example to look up to, we can all start reaching out to God right now. We don't have to wait, and we don't have to be hampered by a wrong sense of prayer. The right concept of prayer does bring us closer to God. It does heal today.
n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science; n2 Science and Health with Key tothe Scriptures, p. 2m p.2; n3 See ibidm ., p. 465; n4 Matthew 7:9-11 %% DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth. Psalms 119: 151