The teacher of a Sunday School class of ten-year-olds had just finished read-ing Paul's admonition, ''Pray without ceasing.'' n1
n1 I Thessalonians 5:17.
''What do you think Paul meant?'' the teacher asked. ''What do you think it means to pray without ceasing?''
Silence fell upon the class. Finally, a young lad piped up, ''It's when you never say 'Amen.' ''
Never say ''Amen'' -- never stop praying! What a wonderful way to live, praying so freely, so constantly!
Impossible? Not really. Not if we know how to pray. Sometimes when we discuss with others the need for prayer, we meet resistance. ''But God doesn't answer prayer,'' someone may insist, '' -- at least he doesn't answer mym prayers.'' ''I've prayed and prayed,'' another may say, ''but nothing ever happens!''
We might then ask, ''But what did you pray for?'' Most often it turns out that the individual wanted something handed to him, as the saying goes, on a silver platter. And perhaps what he wanted wasn't a legitimate need.
Isn't this the kind of prayer James was referring to when he said, ''Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts''? n2
n2 James 4:3
Isn't there something, too, to be learned about the way we pray? Couldn't it be that ignorance of God and His works needs to give way, as we pray, to a more appreciative understanding of Him and of the harmony of His creation? From the standpoint of Christian Science, prayer is not a pleading with God to do something, or to be what He isn't. Rather, it's a willingness to acknowledge His allness and goodness. Even more, it's a willingness to behold what He has already done for us and all His children.
Christian Science, in harmony with the Bible, teaches that God is Spirit, and that His creation, including man, is therefore spiritual and perfect. Spirit is also the one, infinitely intelligent Mind, which knows all the needs of its creation and cares for those needs. Prayer aligns our thought with this truth of being. It enables us to perceive the completeness and perfectness of God and man so that we can progressively conform our motives and acts to this perfection.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, begins the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m with a chapter entitled ''Prayer.'' There she writes, ''The habitual struggle to be always good is unceasing prayer.'' n3
n3 Science and Health, p. 4
Think what reformation would overtake the world if, instead of pleading with God to overlook our sins, we offered our lives to God in prayer; if, instead of waiting for the other fellow to change his wrong behavior, his wrong motives or desires, we changed ours.
Such spiritual growth isn't impossible or impractical. The Bible reveals the truth of creation, the truth of man's being, and the teachings of Christ Jesus assure us this truth is understandable, demonstrable.
Though the material senses and human reasoning may argue that we do need a better job, a larger house, a nicer car, more money for college, aren't our real needs, our deepest needs, spiritual? If we pray for more purity, love, and integrity, from the depths of our heart, God will answer our prayers. When we realize that these qualities belong to us as His likeness, our lives will begin to conform to our prayers, and we'll find that all our human needs are met. This is the spiritual law Jesus proclaimed for all when he said, ''Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.'' n4
n4 Matthew 6:33
So it is possible to pray without ceasing. There is never a moment when we should stop our struggle to be always good, to steadfastly honor God by expressing our true, spiritual nature. DAILY BIBLE VERSE By their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 7:20,21