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Why pray?

March 3, 1987



A SIGN above a mission for street people reading ``WHY PRAY?'' seemed ridiculous to me, but as I slowed down, the second line of the sign came into view: ``WHEN YOU CAN WORRY!'' I realized that these words were a message to me. I was alerted to just what had been going on in my thinking--worrying instead of praying. An upcoming relocation that would affect a number of people, while apparently proceeding harmoniously, was nagging at me, and I had become anxious. I certainly should have known that fear in any form is not in accord with God's government. As we can learn from the Bible, there is but one God, who is totally good, and He causes good alone.

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Many proficient athletes feel that they must ``stay loose'' in order to perform effectively. But fear tends to produce the opposite effect in an athlete's experience as well as in our own. Anxious thoughts, indulged and not mastered, limit freedom of thinking and expression. Allowing a false sense of power to govern us invariably produces inadequate results, regardless of what we are doing.

But fear is, in the final analysis, a delusion, without power, even if it seems overwhelmingly threatening and valid. Why? Because the one infinite God is the only genuine power. Our need is to trust this fact and yield through prayer to God's government. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love.''1

In a very profound sense you cannot really be afraid and at the same time be in total obedience to the First Commandment of the Hebrew Decalogue, ``Thou shalt have no other gods before me.''2 Allowing fear to overwhelm you (to become a god to you) and obeying fully the First Commandment are mutually exclusive. They are states of thought that cannot exist simultaneously. We can fully expect the all-loving Father-Mother, God, to guide and protect us as we pay attention to the fundamental divine command to have but one God.

In answer to one who asked him what ``the great commandment in the law'' was, Christ Jesus declared, referring to the command in Deuteronomy 6:5, ``Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.''3 To do so is to experience a dissolving of fear.

To begin to eliminate the false god of fear is indeed possible to all of us, though it can't truly be accomplished by mere human will or by self-mesmerism. It is the Christ, the divine influence in each individual's consciousness, that enables us to think freely, wisely, fearlessly. We do have the God-given ability to discipline our thinking and to open it, through prayer, to the power of Christ so as not to let the false god of fear dominate our lives. Mrs. Eddy states: ``We cannot obey both God, good, and evil,--in other words, the material senses, false suggestions, self-will, selfish motives, and human policy. We shall have no faith in evil when faith finds a resting-place and scientific understanding guides man.''4

Every thought that presents a case for evil as legitimate needs to be rejected as illegitimate--without power, reality, intelligence, or substance. This is not to ignore evil but to confront it with the most effective remedy--the understanding of its fraudulence.

Acknowledging that the words on the sign were God's message to me, I prayed, affirming my right as His creation to be at peace, to be unafraid. Shortly all sense of concern left me, and I felt God in control. The next morning a telephone call came that totally canceled the planned relocation. Instead an entirely different relocation took place four months later. The wisdom of God's direction has become apparent, and many are being blessed by this move.

We can get rid of fear by a scientific confidence that God has the power, the intelligence, the supreme ability, to guide and protect us. And without fear, we have gained great freedom to accomplish God's purpose. That's why we pray.

1Science and Health, p. 106. 2Exodus 20:3. 3Matthew 22:37. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2