Integrity and prayer

WHEN we buy strawberries and find that those at the bottom of the box are as good as those that show, we know we have been given a fair deal. We expect this and are grateful for it. Even in such simple ways we participate in the deep and wide yearning society has for integrity. This is true even though one sometimes hears that it is the public image that counts or that appearances alone will get people what they want. The integrity society yearns for includes honesty and candor. Individuals with integrity do not quietly compromise their standards. They are well aware that public acts flow from inner motives, desires, attitudes, and purposes.

It's right that we all be concerned with the state of our virtue. In striving to grow in integrity, everyone quietly rejoices in victories and works for a greater moral wholeness. Fortunately, we all have the illimitably useful resource of prayer with which to bring out even more of the integrity that is native to our genuine, God-created selfhood.

True prayer includes purification of thoughts and motives -- and therefore of all action. Christ Jesus pointed to the importance of the underlying thought, as opposed to mere appearance in prayer as well as in daily living. He thoroughly rejected hypocrisy. ``When thou prayest,'' he said, ``thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.... But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.''1

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All effective prayer must be entirely sincere. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The Father in secret is unseen to the physical senses, but He knows all things and rewards according to motives, not according to speech.''2

Integrity is basic to effective prayer, and the individual really desiring to heal, to help any situation, must begin with sincere and selfless motives. We do not pray that we will win out personally but rather that right will prevail. After all, divine law must be, and always is, victorious.

Praying from an honest basis, we come to see that it would be foolish to hope for good from prayer while at the same time attempting to manipulate God, the all-knowing -- to somehow change His purpose or persuade Him to act according to our personal wishes. In the quietude of sincere prayer we come face to face with our hopes and purposes and are forced to purify them.

Prayer is effective not only in helping the one praying but in blessing all humanity, for God, the Giver of all good, does not benefit one while depriving another. All are blessed by our humble turning to God to do His will, by our clear realization of His impartial goodness. As the sun shines on the whole landscape, not just selected portions, so God, divine Mind, the All-wise, pours out blessing universally.

Most important, prayer reveals man's wholly spiritual nature as the expression of God. The more thoroughly we perceive this nature and realize that it is our actual and only identity, the more we'll express the integrity inherent in our true selfhood. We'll see that virtue is natural. As the Apostle Paul put it, ``The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.''3

Expressing virtue, we're in agreement with divine Spirit, our true origin. To those acting on this realization, integrity becomes the fabric of daily practice and a blessing to all.

1Matthew 6:5, 6. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 15. 3Romans 8:16.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide. Psalms 26:1

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