MANY people say prayers every day. Probably more people pray daily in some way than those who don't. Yet there are countless people in the world who are uncertain about God's existence and about how to pray, and who doubt that He answers prayers. Prayer is individual. It takes many forms. But we might say that humility is the heart of all prayer. Acknowledging God as the one ever-present power, the supreme creator without whom we can do nothing, opens thought to receive God's blessings. Putting our trust in Him instead of ourselves -- or human will or fear of failure -- opens our hearts to experience His constant love and care.
Humility embraces a sincere desire to know and do God's will. It includes a willingness to follow the guidance of our creator wherever it may lead us. The Apostle James wrote: ``Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.''1 The key to humility is found in Christ Jesus' words ``Not my will, but thine, be done.''2
How does one get started praying? There are many ways. We might sing hymns of praise to God or get into the heart of a Bible verse. Listening to the words we say while yearning to obey God's will opens new vistas of divine goodness.
One time I became sick in a hotel room in a large city. I telephoned a Christian Science practitioner (one who helps people through prayer in time of need), who suggested I quietly contemplate the twenty-third Psalm. He said he would pray for me.
Knowing this psalm by heart, I settled myself in bed and began considering the first verse: ``The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.'' Then I reasoned: What healing message is here for me? If I truly understand that God is shepherding me, can I possibly be in want? God is everywhere; He is here. He is all-powerful Love, as the Bible teaches. He is loving me, now. Why? Because I am His beloved child.
I realized that God made man, my true selfhood, in His own image, spiritual and perfect, not material and vulnerable. God in His goodness makes only good. Because sickness is not good, it is illegitimate, no part of God's creation, and it can be destroyed through that understanding. With God shepherding me, I couldn't be helpless.
``He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.''3 What did the green pastures and still waters mean to me? A place for quiet rest where my hunger and thirst for an understanding of my true, Godlike selfhood would be satisfied. I had been wishing I were home in my own bed instead of where I was. But I realized that right where I was I could enjoy ``the still waters'' of purified thought that bring healing.
In my sincere desire to let God's will be done, fear dissipated and I dropped off to sleep. About an hour later I woke refreshed, completely free and able to fulfill my obligations.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, -- a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.''4 Absolute faith in God's ability to heal all ills is gained, step by step, as we humbly ask Him to show us how to pray rightly. Study of the Bible and a desire to know the deeper meaning of the words -- their healing, regenerating, spiritual meaning -- will help illuminate the way for humanity and lead those who turn to God in prayer ``in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.''5
1James 4:10. 2Luke 22:42. 3Psalms 23:2. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 1. 5Psalms 23:3. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. Psalms 30:2