Praying First

WHEN things aren't going well, we may try every imaginable human means to solve our problem. And if all else fails, if we are really desperate, we pray! So it's a great discovery to realize that it pays to pray first -- before things get out of hand. But how, in a busy world, can we find the time or the quiet necessary for prayer? We can begin with the desire to know God better and let that desire lead us into the ways and means we need. In the chapter titled ``Prayer'' in her major work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.''1

The humility to trust God for aid in every aspect of our lives is a spiritual quality that requires mental self-discipline. As we strive to be still and to listen to what the Bible calls the ``still small voice,'' we find ourselves becoming quieter, more peaceful. It may take more than one try, but your perseverance will be rewarded by clearer thinking and by a more reasoned approach to your problems. Instead of being pushed around by demands, you will be able to think about them more carefully and with more inspiration.

Recently I found it hard to discipline myself to pray even though I knew from Christ Jesus' life that prayer is essential. And the more I gave up this discipline, the harder it became to get needed things done. I was, in effect, letting the projects dictate my day to me instead of letting prayer lead me through it. When I became aware of what was happening, I knew what I had to do. Hundreds of years ago, the Psalmist had sung the words that were the solution to my problem: ``Be still, and know that I am God.''2 First, ``Be still,'' then ``know that I am God.'' The basis for knowing God, for experiencing His abundant good, is to be still enough to realize His presence and power in our lives.

The materiality that would run us ragged is the so-called carnal mind. It is constantly yammering or enticing us into indulging in its distractions. Sometimes they're easy to spot: junk entertainment, daydreaming, a too-compelling hobby. Other times, these distractions seem so subtle that we don't recognize their presence: job responsibilities, a deadline, even plain old garden variety fear!

So our task is first to recognize that these distractions or fears cannot run our lives. In spiritual reality, they are totally nonexistent, therefore irrelevant to the man whom God created. And this man -- your and my real identity -- is subject only to the Mind which is God. We are, in fact, spiritual ideas, invulnerable to the carnal mind's insinuations that we cannot pray.

It takes practice to think this way. But the results can be literally life-changing. We find our health improving, our work being accomplished with greater ease and accuracy. Relationships are strengthened when we begin each contact with quiet affirmation that in truth all are God's children, precious to Him. And so in the case of my super-busyness, I recalled my spiritual right to be subject to God, never to the demands of the carnal mind. I knew that the divine Mind, God, was governing His creation -- and that included me! As a result, my poise and peace were restored.

The blessings of prayer include more stability, a progressive life. Prayer keeps us safe even in the midst of trouble -- but it also enables us more often to avoid trouble in the first place. So don't wait until some difficulty arises. Pray first. Pray now. Pray often. Be still enough to hear God's direction. You will be glad!

1Science and Health, p. 1. 2Psalms 46:10. Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.

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