WHEN we need something desperately, is there a ``harder'' way we can pray that will make our prayer work? The more we understand God, the clearer it will be to us what effective praying is, and how it works. The Bible tells us that God created man. As we read the Bible through, we begin to see that God made us good, in His image and likeness. We're like Him. As God is Spirit, we are the image and likeness of Spirit, not physical beings who have little recourse but to accept injury, sickness, and sin.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, saw in the Bible that this spiritual truth was the basis on which Christ Jesus healed. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures she reasons: ``Good cannot result in evil. As God Himself is good and is Spirit, goodness and spirituality must be immortal. Their opposites, evil and matter, are mortal error, and error has no creator. If goodness and spirituality are real, evil and materiality are unreal and cannot be the outcome of an infinite God, good.'' As we begin to realize that this is true, our prayers stop feeling ``desperate,'' and the assurance of divine Love's care gives us a calm peace.
One day I watched my child praying, sitting on the floor next to her cat. The expression on her face showed how much effort she was putting forth. Her cat had been sick for two days and wouldn't eat or play. This animal was her dear friend, and she was praying for her friend to get well. Her brother came in and looked at them for a minute. Then he tapped his sister on the shoulder and said softly, ``You don't have to pray so hard. God already knows everything.'' In a few minutes the little girl and the cat curled up together and fell asleep. A short while later, I heard giggling and a familiar rumpus going on. It was music to my ears. They were rejoicing over a healing.
Maybe what my son was trying to help his sister remember was that she didn't have to get God's attention. God never allows something evil to happen that He later has to find a way to fix. Prayer fixes our view of God and of ourselves. It helps us know that, in actual truth, what He makes is safe and can't be harmed. A verse in Jeremiah expresses it this way: ``I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.''
When we pray deeply to know God -- what He truly is and what He is doing -- it melts away the spiritual ignorance, or error, that evil is made up of. Praying deeply, instead of merely ``praying hard,'' brings us closer to God and to what God knows about us and His whole spiritual creation. Because God, divine Mind, made us, we have the ability to know Him. Knowing what God knows destroys disease and stops suffering.
In our daily experience we come face to face with hard, demanding situations that call forth every ounce of conscientious effort we can give. Christ Jesus never said that obeying and living his teachings would always be easy. To be a true Christian takes effort and striving. But the greatest breakthroughs come when we realize that we're not merely trying to be God's perfect likeness; we always have been. This inspiration deepens prayer and brings healing.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the June 4 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.