Transforming Prayer

HER family seemed trapped in a web of difficulties. ``I can't see any possibility for change on the horizon -- that's what sinks my heart,'' she confided to her friend. When her friend shared some ideas he'd learned about prayer through his study of Christian Science, she listened and became so interested that she took up the study of it, too. After that, her experience changed to such a degree that she described her ``old'' life as ``a badly written story that finally began to be revised.'' This woman felt new -- full of hope. It didn't all happen overnight. But from the point where she began to pray with more understanding, a steady shift in the tide of events was noticeable.

A good look into Christ Jesus' ministry makes it obvious he understood that sickness, moral confusion, and victimization are not God's will and are not sustained by His law. It's on this basis that healing and progress can take place through prayer.

God is absolute, eternal Truth. His creation expresses His changeless nature, His goodness and perfection. Since God made man in His spiritual likeness, we are, in truth -- in our real selfhood -- absolutely good and perfect, and we can't change from that perfect status. Reasoning from these spiritual facts has a healing effect. As the absoluteness of good becomes clearer to us, our human experience is often dramatically improved.

Christ Jesus announced his mission of salvation and the terms for its acceptance when he said, ``Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'' The word repent is translated from a Greek word meaning ``to change one's outlook'' or ``to revise one's whole way of thinking.'' Instead of believing that we have to wait for other people to change (or for them to get out of our way), we can repent of (give up) our belief in the lie that says man is material, separated from God, subject to unavoidable suffering.

Christian reformation is quite literally a re-forming of the way we think and act. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, discovered that prayer based on an understanding of Spirit's absoluteness can completely reform an individual, even bringing transformation to the physical body and healing it. Since God is absolute, she reasoned, He must govern His creation through absolute, divine law. Prayer reforms our thinking by bringing it into line with God's law. ``Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it,'' Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

At first, it might seem surprising that coming into closer harmony with God could really result in significant changes on the human scene. But prayer shouldn't be overlooked as the key to accomplishing what otherwise might seem formidable. If we're serious about the role prayer can play in changing lives, we won't fool ourselves by substituting for conscientious prayer some dreamy ecstasy. Prayer requires within us a desire so pure -- and a consecration to Christ's teachings so deep -- that it has a powerful effect. Forms of evil that may have appeared very ``absolute'' and ``real'' begin to lessen their grip.

The crucial part is to live our prayer -- especially when we may be tempted to think this is too hard or won't do any good. When we successfully replace whatever doesn't represent Christliness in our thoughts and actions with what does, this reformation, though often hard-won, brings healing. Then we see that our prayer has aligned us with divine Principle. This brings a conviction of Truth's absolute allness that simply can't be overwhelmed.

This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the August 6 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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