THE story of the prophet Elijah in the Bible offers a parallel for those who pray and, through their prayer, come to see God's presence and protecting care and their own nature as God's spiritual ideas. We read in First Kings that when Queen Jezebel threatened the life of the prophet Elijah, he fled into the wilderness, profoundly discouraged. Sleeping, he was roused by an angel, who gave him food and water.
After eating, he slept again, and was again aroused by the angel, who told him to eat once more. The story continues, ``And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God."
As we pray, sincerely and earnestly, we also gain clear glimpses of God's presence and gracious help. Then, like Elijah, we may have to travel our forty days and nights. But we can trust that while we are doing whatever is necessary, our prayerful perceptions do not unravel. They remain true and applicable. They journey with us. We need to recognize this and maintain our inspiration, knowing that that which is spiritually true remains true. Its strength builds on the inspiration we have already gained an d keeps us going as far as we must go.
What have been shown to us in prayer are not human vagaries but God's spiritual ideas. They are more solid than rock. They do not erode, crush, or metamorphose. For example, Christ Jesus taught the simple but remarkable fact that God is Love. Millions who have perceived and explored the truth of that spiritual fact have had their thought uplifted and their experience enhanced and healed. And God will still be Love when the pyramids are dust.
If we are ever tempted to think, ``Oh, those were pretty thoughts, but I'm in a real mess," we should strongly refute this serpentine notion. We should rethink the spiritual reasoning of our prayer and by this means reconfirm the clarity of our previous insight. At that point we are again responding to the angel's arousing, and we are again refreshed with the spiritual perceptions and dedication that carry us forward.
We can confirm God's love through prayer and by recalling the redemptive experiences divine Love has already given us. Divine Love uplifts, harmonizes, and advances goodness in the lives of all who accept it.
Of course, we cannot be complacent about prayer, saving it for an hour of convenience. We must regularly clarify God's allness in our thought. This does not mean, however, that God's truth ceases to apply when we are attending to some other needed project. Even then we carry the spiritual conclusions of our prayer with us. The prophet Samuel noted when God saved the Israelites from the Philistines: ``Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." And we also can be confident that God, divine Truth, continues to aid us.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The footsteps of thought, rising above material standpoints, are slow, and portend a long night to the traveler; but the angels of His presence--the spiritual intuitions that tell us when `the night is far spent, the day is at handare our guardians in the gloom." Being confident that these spiritual intuitions, once perceived, stay with us, helps us maintain our strength with praye r as we work to progress spiritually.