Effective Prayer

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Many times we learn a lot by stepping back and looking at things from a fresh perspective. Take prayer, for example. Millions of people pray. A majority of those who pray probably wish their prayers were more fruitful. It would seem that people are forever wanting and that God is most of the time withholding. But that just can't be right.

Is God a difficult boss or lord, to whom we have to beg and beg and beg in order to gain some smidgen of favor? Is God simply standing on the sidelines, watching to see if we'll make it? Has God actually sent us the problems that afflict us? And is prayer simply a cosmic lottery that grants its prizes to a precious few, with no real rhyme or reason? Perhaps you've been led to believe or think some of these things. But doesn't something deep down inside of you rebel? Don't you instinctively feel that this can't be the nature of either God or of true prayer?

The more we actually understand the power and presence of God's goodness, the more convinced we become that any view of God as aloof, judgmental, cold, is all wrong. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble," the Scriptures tell us (Psalms 46:1). "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:6). "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalms 23:1). "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Psalms 91:11). These Bible verses reveal that God is good, a fount of love, a strong, vital presence.

What is your concept of God? To whom are you going to pray? To an aloof, frightening, inscrutable god or to the true God, known as divine Love, the giver of all good? The "address" one puts on prayer makes a big difference. Prayers based on a wrong concept of God pile up in the in-box, gathering dust, while prayers based on God as divine Love receive an immediate response.

When Jesus Christ prayed, the sick recovered, the blind saw, the insane were found in their right mind, the palsied picked up their beds and walked away. No wonder one of Jesus' disciples came to him and said, "Teach us to pray." He gave them what we call the Lord's Prayer (see Luke 11:1 and Matthew 6:9-13). Consider this line from that prayer: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Doesn't this tell us that both God's will and the effect of His will should be as evident here on earth as they are in heaven? Think about all the things Jesus did while on earth. He not only healed the sick; he also fed the hungry, reformed the sinner, controlled the elements, and raised the dead. His actions taught that health, good care, purity, harmony, and life are God's will for us.

Does anyone believe that people are sick or hateful or poverty-stricken in heaven? No, a heavenly sense of being is where not even a shadow of such things appears. Earth should be heavenly. That is why Jesus' prayer is so momentous. Its power proves that God's will is as active and present and powerful here on earth as it is in heaven. Giving a spiritual interpretation of this line, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science written by Mary Baker Eddy, says, "Enable us to know,-as in heaven, so on earth,-God is omnipotent, supreme" (p. 17).

"Thy will be done" is not a prayer of resignation to a mistaken belief that evil, loss, discord, or death may be God's will. It is an affirmation that the power of God is as active here as in heaven, bringing an abundance of good, harmony, health, and life into our experience. It is a prayer that destroys sickness and sin. It grows out of the acceptance of Jesus' declarations "The kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15) and "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).

Science and Health begins with a chapter called "Prayer," which explores the basis of effective prayer. Christian Science teaches that a correct understanding of God and His will is essential. The truth this Science reveals is available to all. Anyone can learn it and practice it right now.

You'll find more articles about God and prayer in a monthly magazine called The Christian Science Journal.

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