One of the things I love about prayer is the way it can bring a new idea zinging into thought. Not just any idea, but one that meets a need. I was a young newlywed when that first happened to me.
One day I opened my thought to God without any agenda. I just wanted to think about God, to hear what He might be saying. Right away the idea came to consider the concept of "wilderness." And though I didn't know where it would lead, I was willing to ponder it.
A wilderness can be an inhospitable, even forbidding, place - barren, dry, lifeless. I asked myself, If I were in an uninhabitable desert place, what would I want to do? Leave! was my first thought. And if I saw no way out? The next idea came quickly: Plant it.
Suddenly this spiritual search had meaning for me.
Just as planting and caring for a wilderness bring transformation, a mental "planting" process could radically change my thought - and, intuition told me, my experience.
The Bible is eloquent about God's promises in wilderness places. For example, "The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing" (Isa. 35:1, 2).
As I pondered passages like this, a spiritual sense of beauty filled my heart.
This prayer was like watching a garden come into bloom after a long, cold winter. Qualities such as fullness, color, variety, coolness, and refreshment were "planted" in my consciousness and replaced the desert description I'd been considering.
And there was more to come. After a couple of days, an acquaintance asked if we needed any furniture. In fact, our apartment was extremely bare, containing only a chair, a bed, and a lamp. This new friend told me about someone who was selling all her belongings, and asked if I'd like a preview. Though we had no extra money, I offered to help prepare for the sale.
What a transformation ensued. The furniture being sold was nearly new, in a style and color my husband and I loved. The owner offered it to us at a very low price and suggested partial payments over time - even though we were comparative strangers and she was moving out of the country within the week. She included several decorative items, and in two days our apartment was completely furnished.
A coincidence? Some might think so. But I believe that a divine idea brought a swift and precise outcome - tangible goodness in place of emptiness.
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy described miracles in this way: "That which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly; a phenomenon of Science" (p. 591). She also wrote, "A miracle fulfils God's law, but does not violate that law" (p. 134).
To me, the way we obtained the furniture was a miracle - the "divinely natural" matching of our growing understanding that good is spiritual, operating according to God's law, with our immediate need for furnishings.
Since that time I've thought about a lot of concepts from a spiritual perspective - ideas such as home, health, and companionship. I've watched others plant mental wildernesses, too, and seen that no barrenness can withstand the transforming power of prayer.
The prophet Isaiah puts it this way: "The Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Isa. 51:3).