Pre-hindsight prayer

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Hindsight is 20/20. It's easy to look back to see how things could have been done better.

But what if you could look back from the future and see how things should have been done before they are done, and change what you do? If that sounds like science fiction – "Back to the Future" or "Early Edition," it is.

There is, though, a kind of "pre-hindsight" that is possible. It's not a premonition but an ability to see "the end from the beginning" as the book of Isaiah puts it in the Bible – to look back from a future vantage point on events or projects you're working on now – and see in advance that God's government, or spiritual goodness, prevailed. Not because we've successfully visualized success, but because goodness is the essence of God's government. It is the truth of all that is created, at all times, including times that we perceive as in the future.

While looking forward in this way might not predict the details of what is coming – and, one's preconceptions of what will transpire might prove inaccurate – we can be pre-assured that divine Love's eternal grace will appear as goodness and benefits for one and all.

The statement from Isaiah reads: "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (46:9, 10).

Isaiah didn't know all the details of what would constitute God's "pleasure" over forthcoming centuries when he made that statement. He did know, though, that the good that God intended to do would be done because he knew there "is none else" than infinite good at all times, in all places. So good was the only possible outcome of God's counsel, which "shall stand," as the Bible puts it.

Explaining how prophets were able to see ahead in this way, Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote, "The ancient prophets gained their foresight from a spiritual, incorporeal standpoint, not by foreshadowing evil and mistaking fact for fiction, – predicting the future from a groundwork of corporeality and human belief" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 84).

Prophecy based on trust in the inevitability and timelessness of God's allness is valid in the little things of our lives as well as the big things of humanity's salvation.

In my life, this kind of prayer has proved dependable in preparing for meetings that I help organize and facilitate. Hundreds of details need to knit together into one seamless whole. On the surface, this could be cause for anxiety, but by basing my expectations on God's goodness, I can approach each new meeting with the confidence that I'll be able to look back afterward and see how – not whether! – it went well.

This is far from a Pollyanna perspective. It's what I've come to know as scientific prayer – prayer based on an understanding of God's underlying law of good for all, and the impossibility of evil interfering with that. I've found such prayer has a helpful effect on idea-formulating, decisionmaking, and detail-arranging. Recently, for instance, after praying in this way before a major meeting, I found fresh ideas coming to me for the meeting's content. Then the personnel needed to make the new ideas practical came together. And the logistics fell into place so smoothly. Other things happened that couldn't have been engineered – the hotel changed our schedule to fit another client's needs, and the change improved our own agenda.

This confidence in good ahead, no matter the responsibility looming over us, has a name. It is the Christ, the message of God's inevitable goodness that animated Jesus, the greatest of healers. So much so that he could face his crucifixion with trust in the resurrection, which – with the gift of hindsight! – we know followed.

Pre-hindsight prayer is 20/20 vision for the future – seeing the inevitable divinely realized good ahead.

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