This question implies that prayer is a do-nothing approach to problem solving. And when we approach prayer as ''just prayer'' - as a futile, halfhearted, last-ditch effort to rescue ourselves - is it any wonder that our prayer doesn't bring conclusive results?
But, in fact, prayer that declares and accepts the inseparability of God and His creation is the most effective remedy in the world. The power of God's love and God's law is unfailing. No problem is beyond the reach of His mighty care. No situation is too complex for infinite intelligence. No disease is too serious or advanced for the great Physician. Prayer is our means for proving these facts.
Christ Jesus indicated that prayer is effective when one confidently believes in its efficacy. He instructed a father on one occasion, before restoring his child who had died, ''Be not afraid, only believe.'' n1 And prior to another healing he said, ''If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.'' n2
n1 Mark 5:36.
One might then ask, If believing is essential to effective prayer, how can I learn to believe more? This entails understanding God's nature better. From Christian Science, in harmony with the Bible, we learn and relearn that God is the one and only creator; that He has not delegated His role as creator to another and never shares that role. We discover that God truly is omnipotent and omnipresent.
Christian Science also shows that because man is the creation of God, it's natural for us to express complete confidence in Him. God has not made man to distrust or doubt his creator.
It is evil that suggests prayer is useless or impractical. But prayer is action of the highest sort. From the stillness of prayer emerge our greatest decisions.
However, we get in the habit of making decisions and then praying for God to bless what we have done. Isn't this a little like the scuba diver putting on his face mask after he is well below the water's surface? To see the way clearly, we need to commune with God before diving into the challenge at hand.
Christ Jesus instructs us, ''When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.'' n3 Putting prayer first may initially seem time-consuming and burdensome, but as we begin to see the power of prayer and the peace it brings, we will be much more apt to shut the door.
n3 Matthew 6:6
The more we pray, the more indispensable prayer becomes to us. We begin to see the great substance, joy, and vitality of communing with our creator and perceive that turning to God is the proper approach to resolving every problem.
The truth of God's perfect fatherhood and man's perfect sonship, which Jesus proved through his healing ministry, needs to be prayerfully acknowledged as often as possible. Because illegitimate, sensual distractions would minimize our love for prayer, we may need to practice praying and to cultivate the meekness, persistence, and discipline that facilitate inspired prayer. If we feel unable to pray, we can resolve to learn how to do so. Certainly we can count on God to bless us in this effort to know Him better.
Mary Baker Eddy n4 devotes the opening chapter of the Christian Science textbook to the subject of prayer. In one passage she states, ''If we pray to God as a corporeal person, this will prevent us from relinquishing the human doubts and fears which attend such a belief, and so we cannot grasp the wonders wrought by infinite, incorporeal Love, to whom all things are possible.'' n5
n4Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n5 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13.
The essence of prayer, then, is to be thoroughly persuaded that God, ''incorporeal Love,'' is perfectly governing. In prayer we do not make this truth true, but we awake to the reality of God's unfailing control. We learn to trust God's love completely. We come to understand that God has not allowed sin and disease to enter His creation, and we spiritually protest against any evidence to the contrary. Through a perception of divine reality, transcending appearances, we prayerfully proclaim, All is well. DAILY BIBLE VERSE In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6