When a person is interested in praying more frequently and more effectively, he often encounters various forms of resistance. Thoughts of lack - such as lack of time, lack of discipline, or lack of incentive - may present themselves as immovable walls. Even individuals who are well acquainted with the healing uplift and peace of prayer often face this resistance. How can we break through it?
There is no substitute for persistence. We may be inclined to think that prayerful inspiration should come rushing into consciousness on a random, spontaneous, unannounced basis. And this is sometimes the case. But often the activity of prayer is like hiking a steep trail. We usually begin, not at the summit, but rather at the ''trail head.'' The trail head of prayer is a hungering heart - a life that yearns to know God more intimately.
Evil, in a host of forms, would keep us from moving beyond the trail head. So if we aren't getting anywhere, we may need to see that God, who calls us to more frequent prayer, also enables us to commune more consistently with Him.
When we glimpse that prayer is a natural activity, impelled and supported by God Himself, we can refute the illegitimate thoughts that resist our journey forward. For example, if the thought of limited time meets us at the outset of prayer, we might need to realize that the flow of ideas from God to man is immediate and uninterrupted; that God and man, the divine Mind and its reflection, are inseparable. Time has no authority to halt man's love for God or God's love for man.
St. Paul frequently urged his contemporaries not to procrastinate in accepting God's saving power. He wrote, ''Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'' n1
n1 II Corinthians 6:2.
If one meets the thought that he is ill-equipped for effective prayer, he can turn to a proven guide, the Holy Bible, a book packed with guidance on how to pray. For further instruction he might turn to a book used over the past century by thousands of individuals seeking the summit of prayer. This book, written by Mary Baker Eddy, n2 is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.m Its very first chapter is entitled ''Prayer.''
n2 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
Science and Healthm shows that we all, as children of God, have been endowed by Him with spiritual sense. ''Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God,'' n3 writes Mrs. Eddy. We all, then, are equipped to prayerfully know God's infinite goodness and healing care.
n3 Science and Health, p. 209.
Would a kind human parent give one of his children sturdy boots and another child broken sandals for hiking a rugged mountain trail? Of course not. Similarly, God, our eternal Parent, has vested each of us with the necessary ''equipment'' to pray effectively.
Finally, what if one faces a lack of incentive at the trail head? Do we have to be facing a threatening crisis to pray with fervor and diligence? The Lord's Prayer, taught by Christ Jesus to his followers, includes this phrase: ''Give us this day our daily bread.'' n4 If we consider bread to mean not just food but spiritual sustenance, we realize the importance of prayer. We should no more skip fervent daily prayer than daily eating. Evil should never be allowed to deprive one of his necessary communion with God.
n4 Matthew 6:11.
The incentive to pray increases as we begin to see prayer's transforming, renewing, energizing effects. The beautiful vistas that come into view as we climb spiritually higher reward our persistent efforts to conquer all resistance to prayer. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he wil flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:7, 8, 10