Making our prayers more effective

Look, I prayed about this trouble and things haven't got any better. I've asked God to help me, but I don't see any improvement.'' This was the mental state I found myself in several years ago. But instead of just giving up, succumbing to this feeling of failure and hopelessness, I decided to turn to the Bible and see exactly what the Master, Christ Jesus, taught about prayer. As a result, I was completely healed.

Two things stood out to me from this study: first of all, the totally spiritual approach that Jesus took; and second, the absolute confidence he had that prayer would work.

''What things soever ye desire, when ye pray,'' our Master said, ''believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.'' n1 Or, as the Revised Standard Version puts it, ''Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it , and it will be yours.''

But how, in the midst of adversity, can we believe we have received the answer to prayer? This requires a spiritual view of God, man, creation; a perspective that transcends appearances.

n1 Mark 11:24.

We can learn from the Bible that God is unrestricted Spirit, the exclusive creator of all, and that everything He has made partakes of His nature as infinite good. This includes man, the image of God, who is never separate from his Maker. The true nature of creation, then, is spiritual and includes no evil, despite what the physical senses report.

These facts of being cannot be changed or undone. As the Bible puts it, ''I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it.'' n2

n2 Ecclesiastes 3:14.

The realization of spiritual truth gives a new dimension to prayer. The very basis of our efforts becomes the present perfection of God and man. Even in adversity, then, we can trust the effectiveness of prayer, because we realize that the truth of our being must inevitably come to light.

Getting results from prayer is never a matter of God favoring a particular person; nor does the potency of our utterance correspond to how loudly we pray. Rather, prayer is effective as we acknowledge and awake to our unity with God, the divine source of good and the Giver of infinite blessings.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept?'' And she adds farther along: ''Asking God to be God is a vain repetition. God is 'the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;' . . .'' n 3

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 2.

Knowing this on a consistent basis, and making the effort to shut out thoughts that would oppose the oneness, allness, and goodness of God, and man's relationship to Him, add conviction to prayer and aid its effectiveness.

''When thou prayest,'' Jesus instructed, ''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.'' n4

n4 Matthew 6:6.

Prayer that works is not just a matter of saying a few words, begging for betterment, and waiting for something to happen. The master Christian required that we enter into the closet and shut the door. This closet is a state of consciousness, a God-based mental posture that shuts out materialism and lets in divine wisdom and love.

No matter how trying the circumstances, how difficult the condition we may be facing, we can find healing through prayer. Because God is infinite Love, always providing for His creation, we have an immense resource to draw upon; a stockpile of good that can never be used up or depleted.

Through the realization that in truth I already had all good and could therefore triumph over adversity, I was able to deal successfully with the difficulty I mentioned at the beginning of this article. And what's more, my awakening to this higher standpoint has proved to be a milestone in my life.

Prayer based on a spiritual understanding of God and His creation can prove effective for any sincere individual. Just be persistent. God does answer our prayers. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. Psalms 66:19, 20

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