Get ready, get set, go!'' Whether we're competing or not, these words can stir us. And they tell us something important: you can't go without getting ready!
That's one of the best reasons for praying. It prepares us for our moments and our days. Praying to God is more than just asking for good. It's also the art of listening to God. Sometimes we get so busy asking that it's hard to hear the answer.
Praying is also a protection, like putting on warm clothing before going out into the cold, or being sure there's enough gas in your car before you start on a long trip.
Sometimes we pray with familiar words, like the Lord's Prayer. n1 This prayer that Christ Jesus gave his disciples tells us a lot about God's loving nature and how He cares for us. At other times, we might pray by just being still - putting out fearful thoughts and listening for comforting thoughts straight from God. This kind of prayer isn't escapism. Quite the contrary, it brings us into harmony with the spiritual reality of God's perfect government of man.
n1 See Matthew 6:9-13.
Whatever the kind of prayer, its effect is to comfort, guide, and heal us. True prayer does this because we are letting go of ''me'' thoughts in favor of God's healing ideas. These ideas fill us with a clearer sense of what God makes His children (us) to be - His image, perfect forever. Because He is our Father-Mother, God gives us joy and freedom from fear. Through prayer, evil is exposed as without genuine foundation. It's uncovered as truthless, because God is Truth itself.
Do you feel you don't know how to start to pray? Reading the Bible can help guide your thought to listen to God.
Praying isn't just for times when we're afraid or sick. Regular daily prayer, which may include stopping many times to listen for divine direction, can prevent us from making wrong decisions or getting into trouble of another sort. To admit God's control of His creation, and be ready to trust His loving government, can help us keep our days calm and productive.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, followed the example of individuals in the Bible who prayed many times daily. She wrote to her followers: ''One thing I have greatly desired, and again earnestly request, namely, that Christian Scientists, here and elsewhere, pray daily for themselves; not verbally, nor on bended knee, but mentally, meekly, and importunately.'' n2
n2 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 127.
Moses' prayers helped him lead a nation to safety. Daniel's kept him safe in a den of lions. Christ Jesus, the Way-shower, gave us many unsurpassed examples of the power of trusting God, and he also taught us the way to pray effectively. The Apostle Paul's life shows clearly the results of inspired prayer. He was protected in times of grave danger to himself and his followers, and gave many proofs of the wisdom and practicality of humbly turning to God in all matters.
The same power is available to us today. It has long been our family's practice to begin each day with a period of quiet study and prayer. An added blessing has been acquaintance with a Bible verse we love to ponder each time we leave home for the day: ''The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.'' n3 This reminds us that we are safe everywhere and always, as we trust God's law to protect and direct us.
n3 Psalms 121:8.
Understanding this helped keep me from what appeared to be unavoidable harm. As misty rain suddenly changed to freezing rain one early spring evening, my car was involved in a multivehicle incident during the homebound traffic rush. Of the dozen or more cars affected, no driver or passenger was seriously hurt, though my car was demolished and others badly damaged. Kind help was readily available on the scene, and everyone there seemed to feel the presence of a protective power. I just knew that we had all experienced God's presence.
There had been no time for lengthy praying for safety, but in the instant I saw the danger facing me, I called out one word - ''God!'' My prayer was answered. The slight injury I had sustained (witnesses couldn't understand how I got out alive) was healed quickly, a replacement for the car was located, and, most important, my faith in God was strengthened.
We can pray anywhere, anytime. Praying helps us feel close to God, or good. We can trust our prayers to reveal what we need to know. And as in any right endeavor, the more we do, the better the results. Quieting human will, listening for messages from God, turning to Spirit instead of matter, can change our lives for the better. Try it and see! DAILY BIBLE VERSE Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; an attend to the voice of my supplications. . . . Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth. Pslams 86:6, 11