The difference prayer makes

HAVE you been praying for something, or about something, and nothing has happened? Maybe you're feeling discouraged. But just how did you pray? Christ Jesus gave his disciples the Lord's Prayer. Included in this prayer are the words ''Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.''n1 Perhaps there's too much ''I want,'' ''Give me,'' in our prayers instead of willingness to let God's will be done.

n1 Matthew 6:10.

What is God's will? Our creator is not wrathful and vengeful but is the all-loving Father-Mother, whose will for His creation is perfect good. Often we tend to fall into the trap of just saying words and not really understanding the God we are petitioning.

We can pray in the supermarket, at the kitchen sink, driving a car, or anywhere, turning to God in humility and with confidence that, as the Bible promises, ''no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.'' n2 We should never underestimate the power of prayer that acknowledges one omnipotent God. When we are willing to lay our plans at His feet, knowing that if our prayers are in line with divine good they will be answered, we can safely leave the outcome to Him.

n2 psalms 84:11

But what if things don't work out as we planned? In such cases we can refuse to be discouraged and instead be steadfast in our faith in God's perfect government.

Once I was badly in need of a new home and job. I prayed earnestly about the situation and then answered a job advertisement that appeared to offer a perfect solution. The situation included not only a fine position but a sixteenth-century cottage in which to live. For days I walked around blissfully, certain this must be the answer to my prayers. Then I heard I had not been chosen. At first I was tremendously disappointed, but I knew from past experience that there was a reason this had not worked out, and that God would show it to me.

Soon I began to learn things about the situation that made it plain this would have been far from perfect, and then I heard that the position was imminently due to fold up completely. Not long afterward I was able to start a new life in a much more satisfactory and independent way.

God provides for all our needs. Our part is to acknowledge this and trust His tender care, refusing to be discouraged. As the Bible tells us, ''Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.'' n3

n3 Proverbs 3:5.

Daily prayer is a tremendous source of strength. Sometimes we need real humility to mean it when we say ''Thy will be done,'' but we should not be afraid that if God's will is done we must relinquish something essential. What we are asked to surrender is fear, pride, self-will.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ''The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.''n4 To cultivate these vital qualities we might well get into the habit of praying daily with an honest desire to trust our God and His loving care. Then our days will be more harmonious. Perhaps most important, we'll be anchoring our lives in the spiritual reality of being, in all that's good and lasting. Yes, prayer really does make a difference!

n4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, P. 1.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou uilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee . . . . Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings . . . . As for me, I will behold they face in righteousness: i shall be satisfied, when I awake, with they likeness. Psalms 17:5-8, 15

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