Recently I purchased a small table. After about forty minutes of trying to put it together without reading the directions, I discovered that the bottom shelf wouldn't stay put because one of the legs wobbled. In desperation I unfolded the direction sheet and found that I needed to start all over again. I had omitted putting in some metal washers to secure the bolts. After following the directions, I soon had a sturdy table.
You're probably thinking, ''Ah, yes, when all else fails, try reading the directions.'' I thought of that, too, after the table episode.
How often are we inclined to think, ''When all else fails, try prayer''? Yet the direction we need in life is best found through prayer, as the following experience showed me.
My car broke down and had to be towed to the repair shop. I was stunned by the extent of the work to be done and its high cost, which would just about wipe out my savings account. I didn't see how I could possibly allow that. Then, mentally racing around to find some way of handling this crisis, I thought about asking if the repairs could be financed. Finally - I thought about praying.
I forced myself to lay aside the crisis picture I was holding on to. I turned to God with my whole heart and thanked Him for the many proofs of His protection and care that had blessed me so bountifully throughout my life. Humbly I prayed to be forgiven for yielding, even temporarily, to the temptation to doubt His ability to care for my need. I realized that I had let myself be pressured into breaking the First Commandment by looking to a sum of money as the source of my supply. I had become fearful that if it was spent for this need there would be nothing left for future needs.
I saw, then, that this human reasoning must give way to spiritually based reasoning. As I prayed, I began to recall Scriptural promises such as Paul's assuring statement ''My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.'' n1 The truth of this statement has been fulfilled many times in my life, so it was of great comfort to me in this instance. I glimpsed the infinitude of God's immeasurable goodness as an ongoing blessing for me. I also thought of the widow whom Elijah healed of a limited sense of supply. n2 I acknowledged Jesus' unfailing promise to all, ''I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.'' n3 The anxiety dissipated as I sat there and was quiet in the certainty of God's dear love.
n1 Philippians 4:19.
n2 See I Kings 17:9-16.
n3 John 10:10.
At that moment the repair shop called, and I told them to go ahead with the work. They asked about a warranty. I had thought this was useless because the car was in its fourth year and the warranty had been for three years. But they checked it out and saw that it was also for 30,000 miles, and the car was at least a hundred miles under that. The policy paid them for labor and parts and paid me for towing. I'm convinced it was prayer that silenced my fear and opened the way for the divine law of God's constant provision to operate in this case. True, with or without prayer the warranty was still in effect. But from my viewpoint it was God's law in action that quieted my thought and prompted the repair person to think about the warranty and to be willing to call me about it.
The suggestion that we don't have enough time to pray is not true. The Bible tells us, ''Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.'' n4 Even a short prayer is effective when it embodies a readiness to accept divine help.
n4 James 4:8.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, devotes the first chapter of the Christian Science textbook to the subject ''Prayer.'' She writes in the textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''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? The unspoken desire does bring us nearer the source of all existence and blessedness.'' n5
n5 Science and Health, p. 2
No one need fear to take time to thank God for being our Father; to quietly acknowledge that we are always in His presence; to trust Him to meet all our needs.
How many moments of fear we'll be spared if we learn to resist the temptation to do it our way first. There's really no substitute for prayer. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Loard hath heard by supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. Psalms 6:9