Prayer and priorities

HAVE we ever railed against the notion that there is a God who allows pain to be inflicted on innocent people? Have we believed ourselves impotent to change misfortune in our own life or in someone else's? In fact, no matter what awful circumstances are facing us, our ever-present source of love and life--God Himself--is there to uphold and protect us. This is not a simplistic notion based on blind faith but an understandable, demonstrable fact. Over and over again in the Bible and in contemporary lives we see individuals who, confronted with dire circumstances, have been lifted out of them through divine power. Such deliverance is natural because God is almighty good. And the true self hood of us all, as created by God, is His perfect expression. So we are never really outside the love and support of divine Love, no matter how much we may seem to be. In realizing our unity with the one infinite God, we're not indulging in wishful thinking; rather, we're engaging in powerful prayer. The deepest prayer isn't motivated by a desire to get things from a beneficent God but by the desire to glorify Him, to prove His supreme goodness and unfailing care; to actively recognize and express our inherent purity, our steadfast integrity, our finest understanding of what it means to be the child of God, governed solely by Him. Christ Jesus put it this way: ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.'' 1 It is a matter of putting first things first. Many years ago we were living on a small stipend while my husband attended graduate school. One week our check didn't arrive, and we had no food left in the house. That day, a warm spring Saturday, we went as usual to sell our work at a nearby crafts fair. We knew that our support of this activity was a way to bless the local community, and we had approached it all along from that standpoint. Well, we made only enough to buy ourselves a simple lunch. But on the way home we affirmed that we couldn't be outside God's protecting law. We knew that man cannot be abandoned, separated, left wanting. We knew that we were always ``cared for, watched over, beloved and protected'' 2 by our infinite source of all good. We couldn't be left hungry. When we arrived home, we found a check in the mail for work my husband had done for someone in another city nearly a year before, work which we had by then forgotten about. This was a wonderful confirmation of the truth we had been affirming. It showed that God does care for our needs--that He is always caring for our needs--and that our motive should be to glorify Him. In the Bible we are told that even in the midst of abandonment, slavery, unjust accusation, and imprisonment, ``the Lord was with Joseph,'' and ``that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.'' 3 Even in a prison cell! Throughout every adverse event, Joseph kept his pure sense of integrity, kept free of malice, anger, hatred, or revenge. Thus he was able to respond wisely to Pharaoh's need when asked, and was rewarded with a position of power second only to that of Pharaoh himself. Joseph was even able to give aid to his family during an environmental disaster and to be affectionately reunited with his brothers. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers. Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence and they assuredly call down infinite blessings.'' 4 When we keep our thought free from the destructive impulse to condemn or doubt; when we mentally adhere to our highest, clearest recognition of Life as always harmonious, no matter what the evidence before us; when we truly understand the importance of putting first things first--of seeking first the kingdom of God--we are blessed. We not only find our own needs cared for but we are able to help in some measure our community and the world. Matthew 6:33. 2 Christian Science Hymnal, No. 278. 3 Genesis 39:21, 23. 4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 15.

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