ONE evening last winter when traffic was badly disrupted by heavy snow, I was at a railroad terminal, trying to get home, along with a lot of other people. As there wasn't a single train in sight, I asked an official what would be best to do, and he replied briefly but earnestly, ``Pray, madam!'' While his comment may have been partly in jest, the advice was sound nevertheless. I didn't really need his reminder, because I was already fully convinced of the effectiveness of prayer. But I realized that I was praying only to get myself home safely. Perhaps he had everyone in mind who was waiting there and who wanted to get home safely.
Is our prayer just a frantic plea for help because of what seems a pretty hopeless situation for which human resources appear inadequate? Or do we realize that human resources are always inadequate unless they are supported by a power and wisdom beyond the human? This is never more true than when the human situation seems to be going very well.
Can anybody with a busy job really afford the time to pray without ceasing, as the Bible tells us to do? Surely the more demanding the job, the more we need to realize the presence of divine guidance, prompting us to think the right thing and say the right thing and do the right thing throughout the day.
What is it that we really look for from prayer? Is it just a sudden, unexplained, miraculous intervention to get us out of trouble? Sometimes this may seem to be the result of prayer. But more often our communion with God imparts an ongoing, quiet reassurance that makes us do our particular job better, whatever it entails. And often this averts the occasion for drastic rethinking later on.
God doesn't arbitrarily intervene in some people's lives. He is infinite, impartial Love, maintaining the well-being of all His offspring. When something of this spiritual truth is felt in the stillness of prayer, the healing results may appear to be some miraculous intervention. But they are really the natural outcome of discerning the reality of God and man.
We need to identify ourselves as the man of God's creating, made in His likeness, inseparable from Him, instead of thinking of ourselves as either hapless mortals trying to work everything outfor ourselves or as independent-minded mortals glorying in our apparent selfsufficiency. Whatever the misconception, prayer changes human thought when prayer is imbued with a conviction that God alone governs man and thatman is His spiritual image. And when human thought changes, human situations change, and everyone concerned benefits.
Christ Jesus devoted much of his teaching to the subject of prayer. In the Lord's Prayer he included the petition ``Give us this day our daily bread.''1 Doesn't this indicate that the smallest and most routine human experience should be accompanied by an undertone of prayer? The custom of saying grace before meals may point to something of the attitude Jesus expected everyone to cultivate all the time.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, puts it like this: ``Prophet and apostle have glorified God in secret prayer, and He has rewarded them openly. Prayer can neither change God, nor bring His designs into mortal modes; but it can and does change our modes and our false sense of Life, Love, and Truth, uplifting us to Him. Such prayer humiliates, purifies, and quickens activity, in the direction that is unerring.''2
Praying all the time isn't unrealistic. It's the most useful and effective thing we can possibly do.
1Matthew 6:11. 2No and Yes, p. 39. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2