Prayer and God's unfolding design
SOMETIMES we can feel overwhelmed by circumstances and even powerless to do anything to change them. But prayer can open new vistas. Prayer can raise thought above the problem with its entanglements into the clear consciousness of what must really, in God's sight, be taking place. And this opens the door to solutions. There are many powerful examples of prayer in the Bible. The Lord's Prayer stands a shining illustration. The elements of affirmation, praise, realization, humility, and pure desire illumine this moving prayer. And these are present in thought to enlighten our every prayer.
The Lord's Prayer begins with God -- ``Our Father which art in heaven.''1 Isn't this the best beginning point for all prayer? Turning to Him first, in humility, affirming His infinite power and ceaseless care for His creation, begin to uplift thought immediately. This new altitude prepares us to listen for God's direction.
Our standpoint needs to rise above the level of human judgment concerning a situation. And the one God, the one divine Mind, the supreme governing intelligence of the universe can alone provide the clarity of vision we need. Cultivating a childlike trust in God is a vital part of our prayer.
It's also essential that we live a life that is consistent with our prayers. Allowing ourselves to have an unloving or hostile attitude toward others while praying to know God as Love is hypocrisy. Such thinking slows down and can drag to a halt any spiritual momentum ready to carry us forward.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``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
A short while back I had a part-time job I liked very much. Everything about it seemed to be perfect, including the fact that I was working with friends I had known for a long time and with whom I had a wonderful comradeship. But they sold the business and moved away. I had lost a job and close friends as well.
For a while I was quite miserable. I felt at sea, rudderless and disappointed, and was full of self-pity. But slowly I began to change the focus of my prayers and thoughts from ``Why did this have to happen'' to ``Father-Mother God, what would You have me do?'' I began to acknowledge His loving care and knew that it could never be absent. It dawned on me that God's unfolding design would certainly be better than whatever I might think should be going on. Through humility and a deep desire really to listen to and follow God's direction, my prayers became much less selfish and so much more open. Expectancy became a part of them, the eager expectancy springing from the knowledge that God is in control, unfolding goodness and joy.
Soon a new direction in my life began to emerge. It has brought with it peace and fulfillment. Learning the lessons of prayer and unselfishness has proved invaluable in my efforts to help others.
By thinking often of what we haven't got we're not going to see very well what we truly have. The thought constantly open to downward, materialistic thinking is closed to God.
Prayer is the means by which we open thought to God to see His good. His grace is sufficient to supply all that we need -- whether the demand is for inspiration or guidance, for housing or a job, even for physical healing. Thought open in prayer to God -- to ever-present, omniactive good,and to the reality of our being as the very likeness of God, spiritual and complete -- is ready to refute the appearance of lack and to experience healing.
God's design is never incomplete. If we have a steadfast desire to learn His way for us and to follow it, each needed step will become apparent.
Referring to prayer, Mrs. Eddy says: ``It makes new and scientific discoveries of God, of His goodness and power. It shows us more clearly than we saw before, what we already have and are; and most of all, it shows us what God is.''3
Through prayer we can gain the wonderful feeling -- and proof -- that God is pointing the way.
1Matthew 6:9. 2No and Yes, p. 39. 3Ibid. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. Psalms 66:20