SOMETHING most of us could probably use more of is quietness -- but not simply the stillness of inactivity or the calm that accompanies a retreat from clamoring events around us. While we all do need such peace and quiet from time to time, there's another kind of quietness that we hear little about but that can have a profound impact on our lives. It's the stillness of communion with God. People tend sometimes to feel that such communion, or prayer, is a kind of escape from reality or perhaps at best a source of temporary comfort. But true prayer is infinitely more than that. It enables us to discern reality, not escape from it. In the quietness of prayer we're able to feel the presence of God's infinite love and to realize something of its transforming, healing power. We're able to glimpse God's allness and our own true identity as His spiritual likeness, complete in every detail. This is what's real; it's what's tangible and indestructible.
Prayer shows us that reality is not the bizarre mixture of good and evil that it seems to be. It's not a conglomeration of material events and conditions. Rather it's the concordant, totally spiritual outcome of God. If God is supreme good and the only genuine creator -- as the Bible brings out unequivocally -- then what we're accustomed to labeling ``reality'' is not the authentic truth of being. And through communion with God we can begin to recognize that fact and to see more of the harmony of true creation expressed in our lives.
In the midst of troubles, we can gain clearer views of the divine power that truly governs us and that is well able to bring to our lives whatever adjustment may be needed. Writing about Jesus' last supper with his disciples, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, observes, ``Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views.''1 Jesus' clear perception of spiritual reality was the very thing that enabled him to heal.
We may feel we can't even begin to do the things Christ Jesus did. Yet we can follow him at least to some degree. One way is through a purer expression of Christian love. But we can also cultivate a clearer perception of the reality of God and man that underlay his works and begin to demonstrate that reality, even if in modest ways. And an essential element of this progress is spiritual quietness, a humble listening in prayer to God, who is all-knowing divine Mind. Jesus said, ``When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.''2
The prayer that makes a difference isn't a product of the human mind's striving to manipulate material conditions. It is a yielding of personal will and fear to the powerful, healing influence of the one Mind. As we listen in prayer for God's thoughts, for His pure intuitions, and strive to put out the commotion of materialistic thinking, fear and confusion recede and we begin to feel at peace. We discern something of the uninterrupted harmony of what God has made, and this has a tangible healing effect. If our need is for direction, we see what steps to take.
We may struggle at times to gain the spiritual view that heals. Appearances would have us believe that circumstances are too tangled to be resolved and that to believe in a reality we can't see with our eyes is at best naive. But there's nothing naive about being willing to look beyond a superficial assessment of life to the truth of being, to the reality of life in God. Prayer enables us to do this -- and to reap the benefits.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 32. 2Matthew 6:6.