Praying and Thinking
HAVE you ever wished you could pray more? Sometimes we don't realize how the notion that praying is done only in a certain way, or at special times or places, or by somebody else for us, can govern our definition of prayer. One way to understand prayer is as a very special way of thinking. It can be done by anyone, at any time, in any place. Prayer is possible wherever God is present. Since God is present everywhere, at all times, prayer is always possible.
Of course, not all thinking qualifies as prayer by any means! We can wake in the morning thinking, ``Ugh! Another lousy day! I'm not looking forward to one thing.'' But this is not prayer.
What if we think, ``Wow! The sun is shining! The birds are singing! I'm meeting a friend for lunch. What a great day!'' Is this prayer? We might think so -- and it's certainly an improvement. Prayer clearly includes joy, but it is much more than just happy, positive thoughts. Prayer definitely recognizes and adores the presence of God in our lives.
All prayer really begins with thought that is uplifted to God. True prayer -- the kind Christ Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer -- starts with God. We wouldn't think of prayer without God. Since man himself is actually the offspring of God and is never for an instant separated from God's love and presence, prayer is the normal, continuing recognition of this spiritual fact. Perhaps this is why the Bible tells us, ``Pray without ceasing.''1
After all, if we think ``without ceasing,'' what's to stop us from praying without ceasing? What's to stop us from consciously em-bracing God's presence to greater and greater degrees?
I find that when I allow prayer to occupy my thinking during the day, it's a far different thing from any idle thought that's there. Because prayer focuses on divine Spirit and the spiritual life and substance of man, it is above the world's pattern of conventional thinking.
But this doesn't place us in dreamland. Instead, it cuts through the tired habits of human thinking to the fundamental truth of all existence -- the reality and presence of God. As Paul says in Romans, ``Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.''2
Once, when I was working as a carpenter, I decided to turn to prayer more frequently in my working day -- not just when I was in a jam but at regular times throughout the day. Up to that time, I had been experiencing some ups and downs in my work. Things usually went fairly well, but at times there were mistakes and, consequently, irritation or frustration.
I really loved my work and didn't want anything to spoil it. So I began praying regularly for myself during the day. Something that Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says about prayer in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures really helped. She writes, ``What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.''3
My prayer was a silent reaffirmation of myself as God's own work and of my work as an expression of His love. I would do this at the beginning, near the middle, and at the end of each day, more or less. The results were noticeable. There were fewer mistakes, and when I did goof, the praying I'd already done allowed me to make a quick correction without any upset. I can't say that I do this regular praying unfailingly even now, but I am trying to. When I do, it makes all the difference.
1I Thessalonians 5:17. 2Romans 12:2. 3Science and Health, p. 4.