PUTTING prayer first in our lives can make a difference. Yet even if we've seen proofs that prayer is effective, there's sometimes a tendency to push it aside so that we can get on with usual daily concerns. We may feel time is too short to set aside daily even a few minutes for communion with God. Certainly responsibilities need to be met on time. But prayer can help us care for those responsibilities more effectively. Communion with God isn't idleness. Far from it. Prayer helps to point us in the right direction when we need guidance and brings greater harmony to the smallest details of our lives. It can help us see better how to assist others and can even open the way for progress in relation to global challenges. In short, prayer sheds light on solutions to the issues that need resolving.
How does it do this? By bringing us closer to the one God, to infinite divine Mind and its perfect wisdom, its unbounded goodness. Prayer opens our eyes, at least to some degree, to the spiritual reality of God's constant care for man. It brings into view something of man's God-given well-being as His spiritual image. It shows us that God is Love.
Ultimately, putting prayer first isn't a matter of choice any more than our dependency on God is a matter of choice. Man is dependent on his creator, God -- is inseparable from God. As Christ Jesus said, ``The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.''1 While it may seem that we're self-sufficient, independent egos, without God in a haphazard material universe, at some point we need to view ourselves more accurately. We need to learn of our spiritual relationship to God, to recognize our dependence on Him, to see that reality in its truest sense is the outcome of Him and therefore is good.
A superficial perception of life may insist that things are just fine without God. But sooner or later such a view breaks down, and this forces us to acknowledge our divine source and to realize that all the genuine good we can ever have comes from our creator. Circumstances change, but God is changeless good. To put prayer first is to bring our lives into harmony with that good.
``When thou prayest,'' Jesus taught, ``enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.''2 Such prayer isn't a ritual. Rather, it's a quiet listening for God's pure thoughts, a humble yielding to His will, an affirmation of His care -- not simply to get what we want but to gain a clearer understanding of our creator and of our true nature as His image.
Sometimes when I've gained fresh insights through communion with God, and healing has resulted, I've been tempted to lapse into a kind of ritualistic approach to prayer -- as if more good would come my way through a rote repetition of certain words that had brought healing inspiration in the past. Invariably this approach has failed and I have once again had to trust God to provide fresh insights. As a result, I've begun to learn to think more about humbly yielding to God's government and expressing His nature more fully than about getting something.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``Prayer begets an awakened desire to be and do good. 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
To put prayer first is to put God first. There's no better way to help ourselves or mankind.
1John 5:19. 2Matthew 6:6. 3No and Yes, p. 39.