HOW can we make sure we're praying prayers that go, so to speak, straight up to God? Where else could our prayers go? Well, they might try to wind their way through the various circumstances that appear to be entangling us. After all, isn't prayer often something we do when we're in dire straits, when we believe we're out of options? More than a few have found themselves praying more diligently than ever before as the result of the events in the Persian Gulf.
Because the circumstances have impelled our praying, they may also make us feel the burdens and limits are so numerous as to have strapped us down. That might describe how Jesus' disciples felt when he told them to give food to the multitude that had gathered to listen to Jesus preach. They saw all the limiting circumstances, as is evident from the account in the book of Matthew: it was too late in the day, and there were too many people for too little food.
But Christ Jesus' prayer cut through human limitation with the power of God's love. According to the Bible, ``He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled.'' The limited circumstances weren't a factor in Jesus' prayer, but his trust in God's abundant love certainly was.
Such prayer -- prayer that goes straight up -- rests on knowing just what God is and understanding how He governs. Since God is divine Spirit, He creates man as His spiritual, not material, offspring. And since the creator is Spirit and the created is spiritual, the government of man is spiritual, also. God sees His beloved children in spiritual terms alone.
Of course, in the hustle of day-to-day living, it's easy to forget that God's power and love can cut right through limitations that we feel are threatening. At first, the tendency might be to think that we need to inform God, if you will, about the special circumstances in our case. Then, although we might ask God for a little more help, in view of the circumstances, we aren't really expecting Him to be able to do much.
Such a prayer misses the nature of God and man. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend?'' In the next paragraph she adds, ``God is `the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;' and He who is immutably right will do right without being reminded of His province.''
Prayers that go straight up look directly to God for help and healing -- they are unfazed by difficulties. We're not informing Him or asking Him to be more than He is (for God is All!); instead, we're recognizing Him for All that He is. Prayer never removes our own responsibility for thoughtfulness, for being loving, for sound morals. Indeed, these God-derived abilities in our character are really prayers in themselves. If we're already putting these prayers into action, when personal or physical difficulties arise we'll have a sound basis for looking directly to God for healing because we'll have already seen how God's love cuts through limitations and shows us solutions to our everyday needs.
God is closer to us than whatever seems to threaten our well-being. So, when our prayers go straight up, they don't have to travel any distance. They are at once in touch with God's love.