Transforming Prayer

PRAYER is a curious thing. We may start out by asking God for help, perhaps in the form of guidance, provision, or health. But often we end up discovering, in addition, something new about the nature of Deity and finding that our own nature has been transformed in the process. Through prayer we waken in some degree to the spiritual good that is with us all the time.Consider the Lord's Prayer, given to us by Christ Jesus. Thousands of people know it by heart, and it's a prayer that is repeated often throughout the world. But have you ever noticed that it doesn't begin with a request for help? It begins with a declaration of God's holiness: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. And it ends with an affirmation of God's supremacy: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Prayer, then, can help us see and acknowledge the true nature of Deity, which the Bible shows us. The Scriptures, for example, refer to God as divine Spirit, divine Love. And we learn through the lives of prophets and apostles of the beneficent power of Deity. Abraham, Moses, and the Apostle Paul are just a few of those whose lives were changed by the healing power of divine Love. Because of the spiritual transformation these individuals experienced, generations have been brought closer to God--countless people have found peace, direction, and healing. Today, all over the world, individuals are discovering more of God's kingdom and power and glory through the teachings of Christian Science, which explains that man is God's spiritual offspring. Each of us is actually the expression of God, of divine Truth and Love. We see evidence of this in the God-derived qualities that make up our genuine identity, qualities like purity, integrity, vitality, and tenderness. To discern in prayer the true nature of Deity, then, helps us to come to know ourselves better as God's offspring. And as we begin to understand more of the wholeness and perfection of our spiritual being, we're led quite naturally to new ways of expressing our individual Godlikeness. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, points out in her book, No and Yes: "True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. . . . 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. Does such Christianly scientific prayer actually change our lives? Does it take care of our need for guidance, provision, or health? Yes. As we draw closer to God, we find that our lives are transformed. For one thing, fear fades because we're more receptive to God's direction and to the spiritual ideas that lead to practical solutions. We find relief from stress, resentment, envy, and the discomforts such negative traits bring in their train, when we realize that these traits were never part of our true , God-created identity. And they begin to fall away as we reach out to divine Love in prayer and understand more of our spiritual nature as the image of Love. The impetus behind this transforming power of prayer is Christ, the true idea of God. This spiritual idea is the Truth that Jesus embodied and demonstrated in his healing works. The eternal Christ is present today to purify our thought and lives. We receive it in moments of faith, humility, and self-surrender. This past summer I had an experience that illustrates the transforming power of prayer. An organization I belong to asked if I would be able to take on additional work for three months while someone took a maternity leave. I considered the matter carefully, but it seemed to me that I already had enough demands on my time and that there were others who could take on this assignment. I declined the extra work. But it didn't end there. My response left me uneasy. I began to pray in order to know if I had made the right decision. I turned to God as omniscient Mind and listened humbly to discern His will. I needed to relinquish personal preferences and let spiritual sense reveal the right course of action. Each day for about a week I set aside time for prayer. As I listened for Mind's ideas, my motives and desires were purified. I discovered fresh reserves of unselfishness, dedication, and strength. Finally, I could see reasons that had not been evident before why I was especially suited to do the task I'd been asked to do. With this totally changed attitude, I telephoned the person who had initially asked about giving me the special assignment to offer to do the job, if my services were still needed. My o ffer was happily accepted. Three months later I could honestly say the work had been a joy and not a burden. The assignment meshed well with other responsibilities I had at the time. It proved to be as beneficial to me as it was to others. Perhaps the real blessing of Christian prayer is that it awakens us to the presence of God. It enables us, through Christ, to express more of our individual likeness to God.

BIBLE VERSE The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

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