FOR many people, prayer is the final resort when things get really bad. Yet why do we sometimes have to be on the edge of disaster before we turn to God? Could it be a lack of trust in His power? Prayer would probably be the first thing we would do if we really thought it would be most helpful!
Recently I watched some people walk across a still-frozen but thawing lake. Although they made it across, it seemed pretty risky to me. Is trusting God similarly risky? No. Unlike thawing ice, which may break up at any moment, the truth of God, man's eternal Life, is solid footing for our lives, leading us to our relationship with Him as the most stable thing there is.
What, then, is the prayer that enables us to rely on God as our first and also as our last resort? Is there some special formula for ``correct'' prayer? Of course not. The form prayer takes is as individual as the person doing the praying! Christ Jesus showed mankind just what is possible when life is based wholly on God. In the Bible's book of Matthew, Jesus gives what we've come to call the ``Lord's Prayer.'' It begins: ``Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.''
What is God's will? God is purely, unequivocally good. And His will for us is always good. Spiritual goodness is the expression of God. As God's creation and reflection, you and I are also spiritual and completely good. It is a perception of this that is an important component of true, dependable prayer. And such prayer helps us to know--and do--His will.
Spiritual Truth--revealing the true nature of man as God's perfect, spiritual creation--is what gives prayer its potency. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, devotes her very first chapter to prayer. She says on the first page of that chapter, ``Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.'' And she further elucidates this vit al topic throughout the book.
What is it that transforms people through God's power and presence in answer to prayer? It is Christ, Truth--something so fundamentally the foundation of Jesus' life as God's Son that we call him Christ Jesus. Christ is God's own spiritual idea, constantly present to effect changes in your perception of yourself. Instead of your holding a ``born into matter, fend for yourself'' concept of identity, the Christly influence can lead you to understand your true nature--which is spiritual. In other words, you 'll learn of your own identity as God's expression, man, spiritually created and tenderly cared for with all the might that Jesus associated with our Father, God.
A few winters ago I was out with a group for a day's outing of fun in the snow, when I found myself weak with influenza symptoms. ``What in the world am I doing out here in this condition? I asked myself. Then I remembered that I really could trust the ever-presence and power of God through prayer. I prayed immediately and with trust in God, and in a matter of seconds I felt so sure of God's care that I was completely healed.
And that's only one of the many times I've seen how reliable trust in God can be! No one needs to be an ``expert'' to pray, either. Jesus said that if you have faith only the size of a grain of mustard seed, ``nothing shall be impossible unto you.'' That's just the beginning. Faith can lead you to actually understanding more of the Christ-power that answers prayer. When you understand even a little of God's tremendous strength--His all-power--you naturally depend on it--not just when you are at the end o f your rope, but at any point in your life.