Prayer Overcomes Stress

TODAY'S society is fast-moving and it makes many demands on us. When these demands come into conflict, we often feel what some call ruefully ``stressed out.'' And when pressure builds up, it's no joke. Many remedies for this condition are offered, but usually these relieve us only for a while. Then we have to face the challenge of stress once more.

A more permanent solution is available to us through humble prayer--the kind of prayer that isn't just a wishful hope that God will help us but a yearning to understand the spiritual laws God has laid down. These laws certainly will help us. Obedience to these laws was fundamental to Christ Jesus' ministry and teaching, and his steadfast unity with God enabled him to heal and regenerate those who came to him for help. In addition, these spiritual laws surely alleviated any of the stress he might have bee n expected to feel as hundreds of people sought him for healing. Through all these experiences, up to and including the crucifixion, Jesus was able to maintain an impressive and unshakable inner peace.

Jesus understood that man is actually spiritual and is inseparable from his divine Father, God. We can learn to understand this as well. Instead of being the clashing, struggling mortals we seem to be, each of us is actually God-created, spiritual man. And within the ever-presence of God's government we can feel the spiritual peace that is our natural heritage.

This isn't something theoretical or abstract. Proof follows the understanding that we are God's offspring, the children of divine Love. Through prayer, we begin to see how we can view conflict objectively and seek to do the will of God, good. When we turn to God's will, instead of trying to get our own way, for instance, we are more able to eliminate the pressures that ego, personal responsibility, fear, or one-upmanship produces. We are also directly allying ourselves with the power of the prayer Christ

Jesus gave us. It is called the Lord's Prayer and is found in the Bible in Matthew's Gospel. In it, the Master says of God, ``Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.'' This prayer addresses every human need. And in its direct statement of obedience to God's will, it lifts us out of the realm where we are clashing with others and into true unity with God, the all-loving Father of us all. Through the influence of Christ, the true idea of God, we see evidence of our oneness with the Divine and with one

another. And we find the peace we long for.

In addition, we become more adept at preventing conditions that lead to stress in the first place. Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures fully articulates the laws of God that Jesus so ably demonstrated. And in it the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science makes very clear the importance of seeing ourselves in spiritual, not material, terms. She writes, ``Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understandi ng and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth.'' This spiritual dominion is what lifts us above circumstances that are potentially stressful, whether they occur at work, at home, at school, or elsewhere. Through prayer we are able to break the grip that human situations may seem to have on us and to trust ourselves to the guiding will of an all-loving and perfect God. As we trust our divine Father to protect and keep each of us in harmony with Himself and with others, the feeling of being pressured will diminish substantially. And like Christ Jesus, we too will experience the peace of God.

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