PRAYER, I'm coming to see, includes humble and sincere communion with God that gratefully acknowledges the all-goodness of His power and grace redeeming our lives. There is no one set way to pray, of course, for prayer is as individual as we are, and each of us has his or her own special way of communing with God. But if it seems difficult to know how to pray, we can turn to the Bible for our inspiration.
Being grateful for the blessings already bestowed on us can be an important element of prayer. Paul knew the effectiveness of gratitude and advised in his first letter to the Thessalonians, ``In every thing give thanks'' (5:18). When our prayers are filled with gratitude for God's goodness and tender compassion and for His all-power and presence, we are released from anxiety. Our ability to overcome the problems we face in our lives increases.
``Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it'' (p. 2), the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, tells us in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. So prayer, by spiritualizing our thought, is bringing us to a better understanding of the ever-presence of God and His unerring law of goodness and harmony. This understanding of God's unchanging law, when put into practice, brings the fruit of healing to our prayers.
Communing with God empowered Christ Jesus to overcome all forms of evil, including sickness and death. When taken to the tomb of his friend Lazarus, John's Gospel records, Jesus lifted up his eyes and declared, ``Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me'' (11:41). Even before those that were with him saw Lazarus restored to life, Jesus first gave thanks to God.
Expressing gratitude before we are able to see evidence of healing is praying with absolute trust that man is totally governed by God. A few years ago I had been studying the Bible each day to gain a deeper understanding of spiritual healing and how to pray in order to help others effectively through spiritual means. One morning as I was in the kitchen with many tasks facing me, the telephone rang. A friend was ill, and she was calling to ask me to help her through prayer. I told her I would be happy to pray for her.
As I hung up the phone, I knew that I really had been sincere in wanting to help people. But this certainly did not seem a convenient time to start! Immediately, however, I saw how unhelpful that line of thinking would be to my friend. I shut my eyes and sat quietly on the kitchen chair being grateful for the call and acknowledging that it was a response to my prayerful desire to help others be healed spiritually. My heart overflowed with love for God and gratitude for this opportunity to show my love and caring for my friend. My prayer was one of sincere thankfulness for God's ever-present goodness. Within moments the phone rang again. My friend reported that she was entirely well.
Gratitude healed my reluctance to leave my other tasks to pray. And grateful acknowledgment of the good already present brought a quick healing. This healing showed me the vital part that gratitude plays in healing and illustrated the effects of obedience to Paul's counsel ``in every thing give thanks.'' It was also proof that as we begin to understand God and His goodness, we are able to heal ourselves and others quickly and effectively.
As our prayers become an acknowledgment of God's bountiful blessings in praise and thanksgiving, we will find that our prayers of gratitude will bear fruit in healing.