IT may seem amazing to think that people once prostrated themselves in worship before a "god" that they themselves had carved out of wood or sculpted from rock. How could anyone worship anything so obviously void of life, animation, and responsiveness?
Yet, is our own worship always so much more logical? Aren't we often tempted to bow before a deity we think of as stagnant and far-off, who may be more ethereal than wood or stone, yet is thought of as just as lifeless, inanimate, and unresponsive as a carved or sculpted figure?
Or we may believe there is no God at all, and instead submit ourselves to the rule of "almighty" matter by accepting and acting according to material preconceptions of life as finite, temporal, mortal. Accepting matter as a lawgiver offers no more warmth and love than serving a stone or wood deity, but instead brings us misery, selfishness, and suffering.
Not one of these versions of God is true. God is not distant or aloof. He is infinite Spirit; He is ever present. He is not matter and is neither in nor of matter, but is expressing Himself in spiritual man and the spiritual universe. This true expression of God, good, is discernible to spiritual sense, the true sense that prayer reveals to us as our own.
This spiritual sense-this true view of being-discerns something else that is marvelous. It illumines God to our hearts as a "doing" God, in the deepest sense of that word. God is universally active in His own unhindered self-revelation, and man-each of us in our true, spiritual identity-is the incorporeal object of God's ceaseless love. The clearest perception of God's active presence was evidenced in Christ Jesus, whose witnessing of God's power resulted in the healing of the sick, the regeneration of the sinner, the feeding of those lacking food, and many other wonderful, practical works.
Describing the Saviour's record in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, "It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good" (p. 494).
Bowing ourselves physically or mentally even in worship of the real God-the divine Principle, Love, that Christ Jesus demonstrated-is still wrong if we're doing it because we're thinking that God needs to be persuaded to be or do good. God is already doing all that needs to be done. To experience this requires sincere self-renunciation, but not in order to engage the attention of a God who has to be enticed into action. Rather we renounce self in order to disengage ourselves from the self-oriented thinking that veils our recognition of God's ceaseless, loving action.
A vivid example of the power and presence of God is recorded in the Bible in First Kings. Elijah challenged the prophets of a local god called Baal to prove whether their god was really God. The worshipers of Baal called on him all day, but there was no answer, no sign of Baal's presence. Elijah's far simpler prayer affirmed his obedience to the God of Israel, and asked only "that this people may know that thou art the Lord God." The proof of God's power and presence was so instant, so conclusive to those watching, that, the Bible tells us, "They fell on their faces" and acknowledged, "The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God" (18:37, 39).
That's surely what our hearts feel when we pray. We worship God because He deserves to be adored, not because we believe He demands our worship or needs to be persuaded to attend to us. The true and only God is a God whose love meets our needs actively, and that's worthy of our ceaseless praise.
All the ends of the world
and turn unto the Lord:
and all the kindreds
of the nations
shall worship before thee.