The Unexpected Effects Of Prayer

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Have you ever received something you hadn't asked for, but which turned out to be exactly what you needed? Such a gift usually comes from someone who knows you well. When God is the giver, the recipient often receives far and above what is asked for-all of it good.

Recently a frustrating business problem caused me to pray for a solution that would satisfy a number of parties. I had been coordinating the design and production of a book. The author, the marketing people, and the editorial people had agreed initially on a cover design. Then, just as we were getting close to deadline, the marketing people insisted on a different style and focus. We were already over budget, and I was not pleased with this change. Finding myself carrying my concern about this home with me, I prayed diligently for direction.

The Lord's Prayer was helpful to me. This is the prayer of Christ Jesus that says in part, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Not only for the project but also concerning my own responsibilities with a company that often showed signs of lacking clear direction, I considered the prayer carefully.

I also found comfort in a statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. This is the textbook of Christian Science. It explains God to be knowable as infinite good. One of the synonyms it gives for God is Mind, explaining it further as: "The only I, or Us; the only Spirit, Soul, divine Principle, substance, Life, Truth, Love; the one God; not that which is in man, but the divine Principle, or God, of whom man is the full and perfect expression; Deity, which outlines but is not outlined" (p. 591).

During this same period fingers on both my hands were often stiff and cramped. I had been healed many times of physical difficulties by praying, seeking to know God better. I had also seen the healings of family and fellow church members. So I was confident that this condition could be healed entirely through prayer alone. When my fingers felt painful, I really tried to know myself as God made each of us-as a spiritual and loving child of our spiritual and loving creator.

When I reach out to God for healing, I often do so by making a consecrated study of the Scriptures, with the help of their spiritual interpretation as found in Science and Health. But I'd procrastinated in this, putting the more pressing issues of my business demands first.

As I began to pray sincerely about the business situation, I was able to let go of a feeling of personal responsibility for the book project. I just listened for direction from God. I was learning that God is truly the only Mind, the Mind of everyone involved in that project. God is good, so the intelligence each of us expresses can produce only good. The answers came. The designer was given a few very specific and productive suggestions to alter her work. We had a satisfactory book cover on schedule.

There was another, unasked-for, effect of this prayer. Very soon after this experience, while cooking dinner, I realized I had opened the widemouthed cover of a sticky pickle jar with relative ease, something I could not have done before. No more stiff fingers! And this freedom has been permanent.

My prayers about that business situation had led me to see something; a tendency for me to give fearful, often willful attention to every detail of my life had been uncovered. I learned a little more about how to trust God's guidance. This was revealed through the spiritual ideas that were made clear to me in the Bible and Science and Health. When I let go of the human details and reached out to God, I found inspiration. The effect was that the business problem was solved. And I saw the physical healing of my fingers as a blessed side effect, so to speak, of prayer.

As a proverb from the Bible says, "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22).

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