Do you have fond childhood memories of climbing into the lap of a loving adult for comfort? Well, we never outgrow our need for comfort. Maybe you're too big to climb into someone's lap now. But you can climb into God's "lap" at any time; you can receive from God assurances of His love just as a child would receive love from a trusted parent. The Bible says, "God is love" (I John 4:8). As His sons and daughters, we are entitled to His unlimited affection and comforting, which we feel through prayer.
Prayer is a time-tested and reliable tool for drawing close to God. It can take any number of forms, such as petition, affirmation, or even celebration. My favorite is affirmation. To acknowledge, affirm, that God is good, that He loves me unconditionally, and that He is in charge of my well-being helps me to be aware that I'm in His presence. Then ideas and answers to problems come to me, and I see healing in my life.
We don't need a special combination to unlock God's goodness; there is no lock. God is accessible at all times. The Bible tells how to receive good, in these words of Jesus Christ: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:7, 8). Jesus taught the facts of God's support for His children, including you and me, who are created in His likeness-spiritual. Jesus' understanding of God enabled him to heal the sick and sinning.
You and I can pray to God wherever we are and at any time, with the full expectation of a loving response from Him. Our first need may be to quiet fearful thoughts, especially when a given situation makes us anxious about our well-being. Becoming expectant of good through communion with God has been effective for me in destroying fear.
I study the Bible together with Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science. It begins with a chapter titled "Prayer." The author, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote on the first page, "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." Page 2 asks, "Are we benefited by praying?" to which comes the immediate answer "Yes, the desire which goes forth hungering after righteousness is blessed of our Father, and it does not return unto us void."
I've found those points important. Simply desiring righteousness is an activity of prayer. Desire without righteousness isn't likely to be effective. And we can learn to pray for spiritual enlightenment rather than for merely material comfort. Is it righteous to tell God what we want? Perhaps we should ask Him what He wants first. God is divine intelligence and knows all honest need and the best way to meet it. The result of righteous prayer is the evidence of God's omniscience and of our ability to make practical use of it.
Effective prayer is learned in following the teachings of Jesus. I like to remember Paul's words in the book of Philippians: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (3:14). We can do this by striving to understand better the sense of unity with God that Jesus expressed, expecting healing thoughts to follow. These enable us to receive the harmony that is our birthright.
My wife and I once became victims of a business scam. A slick salesperson talked us into signing a contract for a very expensive obligation. There seemed no way out. That evening we couldn't sleep, because of the injustice we now realized we'd come under. We wanted to climb into God's lap. And we did; through much prayer we gained the assurance that God is in control of us every moment, and that our recognition of this would resolve the situation in the best way. The next day we discussed the situation with that person's employers. They immediately offered to cancel the obligation. And they also promised to reexamine their sales procedures.
Since learning how to pray, I have never been in a situation where righteous desire has failed to bring me practical comfort, such as a child would expect to receive by going to the one he or she trusted the most.