I have a favorite prayer. It's a very simple one that I learned long ago: "Use me in Your service, Lord."
Simple-yes, but profound, too. I usually think of this prayer when I'm in need of inspiration, in need of seeing new concepts of God and of my own identity.
Christ Jesus told his followers, "All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21:22). And his life was a testimony to this advice. Jesus relied on God and prayer to heal.
I've found that prayer springing from the understanding of God as all-loving brings me closer to Him, brings harmony into my life, and helps me help others. It opens lines of communication from God. I consider prayer as a means of honoring God and of showing my desire to serve Him. My favorite prayer expresses this very well because it commits me to God in a special way.
Is it presumptuous to ask God for something? That may be the case if one prays merely to get material things, such as money or a car or a job. But as we understand who God is and whom He made us to be, our prayers become more sincere, and the benefits that flow from this understanding become evident. Instead of asking for material things, it is much more beneficial for us to pray for spiritual understanding and for opportunities to live our newfound knowledge of God. This includes identifying spiritual qualities that we can express each day. In turn, this expression brings whatever form of good is needed into view.
There's a lot to ponder in the six words of the prayer I mentioned earlier. They ask that I be at God's disposal. They remind me to be ready to serve Him in the ways that He chooses. They imply a commitment that I know I can fulfill-with His help. The attitude of this prayer sets the stage for me to hear messages, thoughts, from God, which guide me to do right things in His name. These are angels.
It's inspiring to anticipate the results of such prayer. And we can expect results. The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy, says on page 1, "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."
I've found that desiring to serve God brings the opportunity to serve Him. I can put my understanding of Him into practice in a variety of ways, hearing His direction, honoring Him, doing His will. One time I found myself guest lecturing at a senior seminar at a major university. Another time I was asked to deliver a high-school commencement address. I've had little or no formal training to prepare me for most of these assignments. But I have known I could turn to God, the divine Mind, for whatever I needed to know to carry them out. When you serve God the opportunities are endless, and they come when your thought is open, ready to glorify Him in helping others.
Each time I pray, I ask for God's guidance on how to proceed. And I gain a clearer concept of who I am-God's child. I learn that I am always capable of doing God's will and that He is always there to help me to do it. Praying this way makes me more willing to accept challenging activities. I actually look forward to them.
Most important, I have learned that God needs me. One of the fundamental points of Christian Science is explained this way in Science and Health: "God, without the image and likeness of Himself, would be a nonentity, or Mind unexpressed. He would be without a witness or proof of His own nature" (p. 303). As I serve God, I can see how important it is that I am today "a witness or proof of His own nature," just as people in the Bible were.
My favorite prayer isn't difficult to express. I can unconditionally and wholeheartedly rely on God to supply my need in a way that's right for me. I rejoice that I can trust God to fulfill my prayer. And you can, too.
You can find other articles about prayer in a weekly magazine called the Christian Science Sentinel.