Probably almost everyone has a regimen when getting up in the morning. This might involve taking a shower, picking out clothes for the day, reading the newspaper, and eating something for breakfast.
But have you ever considered making prayer for yourself a part of your day's beginning? Doing this can provide inspiration. Direction. Protection. And a stress-preventing, spiritual underpinning to all of your activity.
I like to consider something that happened long ago, but that holds a helpful message for modern times. It's in the biblical account of the children of Israel, the Hebrew people. When they were led from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, they were given "manna" as they traveled through the wilderness (see Ex., Chap. 16). This manna is described in the Bible as being "small" and "round." It was seen to be bread from God. The Bible says, "And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating" (verse 21).
Think of what this mysterious manna must have represented for the Hebrews. In the middle of the desert, here was a regular, dependable supply of something very important - food. Reading about it, you will note, however, that everyone had to gather it for himself!
What does this account mean today? In essence, God's manna for each of us is the spiritual ideas that He gives. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, made the statement that "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies" ("Miscellaneous Writings," Pg. 307). The love and care that God has for us are constant, even though our needs vary. One day we might need confidence during a job interview; another day a new approach to working with a child. And on yet another day, we might need strength and courage to care for a relative who's advanced in years.
Well, whatever our needs, God's inspiration and direction await us each morning.
Actually, God is continuously pouring out helpful ideas to us, day and night. But the advantage of making prayer a part of getting up is that we learn to start the day listening for His messages. It is logical that a dancer or a swimmer will advance more rapidly if he or she practices more regularly. In the same way, as we cultivate daily the capacity to listen to God, turning to Him for direction becomes more and more natural at any time (and eventually all the time).
I have found that the first chapter in the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," also by Mrs. Eddy, is full of helpful ideas about how to pray effectively. Just one of these ideas is that prayer is not so much saying words as it is being motivated by divine Love. The first of several little marginal notes at the side of the text reads: "Right motives."
This sets the tone for the whole chapter (as well as the whole book). For we are motivated by Love, by God Himself, when we understand that this is how He makes us to be. And we hear God as we set aside preconceptions of how we should think and act - as we pray to be receptive to God's good will.
Jesus Christ gave a significant example of how to pray. He said to God at a very difficult point, "Not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). Reviewing your plans for the day in this same light - first thing in the morning - can be an important step in keeping your thoughts in line with Love all through the day. This is the mental activity of prayer. It will purify your motives and inspire you. It has the power to make your days and your whole life happier, filled with more harmony. And, when necessary, to heal your body.
If you want to consider some of the many other ideas about prayer in that chapter, Science and Health is available in libraries, bookstores, and Christian Science Reading Rooms. Studying and praying with the Lord's Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13, and with the 23rd and 91st Psalms, is also an excellent way to start your day.
Again, for best results, pray every morning, even if it's just for a few quiet minutes.
Have a good time gathering manna!
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