The Rhythm of Prayer
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
In today's fast-paced world, it sometimes seems hard just to find quiet moments. And at times it seems even harder to think or pray when you do find them.
Not long ago, I had to travel to another state. I cherished the opportunity to get in the car and drive away from the schedules, the routine activities, doorbells, and telephones. During this drive I was reminded of the genuine need we all have sometimes to "just get away from it all."
Yet, I was also reminded that simply removing one's body from everyday activities isn't as important as what we do with the quietude once we get it.
Many people would agree that it's just as important to our well-being to take time out ("to sit by the river and chew on a blade of grass," as a friend of mine used to say) as it is to engage in the daily challenges that must be met.
Often, I compare this quiet time to the natural rests in music. Harmony is produced not only by the activity of musical notes but also by the presence of rests; the silence is just as important as the notes.
If you're accustomed to seeking spiritual inspiration, you may find that you take more time for it one day, and not so much another day. However, there can be a natural rhythm to this activity, which some call prayer or communing with God. A rhythm that keeps things in balance, rather than a swinging from one extreme to another, is important.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science in 1866, wrote "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Drawing from the Bible, Science and Health explains that what keeps us from devoting attention to God is the carnal mind, opposed to the divine Spirit, or Mind, that is God. It teaches that mortal mind must be put off - replaced with spiritual-mindedness, or thoughts devoted to the understanding of God - of good.
As in most things, consistency brings great gains in spiritual progress. The one who practices piano daily does better than the one who practices only spasmodically. A person driving a car for a long distance will make better time by setting the cruise control than the one who fluctuates the speed in extremes. Similarly, the person who regularly devotes his or her thoughts to hearing, seeing, and obeying God finds more consistent inspiration and direction. Our job is to keep our thoughts on God and His goodness, no matter what we're facing in our everyday lives.
As Science and Health states, "All that really exists is the divine Mind and its idea, and in this Mind the entire being is found harmonious and eternal. The straight and narrow way is to see and acknowledge this fact, yield to this power, and follow the leadings of truth" (Pg. 151). As we do this, we find the divine power governing our daily lives.
The rhythm of prayer isn't simply a time of blank quietude. It's not a technique for calming bodily functions (although it does result in physical healing). Rather, it's a spiritual activity of discerning our relation with God. Just as music needs rests, we need the daily renewal that comes through acknowledging our inseparability from God - our inseparability from good.
Beginning each day with thoughts of God, and acknowledging His presence with us throughout our day (even in the middle of intense activity or trouble), we find good unfolding gracefully, more and more, in our lives.
This may be what the Psalmist meant when he sang: "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night .... For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands" (Ps. 92:1, 2, 4).
When ye pray, say,
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
as in heaven, so in earth.
Give us day by day
our daily bread....
Luke 11:2, 3