Often a simple prayer is more effective than a long one. Many people assume that prayer is something difficult for an ordinary person. They may think they can't pray if they don't remember specific words, or if they've been too busy to read the Bible or think up something to say to God.
But God does not need human words to hear our prayers. God knows our motives and good thoughts - even without words. "Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 1).
The following example shows how you can pray without words. Some time ago I had a lot to do. Since there was so much work, I planned to do it together with one of my friends. But she was tired and stressed out. I almost gave up hope of getting her to help me. Still, I needed the help, and she had promised it.
For a while, I did not pray about the matter at all. Then I was sitting by the TV and watching a program about Africa. A woman was carrying a heavy basket on her head and moving smoothly and easily, in spite of the weight. The basket was filled with refreshing, juicy fruit.
My friend's situation came to mind. The burden she was struggling with, I suddenly realized, didn't have to be any more of a problem than the fruit basket was to the woman on TV. Whenever I thought of my friend, I realized that she was spiritual - a child of God. She was the image of God, and she couldn't be burdened with overwhelming demands, any more than God could.
When I met my friend, she looked refreshed. We finished the work together, in a good way.
Seeing that God has created each one of us perfect - as His spiritual idea - is one simple way of praying. Another way is turning wholeheartedly to God as the place where all healing comes from.
Once a friend of mine asked me to pray for her. She had a headache, as I recall. I had had a busy day. I was already lying in bed and was really tired, but I wanted to help her. So I lifted my thoughts to God and simply said in my thoughts, "Help!" And then I fell asleep.
The next day I met my friend, and she asked me: "What did you do for me last night? It was so effective."
The people you read about in the Bible lived very simply, and the answers to their prayers often came as a "vision." They actually saw and heard the thoughts they got from God. "The Soul-inspired patriarchs heard the voice of Truth, and talked with God as consciously as man talks with man" (Science and Health, Pg. 308).
This might seem weird, but perhaps it's no more unusual than the way some people today find that activities can take the form of prayer when these activities are seen to express God. I know some people who jogged 10 kilometers every morning, and prayed while jogging. In a sense, this activity gave wings to their thoughts. For many people, music is a form of spiritual expression that helps them feel close to God.
For thousands of years people have naturally been able to pray. In the wilderness, people turned to God when they needed help. Moses prayed to God when his people wandered in the dry desert, thirsty and tired. He got the guidance to take his rod and strike a rock. And water came out (see Ex. 17:1-6). That was a prayer that the people understood, and it solved a really big problem they had.
Jesus Christ often healed people of dire diseases without saying anything at all. He prayed by seeing that God had made them perfect, no matter what it might have looked like. Christian Science explains more about how to pray in this simple and effective way.
God is as present now as He was when the biblical healings occurred. And He still hears our prayers.
This article first appeared in the Finnish Edition of The Herald of Christian Science.