Prayer and what God can do

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

One time I worked in a cafeteria, with a cook whose first name I have never forgotten - Elijah. He was as imposing physically as his biblical counterpart must have been.

Something else I've never forgotten: he tasted what he was cooking by sticking his finger into the boiling liquid.

Most people couldn't do that. Yet, how many of us do venture into the day equally unprotected from what Hamlet calls "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"? Sometimes, it seems, you need to manage your affairs with the same wisdom and care you'd give to picking up a hot ember that popped out of a fireplace and onto the floor.

There are things you can do to make it easier. In my own life, I've found it is possible to be more prepared for what comes at me - by praying. To me, this means communing, talking silently, with God. Getting my thoughts in line with Him. God is always (not usually or sometimes, but always) prepared to help. God will never afflict. Each one of us is the child of God.

What we need to do in order to receive His direction and protection, I'm finding, is direct our thoughts to Him.

But what if you're at a loss as to how to begin praying for yourself? The Lord's Prayer, as given in the Gospel of Matthew, is one good place to start (see Chap. 6:9-13). This prayer, according to the woman who established the Monitor, "covers all human needs" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 16). The Lord's Prayer has the power to transform lives. The truths it unfolds to a person who studies it and ponders it regularly are inexhaustible and fresh. They come immediately, to help with all the needs of each day.

What else? A lot of people have also received great comfort over the centuries from Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd ...") and Psalm 91 ("He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High ..."). The Holy Bible is a mother lode for nuggets of truth - thoughts about the power of God in our lives - which can carry us through the day and provide the comfort and assurance we often need.

For some people, a source of comfort may be a hymn, such as the one that begins "I look to Thee in every need,/ And never look in vain."

These selections are just examples. There are hundreds, thousands, of others. Any spiritual fact, humbly considered, can become the basis of a prayer.

As you search for good in your life, God will guide you to encounter fresh, new thoughts and truths. They will help your prayer to be targeted more specifically to the needs of that day. For example, if you're going to take a trip, safety is important. These words (also from Psalm 91) are appropriate: "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." Or if you have had an injury or are sick, you can pray to gain a deeper understanding of God's healing power by considering the verse from Jeremiah that says, "I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord" (Jer. 30:17).

You can put to use any verse that says something about who God is or who God made you to be. It's a basis for prayer. Sometimes just opening the Bible at random will lead to the needed inspiration and comfort.

Reading the Bible regularly gives a person a more complete spiritual arsenal. But any sincere prayer will produce results. And the humility, sincerity, and purity that characterize prayer really make a big difference - not the amount of time you give, where you are, or how clever you are verbally.

Like stripping decades of grime, wax, and varnish off a piece of furniture - in order to reveal what it really is made of and looks like - prayer helps reveal our real identity as good and blessed of God. It uncovers what God is and how He cares for us.

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Psalms 119:97

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