The delay in election results in the United States has been upsetting a lot of people. Many care deeply, passionately, about the outcome of the election. The flames of commitment fanned during a campaign don't suddenly disappear after voting - especially when the result remains unknown. Most people have been patient as voting re-counts go on, but some of my friends tell me they aren't sleeping well at night because they're so worried or angry about what's going on.
These friends want to pray, but they aren't sure how. They want their candidate to win. They want the other candidate to concede. In their eyes the answer is so clear. But perhaps even they suspect that this "clear" answer depends upon what party they're loyal to.
Certainly prayer is needed. But what is a righteous prayer at such a time? What kind of prayer is effective?
The book of Psalms talks about praying earnestly. One psalm says, "I entreated thy favour with my whole heart" (119:58). Here's a key to effective prayer. Turning to God with our whole heart requires unqualified trust in God: a true, honest willingness to put everything in God's hands and to leave the results to divine wisdom. At this point many of us will discover that there is a difference between believing in God, and trusting God.
Yielding our own point of view, our own desires, our own will, can be a struggle. Some years ago, I found it was a terrible struggle. I had applied for a competitive scholarship, and I ended up wanting it more than anything I had ever wanted. In fact, I wanted it so much that I became concerned. I tried to pray a number of times, but I couldn't break through this wall of wanting it to come out my way.
Then a call came saying that so many had applied that the decision would be delayed for a week. The need to pray felt even more acute. At first my prayer was simply lip service. I would say to myself: it is in God's hands. And then I'd think about what would happen if I was accepted or wasn't accepted. But I knew I wasn't praying; I was simply preparing myself psychologically for one result or the other.
So I went back to the beginning - the result is in God's hands. Thinking about that, I remembered a main point that is evident in all the works of Christ Jesus: whatever comes from God is good. So I realized that if the result was in God's hands, only good could occur. This felt like a step of progress.
But I found it was hard to hold onto. I would think, God's answer will be good. Then the anxiety would come back, If I get it .... If I don't get it .... And I would be back to psychology. I realized that I had to trust God with my whole heart. As I prayed, I realized I had learned all I needed: God would cause good to happen. That was it. The whole answer. The result would be good. I had to stop figuring out how things would turn out. I simply had to trust God, to accept His answer.
The Apostle Paul writes about bringing "every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:5). This is what I had to do. Every time I started to think about what was going to happen, I would stop and reply, God has already given me an answer. The result will be good. It was a real struggle, but after a couple of hours, the struggle suddenly stopped. I felt a great peace flow through me, and I truly understood that I was safe trusting God and that nothing but good could come from God.
The Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "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" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 1). I learned that this was absolutely true.
The result was good, better than I could have imagined. And if we turn to God in prayer today, we'll find that this is still true. It will free us from distress, and it will bless the whole world.
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