My goal in prayer is to understand God better. I pray regularly during the week, usually in the morning, and as often during the day as I have the opportunity or need.
Jesus' instructions on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount include this statement: "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matt. 6:6).
Alluding to these instructions of Jesus, Mary Baker Eddy, author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," wrote: "In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness" (page 15).
During these times I declare what I know God to be: He is Mind, so He is all wise; He is Love, so He is the ultimate benefactor; He is Life, so as a child of God, life is a reflection of these divine qualities. The truth of God fills my thought, and I cling to those ideas during the day.
One time a number of years ago, my boss and I were brainstorming about a very important and urgent solution needed to a computer programming challenge posed by one of our customers. Between us we could describe what the necessary information would look like on our customer's screen, but we couldn't figure out how to get it there.
We had recently been burned by some expensive programming projects that had gone over budget in both time and money, and we were reluctant to jump into the same process again. For one thing, the customer required a promise of when to expect this solution, and we didn't want to make a commitment we couldn't keep.
After spending much of the morning talking about it and reaching no conclusion, I promised my boss that I'd continue to think about the project, and I'd get back to him.
I left the building around lunchtime and drove the short distance to a place where I liked to eat. In my quiet solitude in the car, I immediately felt the change in mental atmosphere. I humbly listened to God.
To me, this kind of listening is really prayer. There in the car, in this "quiet sanctuary of earnest longings," the whole solution poured into my thought. I recognized bits and pieces of the puzzle, but there were ideas, some simple, others complex, that were entirely new to me.
The name of an out-of-state colleague came to mind; he could do the programming. I knew how to fit all the other pieces together myself. And the whole plan would be very cost- effective.
I couldn't wait to describe this idea to my boss. He understood right away what I was telling him and what needed to be done. He endorsed the plan.
The customer was equally pleased with the result. The project was done on time, and we used that solution for years afterward.
God's promise is a constant. He knows only good, so the ideas we receive from Him will be only good. His wisdom is infinite, so there always is the right answer to our question. When earnestly longing for the right solution, when listening quietly for God's idea, we will discover the answer.
"Thy kingdom come;"
let the reign
of divine Truth, Life, and Love
be established in me,
and rule out of me all sin;
and may Thy Word
enrich the affections
of all mankind,
and govern them!
by Mary Baker Eddy