On a family vacation some years ago, my brother, Ed, and I took his 2-year-old son out on a lake in a rowboat. Peter stood between Ed's legs with his hands on the oars as Ed rowed. After a while, Peter bellowed one of those 2-year-old commands: "I do it myself, Daddy." Ed let go, and Peter slapped the oars up and down on the water. As we proceeded to go nowhere, he gleefully exclaimed, "I do it all by myself!"
I smile at that scene when I think about why people pray. At times we may imagine we can command life's boat by ourselves. But as the awareness grows that we're going nowhere fast, prayer becomes a welcome friend. And daily prayer is a way of keeping your hand in God's.
I believe the best care we can take for our health and peace of mind is prayer that acknowledges our oneness with God. My daily prayer is to know God as the great and only Life and Mind - my Life and Mind. I pray to understand that I am not a personal ego separate from God, but an individual identity flowing from the divine Life like a stream from an inexhaustible fountain. I pray to know God as the pure, good, and eternal nature of myself and everyone.
One issue I'm paying more attention to is confronting thoughts that cause me to resist praying for my own well-being. Here are three specific forms of resistance I've often had to face, and some ideas from Christian Science that help me break through them:
1. Believing prayer has to change bad conditions or prevent them from happening. To believe this is stressful and makes me want to avoid or give up on prayer. So I remind myself that the reason I pray is to see the good that's already true and present. In divine Science, or spiritual reality, God is the infinite Spirit that manifests itself in a universe of spiritual and good identities. Material life isn't another fallen reality, but only a misconception of the one spiritual reality. Prayer lifts thought above physical perceptions to the truth of perfect being.
A psalm in the Bible describes the goal of prayer simply: "All I want is to see you [God] as you are" (Ps. 17:15, Contemporary English Version). Describing the effects of such prayer, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 2).
2. Believing there are merely human solutions to my own or others' troubles. Thinking about ways to make my life run more smoothly is useful, but it can sidetrack me from prayer that brings God's healing power to bear on a situation. If I have a financial decision to make, for instance, I try to acknowledge that my intelligence comes from divine Mind, God. That way, I help break the habit of relying on the limited human mind for solutions. I also gain in trust that even global economic concerns have answers in God.
3. Believing my prayers aren't good enough to heal myself or others. Acknowledging that God - Truth itself - is always the healer helps me confront and overcome this fear. Jesus said if we continued in his word, we would know the truth - and the truth would free us (see John 8:31, 32).
One way to continue in his word is to be willing to declare the truth under all circumstances. Declaring any single spiritual truth is a type of prayer. And I can always declare that God is supreme and that all creation including me is perfect and spiritual now. I can declare that there is no power to prevent the appearing of this perfection.
Prayer is a joint venture, something like a Parent-child rowing team. Resistance to prayer dissolves when we see that God prays with us and through us. More than something we do to get closer to Truth, prayer is evidence of our oneness with Truth. Daily prayer keeps our hand in God's and lets divine Spirit power us forward.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.