Prayer – beyond the words
A Christian Science perspective on daily life
There are so many reasons to pray – someone we love is in trouble, or we need guidance or comfort or inspiration. But at one time, I realized that there is a reason that goes deeper than all of these, deeper even than the essential need for God. We pray because God Himself causes us to pray. God is behind every right thought and action, and prayer is a very right thing to do.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote, "It is the love of God, and not the fear of evil, that is the incentive in Science" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 279). She also wrote, "The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 284). So every thought, every prayer, actually begins with God, originates in Him, the divine Mind.
One time, I was praying to free my young daughter from a potentially threatening situation. I began with the Lord's Prayer (see Matt. 6:9-13). Its words are so familiar to me that as I prayed them, it seemed that I was merely repeating words by rote. How could this help? I knew praying them was better than not praying them, but I needed to go deeper.
Since those words constitute the prayer Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him how to pray, I bent lower, so to speak, in humility, to let the prayer teach me. I discarded the suggestion that these were just words in favor of hearing the message and meaning. I didn't stop praying the words; I let them move me to the ideas behind them. In the first chapter of Science and Health, that prayer is accompanied by the author's spiritual sense of it:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.
Thy will be done in earth, as it
is in heaven.
Enable us to know, – as in
heaven, so on earth, –
God is omnipotent, supreme.
Give us this day our daily bread;
Give us grace for to-day;
feed the famished affections;
And forgive us our debts, as we
forgive our debtors.
And Love is reflected in love;
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil;
And God leadeth us not into
temptation, but delivereth us
from sin, disease, and death.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the
power, and the glory, forever.
For God is infinite, all-power,
all Life, Truth, Love, over all,
It became clear that God is not only the center of prayer; He is the center of my being. I couldn't do or be anything without God. God was reaching me, rather than me trying to reach Him. His love, which He established in me – in all of us – was impelling me to unite with Him.
This was such a relief. Then I saw that God was in touch with my daughter, and with each one of us. Threat and fear were removed. My daughter was free from danger. And I was grateful beyond words to be moved beyond the words of prayer to the core of it – to God, to God's love, God's care, and God's desire to tell us who He is and, consequently, how things are.
In a poem called "Communion Hymn," Mrs. Eddy wrote:
Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the glad sound?
Felt ye the power of the Word?
'Twas the Truth that made us free,
And was found by you and me
In the life and the love of our Lord.
("Poems," p. 75)
Yes, the Word of God has power, and that power is the love of God making the Word, or His message, known to us. It is felt. And this saves, heals, and frees.