Praying with confidence

A Christian Science perspective: When problems seem so big, we may think our prayers can't make a difference. Find out why they can.

Years ago a friend of mine said she thought it was important to pray for the world, but that she had to be realistic about the results – because the problems were so major and massive and she was just one person.

This might sound logical in one sense, but in another it would definitely undermine the motives, confidence, and expectancy of our prayers regarding those issues that surely need our compassion and right thoughts.

I’ve found it helpful to place the perspective of prayer on a level higher than one person simply trying to fix things. I can pray to understand what God, divine Principle, is already doing. Instead of trying to repair a broken economy, resolve a bitter war, or shape political events, I can affirm in prayer that God is already governing His creation intelligently, lovingly, and purposefully.

Students of Christian Science learn that God is the only Mind, the only intelligence of His creation, maintaining everything He creates in perfect order and harmony. Awakening to that spiritual fact helps raise the general level of human consciousness to some degree, just as one lone inventor can discover something that benefits countless people.

True prayer is not human will. It’s not an effort to get God to do something He hasn’t done yet or cannot do. Spiritually scientific prayer in Christian Science is awakening to the goodness of divine law that God has already created, established, and is enforcing right now.

The value of one individual praying lovingly and understandingly can be of great benefit. One short Bible story tells about a man who was able to rescue a troubled city singlehandedly. “There was a little city,” the book of Ecclesiastes reports, “and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man” (9:14, 15).

In its brevity, the account attributes the saving of the city only to the man’s wisdom. Because elsewhere the Bible refers to wisdom as coming from God, my sense of the story is that the man was enabled, not through personal power or influence, but probably through his understanding of something divine – perhaps of the supremacy of God’s jurisdiction, presence, and love for all.

The Bible has many individual “poor wise” men and women who made a monumental difference to the awakening and progress of humanity. Moses led an entire nation out of bondage; individual Old Testament prophets spoke courageously against tradition and literalism; Ruth left the land of Moab and, with new God-centered courage, became a forerunner of King David; the radically transformed St. Paul brought Christ Jesus’ message to distant lands and people; John the Revelator inspired his fellow Christians even from the lonely and remote prison island of Patmos.

No example is more significant to the Christian world than that of Jesus’ courageous, even though seemingly singular, teaching and example of God’s law and infinite love for all His children.

Each one of us can rely on this law through our prayers. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, undoubtedly drawing from her own personal experience in religious reform, wrote: “Is not a man metaphysically and mathematically number one, a unit, and therefore whole number, governed and protected by his divine Principle, God? You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle. A dewdrop reflects the sun. Each of Christ’s little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer’s declaration true, that ‘one on God’s side is a majority.’

“A single drop of water may help to hide the stars, or crown the tree with blossoms” (“Pulpit and Press,” p. 4). Having as our motive to individually understand what God, the only Creator, has already done strengthens our efforts and expectancy to pray for our troubled world. If only one person in a dark room lifts the shade, all, whether there are 10 or 100 people, are enlightened.

Striving to love humanity and awaken to the spiritual good already taking place gives us much greater vigor and confidence to pray earnestly for our worldwide family.

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