Warnings come at us every day – about what to eat or not eat, the importance of having the right insurance coverage, saving for retirement. While they’re usually well intentioned, these warnings tend to paint a picture of helplessness against chance and change. We can become fearful of participating in the very life God gave us to enjoy and prosper in.
So, how do we prepare for the unexpected? How do we know what decisions to make?
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, had clear insight on how to prepare for each day. She taught about a spiritual way to ready ourselves for the things we don’t expect. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy wrote: “The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of Soul, not of material sense. Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man’s dominion over the whole earth” (p. 14). She saw prayer as a way to bring the divine understanding into human experience, helping us to spiritually prepare for the experiences we might face, and to help us bring harmony to the ones we are already engaged in.
On my walks, I often cross an intersection with traffic coming from three sides. Before I step into the street, I stop, look all ways, and, after seeing there is enough time to cross safely, I go ahead. I wouldn’t think of running out into the road without looking. Starting my day without prayer would seem much like venturing across a busy street without looking both ways first. Each day is already filled with ideas springing into experiences in front of me, waiting to shape my day. Without a thoughtful approach it might become chaotic or unbalanced. I might become careless, aimlessly trying to focus on one too many things at once, or not able to notice things I need to steer clear of. I might neglect to appreciate really good things coming my way because of those distractions. Wouldn’t this be the opposite of the grace needed when interacting with others?
In the quiet of the early morning I can easily listen to God’s thoughts and enjoy the promise of His new day – even before I roll out of bed, plunk my feet on the floor, and go forward into the day. Turning to God first, giving gratitude for all that He has already done and for the fact that He is everywhere I will be, establishes a day with a happy and stable foundation. Gratitude deepens as I acknowledge the presence and power of God – not a scattered hope but a recognition that divine Love is guiding and governing every step I take. In this simple quiet time, as the sun seeps through the curtains, prayer presents a smooth emergence into the day, so I’m not running out in the middle of it without looking both ways!
The story of Solomon in the Bible shows the simplicity and effectiveness of prayer. When Solomon succeeded David as king, he was totally unprepared for the job. He didn’t know how to be a king. He began his prayer by acknowledging the good his father, David, had done, and prayed, “Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (I Kings 3:7-9, New International Version). Solomon was looking to God for guidance and courage – and his prayer for understanding was rewarded with both riches and honor. He has been looked up to through the centuries as a ruler who intelligently and fairly dealt with his people. He didn’t ask for things for himself; rather, his desire was to have God guide him in a career he felt unprepared for.
Like Solomon, we can focus on a specific prayer to greet our day. In our desire to humbly let God lead, we will also find success in whatever we set out to do!
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