Prayer and the yearning to be authentic

A Christian Science perspective.

So many of us are seeking authentic connections these days – with family, friends, and co-workers, or in our prayer-life with God. In my community (and I don’t think we’re the exception), people tend to be rather busy. The relationships that are able to last and flourish are usually those that offer a satisfying connection to meaningful ideas, personal support, or spiritual inspiration. I have found God to be a reliable source of these comforts, and prayer to be the means for gaining them.

Usually when I sit down to pray, I begin by affirming the truth about God and life, like this: “God, divine Love, is ever present. Man is the reflection of God,” and then denying the power of anything unlike God, such as: “There is no power or substance apart from God. So man is not material but spiritual.” At first, it seems as if I’m mentally putting sentences together. But as I begin to feel more of how this really is the essence of our lives, there often comes a welcome shift in thought. Instead of praying about divine Mind or divine Love, it feels more like I’m receiving thoughts from Mind and Love. Instead of trying to make something happen, I start rejoicing in how good spiritual reality already is.

I love it when this happens. I don’t feel alone, but instead feel a sense of connection to God so tangible that whatever I began praying about is overwhelmed by gratitude and humble joy. Of course the connection was always there. I just needed fresh inspiration to be aware of it.

Sometimes when I begin to pray, though, I have an undercurrent of doubt about whether the inspiration and healing will come this time. What if I mentally say all the right words but don’t feel any different afterward? In the past, that question has sometimes kept me from truly and deeply praying about something, even something important. But I’ve discovered that squarely facing that doubt really increases the opportunity for receiving new inspiration. Then there is mental space for the Truth about God and His creation to enter consciousness and do the work.

Recently when I felt a deep need to pray, but also felt some doubt about truly connecting, I started my prayer in another way. I dropped my agenda of affirmations and denials and turned wholeheartedly to God. The following flowed from my heart:

Dear Father –

Let me begin by admitting this is a prayer of petition. I don’t want to just sit at my desk today and push around metaphysical statements until I get pulled away to do something “more urgent.” Today, I want to be part of something divine – something bigger than myself and inseparable from You. Please take my yearning, my spiritual hunger, and inspire me to pray and understand more deeply than ever before. Like the man in Christ Jesus’ parable, maybe I’ll find a little more of what I have to sell, and sell it once and for all, to buy that “pearl of great price.”

I know from experience that a few moments of honest communion with You change everything. You never change, but You can change my heart today – open my eyes to what You have already done, for me and for everyone around me. Dear Father, I’m ready.

Praying like that felt really good. I find that prayers like this can reset thought because they sweep away the dust and preoccupations of the human scene, and show the present possibility of meaningfully connecting with God and sharing this connection with others.

Now that I think about it, our connection to the Divine becomes clear when we pray in such a way that any sense of self separate from God, any resistance to His Word, is erased. Then there’s nothing left but God and His idea. Christ Jesus’ example and words invite us to this higher sense, where we see that we’re not just temporarily connected to the Divine after all, but rather inseparable from the Divine. It’s the infinite All doing the praying and healing. It’s God in human consciousness showing that His nature is all that there is.

Christ Jesus fully demonstrated this oneness, as Mary Baker Eddy explains: “Thus he found the eternal Ego, and proved that he and the Father were inseparable as God and His reflection or spiritual man” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 314). We experience this oneness, and the inspiration, comfort, and healing that come with it, with humble prayer that makes our connection plain.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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