64th annual National Day of Prayer

A Christian Science perspective: Finding an understanding of true and effective prayer. 

May 7, 2015, marks the 64th annual National Day of Prayer in the United States; however, the theme chosen for this day is universal: “Lord, Hear Our Cry.”

Speaking of prayer, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, explained: “True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us. Prayer begets an awakened desire to be and do good” (“No and Yes,” p. 39).

Christ Jesus best demonstrated for all how to truly pray. Not only was he known to pray frequently and to expect good results, but he showed that actually living love reflects divine Love’s transformational power. For example, during Jesus’ visit with Zacchæus, a corrupt tax collector, Zacchæus repented of his wrongdoing and reformed, giving half of his wealth to the poor and repaying citizens four times the amount he’d overcharged them (see Luke 19:1-10). Jesus’ living love elevated those around him to higher morals and reformed character.

His Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7) highlights God’s message of love by instructing us to love our enemies, to forgive and make amends, and to strive for righteousness and treasure it. His instruction on how to pray begins with “Our Father,” which shows that Jesus knew God to be universal, divine Love.

We can utilize “the love wherewith He loves us” through correct self-identification by understanding that the result of effective prayer is not in getting something or attracting someone; rather, it is a recognition of God as good – the only power that man as God’s spiritual likeness reflects, and the only presence that governs the universe.

When we realize that divine Love’s will for everyone is good, fear lessens, and our prayers become more unselfed – absent self-will. That’s why everyone who seeks God’s help through prayer and honest living in accord with those prayers can expect good results.

Toward uniting interests for the good of all humanity, perhaps we could pray today to be better representatives of God’s goodness – to have more patience, temperance, a kinder heart, and success in accomplishing good deeds. We can pray to reject vanity, resentment, and self-justification so that we may forgive another as we would like to be forgiven. We can pray to love more so that we may be always ready to forgive.

We can pray today not so much to get, but to give. And we can thank God for the good we’ve already received – being grateful for correction and for pride rebuked. Gratitude is prayer, and it readies the heart to receive more.

Surely we can pray to be guided by a spiritual sense of brotherhood that would rid us and the world of all hatred, egotism, and predatory behavior. Universal prayers for honesty in all men and governments, as well as prayers for peace and prosperity for all – regardless of nation, gender, race, or political persuasion – are much needed.

So let’s pray today for something better – something higher, and holier, with confidence in God, good – to feed the hungry and heal the brokenhearted. And let’s expect good results.

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