Prayer that is dependable

A Christian Science perspective: On the power of prayer in the modern world.

Why does the tweet #prayfor have such staying power? This was recently explored in the Monitor’s View editorial “Why the tweet #prayfor has staying power” (CSMonitor.com, Oct. 4, 2016).

As the headline for the piece noted: “After major tragedies, social media lights up with calls for prayer. One reason, based on a new survey: A majority of Americans rely on prayer in the hope for healing....” This points to the question of what prayer is, and whether it can truly lead us to help and healing. Americans and many others around the world, including me, have found that indeed it can.

The Bible teaches that God is the stable and dependable divine Principle “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17, English Standard Version), and that God is good (see Psalms 136:1). This indicates that human events don’t influence or change divine good, or God’s relation to His spiritual creation. Rather, praying to better understand what is spiritually and eternally true of God and of us all as God’s own image (see Genesis 1:26, 27) naturally brings increased harmony and healing into our experience.

Perhaps this explains to some degree why the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13) resonates for so many when challenges arise. The unifying message of Christ Jesus’ prayer shows that when we turn from seeing evil as a controlling power, and lift our point of view to God, we have a profoundly different starting point for looking at ourselves and our world.

One night I prayed the Lord’s Prayer right before going to sleep. More than a repetition of words, my heart yearned to feel the power of the truth of God and man that this prayer conveys. In a modest but meaningful way, I felt the healing power of this prayer. I had been sick all day, feeling heavily burdened by a family disagreement. But that night I felt willing to exchange my preoccupation with fear and inharmony for a deeper look at what God is and what He does for His creation.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with acknowledging God as our universal Parent and blessing the divine name – the holy and spiritual nature of God. Right away, this prayer turned me toward the nature of God as good, and as a perpetual fount of solutions. I understood from Jesus’ teachings that God upholds all that is real and good. It was encouraging to consider that a growing spiritual understanding of God’s kingdom “as it is in heaven” could enable me to see more evidence of His goodness “on earth.” I know this is true because I have seen, time and again in my day-to-day experience, that we can rely on God to meet our needs.

I saw that as the image of God, all God’s children – me and my family included – are spiritual and inherently receptive to God, who is only good. The spiritual fact of our permanent relation to God could never change. Consequently, I realized that my prayer didn’t need to bring God into the problem, but would rather lift me out of darkness and fear by revealing the Christ – bringing me an understanding of God and of man’s true nature of oneness with God. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “Prayer can neither change God, nor bring His designs into mortal modes; but it can and does change our modes and our false sense of Life, Love, and Truth, uplifting us to Him” (“No and Yes,” p. 39).

I found comfort and peace – felt uplifted and supported – as I prayed with these ideas that showed the unity of everyone, including my family, as children of God. I fell asleep knowing that the Christ light that underlies such prayer shines on and displaces illness, doubt, and fear in every place where they seem to lurk. When I awakened in the morning, I was completely well. And even more, the family disagreement dissolved that very day.

Whether we’re praying about something big or small, Christian Science illustrates that when we seek, through prayer, an understanding of the unchangeably good nature of God and His creation, a restoration of peace and harmony is natural. And not because God comes into the problem to fix it or take it away, but because prayer is a means of affirming reality as God knows it – that His is “the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever,” as the Lord’s Prayer says. And that is right here, and it includes unchanging health, harmony, and good with “no variation.”

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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.”

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