Watchfulness and Prayer

No professed Christian would deny the necessity for prayer, also for watchfulness, but the most sincere of these would readily admit that they do not avail themselves as they should of the protection and privilege therein involved. Even students of Christian Science, who are awakening to see the wide range of spiritual activity covered by watchfulness and prayer, are apt to excuse themselves for neglect of these requirements, on the ground that they are crowded out by other things, even by what seem the demands of duty. When, however, we admit this even for a moment, we unconsciously arraign the wisdom and justice of our Father, who never requires of us more than we can do; indeed, all that God requires of us is "for our good always," as Moses found out so long ago. It is well to remember here that Christ Jesus, who undoubtedly understood the Father's will, warned his disciples against long prayers and "vain repetitions," but he insisted upon constant watchfulness, and St. Paul advises us to pray without ceasing." If, however, we ponder these sayings in the light of Christian Science, we shall find them to be in perfect agreement with each other.

On page 4 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy lays great emphasis upon "silent prayer, watchfulness, and devout obedience," which, she adds, "enable us to follow Jesus' example,' and on page 116 of "Miscellaneous Writings" she thus defines obedience: "Never absent from your post, never off guard, never ill-humored, never unready to work for God." Now it is quite possible that one may find one's self so crowded with worldly cares that the prayer which calls for retirement may seem to be ruled out, and material sense may argue that even watchfulness is extremely difficult. The fact is, that without watchfulness everything is likely to be not only difficult but discordant, and the busy hour is the time when we most need the yoke of the Christ-spirit, which makes every burden light. If we then watch our thoughts constantly, knowing that the one important thing is to maintain a Christlike attitude, we shall be astonished at the clarity of vision which results, even while we are under the pressure of earthly demands. We shall know how to do things in the best way and thus shall be "more than conquerors," to quote St. Paul.

This sort of watchfulness really merges into prayer, for it lifts thought into communion with God; but it furnishes no argument for neglect of the kind of prayer enjoined by the Master, when he said we should enter into the closet and shut the door. Respecting this, our revered Leader says (Science and Health, p. 15): "To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error." Christ Jesus said, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation," and we cannot too often recall this warning. It matters not whether the temptation come from a projected thought of error, or whether it be some phase of mortal belief which lingers in the student's own consciousness, it must be met and destroyed by Truth, not entertained until it has wrought discord where there should be harmony.

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Among the Churches
August 8, 1914

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