Praying Aright

The writer was a Bible student for many years before coming into Christian Science, and was in the habit of turning, in moments of trial or indecision, to the comfort and good counsel of sacred texts. Upon one occasion, when an important question was to be met, one upon which seemed to depend the making or marring of much human happiness, the Psalms were opened at these words: "Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal. Thou hast proved mine heart; ... I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress." With a deep assurance that prayer had been answered, the seeker for guidance closed the book, and went forth from that supposed conference with divine wisdom to one of the most mistaken actions of her life, one that involved herself and others in a complication of snarls which were several years in the unwinding, though the mistake was obvious in as many weeks. Not the least of this bitter experience was the dismayed and heart-chilling belief that the Bible had failed her, that God could not always be depended upon.

Not until the writer had been studying Science for a number of years did the reason for this seeming failure appear to her; then in the dawning light she perceived it, with relief and great humility. She had made her decision before turning to the Bible, and had sought there simply for its confirmation, ready to read into any verse the answer that would accord with her preconceived opinion. Not yet voiced, but latent in thought, her course was fully determined upon when she came to confer with the Father. Instead of accepting the divinely loving invitation, "Come now, and let us reason together," it was as though she had said: "I have decided thus and thus in this matter, and should like to feel that Thy will coincides with mine. I shall in any event so interpret the answer, as I am quite sure that I have chosen for the best." Into such a condition of self-deceived self-will, what ray of divine leading could penetrate to keep one from going astray in the mazes of a vain and desolate dream? Yet even there, as it afterward became clear, Love was protecting and guiding and saving the seeker, despite this stubborn blindness; for the experience could easily have been a much sadder one and of longer duration.

How grateful are we, as Scientists, that this prayer of prayers is answered for us: "Lord, teach us to pray"! The opening chapter of our text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," may be called a key to the kingdom. In such profound yet simple statements as these we find the way of Life: "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be molded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds." "Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it" (pp. 1, 2). These and many other statements in the same chapter tend to spiritualize our concept of prayer, and to make it of real value in working out our human problems. On page 453 Mrs. Eddy says, "Honesty is spiritual power." With the devout purpose to be led aright, we can but pray aright, and such prayer is always answered. Witness the grand humility of our Master himself, who, with all his spiritual wisdom, never outlined his course, although he foresaw it, which is a very different thing.

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Democratic Church Government
February 27, 1915

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