The Prayer of Understanding

The present is a time of great change in the views commonly held by mankind regarding many phases of religion and worship. In no direction is this change more pronounced than in regard to prayer, its method and purpose. Some indication of the trend and extent of this change may be gained from the "Signs of the Times" in this issue of the Sentinel. It is true beyond peradventure of doubt that this development of thought has been simultaneous with the dissemination of Mrs. Eddy's teachings regarding prayer. Her conclusion as to the importance of the subject is revealed in the fact that "Prayer" is the title of the first chapter in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. In the very first paragraph of that chapter she says, "Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind." What could be more significant of the importance our Leader attached to the subject of prayer?

One quite naturally, perhaps, questions as to the particulars in which Christian Science teaching differs from the generally accepted canons regarding prayer. First of all, it is held, a correct concept of God, a knowledge of His nature and attributes, precedes a right understanding of prayer. How can one pray aright unless he first of all knows something of the Being, or power, to whom he prays? Christ Jesus was so sure of the necessity of correct knowledge of God that he uttered these memorable words: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." To learn to know God and His Christ rightly, then, is a preliminary to the gaining of eternal life. Mrs. Eddy's clear teaching about God has won the everlasting gratitude of her students and of many other earnest religionists as well. She has revealed the character, quality, and attributes of Deity, and has pointed the way for all to acquire this most important knowledge.

Now the facts of God's nature, qualities, and attributes gained, the next step is to establish relations with Him, the Father of us all. This, we learn, is accomplished through prayer. There is, perhaps, no more explicit statement in regard to the method of prayer than is found on page 12 of Science and Health. Under the marginal heading "Prayer for the sick," Mrs. Eddy says, "It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,—of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love."

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Enduring to the End
July 14, 1923

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