Effective Prayer

Do moments come when one's sincere efforts are seemingly fruitless? Are there times in our experience when we think we have labored conscientiously over a trying difficulty without desired results, times when earnest prayer seems to go unanswered, and we appear not to know how to go on? Perhaps in these circumstances the immediate necessity is for a spiritual review of the fundamentals of our faith, so that we may gain a clearer appreciation of prayer. Have we been praying aright? One should be confident of the correctness of his understanding, and truly aware of the right application of the spiritual rules, in order that his prayer may be of avail. In order to accomplish effective prayer, our motives, methods, and purposes need to be genuinely spiritualized. Do we enter into prayer wholly convinced of the powerlessness and unreality of error by any name? Do we, innocently but ignorantly, try to disguise material wishes by describing them in spiritual terms? Or, to give special emphasis to thought, do we vocalize prayer to impress divine Mind? God is unaware of the material aspects of human existence. He knows neither material objects over which or for which we may pray, nor material modes of human endeavor. God knows true thought only, and supports only honest motives and righteous desires. His good gifts are altogether spiritual.

What, then, is the nature of true prayer? What is intelligent prayer, the spiritual means which dissolves difficulties into nothingness and brings happiness and peace, love and harmony, health and prosperity? This vital question finds its complete answer in the first chapter of Mrs. Eddy's textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which gives a new significance to prayer based on rational purpose and fraught with true power. This is the prayer which heals the sick and delivers the sinner from bondage. It is the substance of every Christian Science treatment, the very spirit or essence of genuine faith. If at times we seem to advance slowly on the highway of righteousness; if the allness of good and the nothingness of error or evil seem outside our present apprehension; if advance is halted by a seeming sense of futility, we shall find this chapter on Prayer a well of living water. The worldly-minded, weary and thirsty, may think themselves not satisfied with having come to this well; but gratitude for present good silences any human tendency to complain over having to draw the water from the well. The earnest Christian Scientist should turn frequently to this inspired source of spiritual refreshment and encouragement. This will bring him into harmony with the divine, and assure him the joy, the peace, and the plenitude of blessings that are rightfully his.

Prayer, as Christian Science defines it, is characterized by faith, humility, love, spiritual desire, spiritual understanding. It recognizes God's allness, and thus refutes every pretense of error and materiality. Prayer is affirmative, positive, and is expressed through spiritual thought. "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick," writes our Leader in Science and Health (p. 1), "is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,—a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love." And on page 11 is this pointed passage: "Prayer cannot change the unalterable Truth, nor can prayer alone give us an understanding of Truth; but prayer, coupled with a fervent habitual desire to know and do the will of God, will bring us into all Truth. Such a desire has little need of audible expression." Because of the prevalence of superstitious beliefs, this revolutional sense of prayer, coming as a lofty revelation, requires the enlightening amplification found in the opening chapter of the textbook. Here, for all mankind, is the key to the understanding and demonstration of the prayer that inspires, heals, transforms.

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Completing Our Demonstration
May 18, 1935

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