Why pray?

Originally published in the September 11, 1970 issue of The Christian Science Monitor

People pray for many reasons. Some feel they should. Some do it from habit. Some are afraid of what may happen if they don’t. But many know from experience that prayer helps them to think better, feel better, and do better.

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What is prayer? Prayer is communion with God. It is the outreaching thought that turns away from self-centeredness and smallness and opens to the infinite, the enduring, the wise, and good.

Mary Baker Eddy Mary Baker Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the author of the textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures writes, “Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.” Science and Health, p. 1

Christian Science explains that God is Mind—your real Mind. And this Mind is where all good and intelligent thoughts come from.

Real prayer—the kind that heals all problems—is listening to these thoughts as they come straight to you from God.

Thought, then, is always basic to prayer. Words that sound like prayers can be said out loud without thought, and no prayer has then really taken place. But thoughts of reassurance, conviction, confidence, and strength which come from the divine source, eternal Mind, can bring help to anyone in need. They are prayers, even if no word has been spoken.

Christ Jesus lived close to God, and he prayed often. He taught his disciples to pray and urged them: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”Matt. 6:7, 8

Why pray? Because through right desire and spiritual longing prayer lifts your thought to respond naturally and expectantly to divine Mind. This lets wisdom, justice, and love flow into your thoughts and experience. Prayer can change your thought and this in turn can change your experience. Prayer nourishes the universal desire for good.

Prayer is not an obligation, a habit, a superstition, or just a formal thing to do. It is a lifeline to infinite good. Prayer quiets, clears, strengthens, and brings new life to thought.

Mrs. Eddy writes in No and Yes: “Prayer begets an awakened desire to be and do good. It makes new and scientific discoveries of God, of His goodness and power. It shows us more clearly than we saw before, what we already have and are; and most of all, it shows us what God is. Advancing in this light, we reflect it; and this light reveals the pure Mind-pictures, in silent prayer, even as photography grasps the solar light to portray the face of pleasant thought.” No and Yes, p. 39

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