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Resistless prayer

From the September 12, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Prayer—how’s it working for you? Those of us who pray are often looking for ways to make it work better for us. There’s an unspeakable spiritual richness that comes from quietly and deeply connecting to our loving Father-Mother. Prayer can inspire us, guide us, assure us, and much more.

But once you’ve decided to devote time to prayer, have you ever felt as if you were slogging through molasses when you actually sat down to do it? I have. Once, after settling down with a determination not to move until I had put in some decent prayer time, I got distracted and, without thinking, went off to another room, to sort laundry!

Even when we really want to be still and listen to God, it may sometimes seem as if every distraction on earth is whispering (or even yelling) for us to notice it instead of God.

So what do we do when we seem to be bombarded on all sides by dings, rings, long to-do lists, etc.? How do we gain or regain our spiritual momentum? We could put prayer as the top priority on our to-do list. And hope that it really stays there.

Or we could try what could be a better way …

Here are two things I’ve found helpful—and I’m sure other people have found even more. First, it’s important to reach out to God for help in overcoming any sense of resistance. In the situation I described earlier, I realized that humanly willing myself to pray would not be the right path to healing. That was eye-opening for me.

Prayer can inspire us, guide us, assure us, and much more.

I had tried for years to force myself to sit and be quiet. That use of human will had proved pretty unsuccessful. I remember asking God to help me. The Christ, God’s message to us of spiritual reality, quickly opened my eyes. I knew that I had to surrender all human will. I needed to yield rather than push. I could trust in my natural and honest heartfelt desire to get closer to God. That honest desire for closer communion with God is the key that opens the door to being able to yield to Mind’s presence and unfoldment, rather than giving in to mortal mind’s cries for attention. That was the opposite of the way I had been approaching prayer and study.

The desire to gain a closer sense of God’s presence in our lives is a prayer that we can expect to be answered. In fact, in the first chapter of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which is titled “Prayer,” Mary Baker Eddy makes it clear that cultivating a heartfelt desire to know God better is requisite for us to see results. In fact, this pure desire is supported by the Christ and is fulfilled by the all-inspiring and ever-present divine Spirit. In other words, this desire puts us in touch with divine, infinite Truth. Our thought is lifted by the presence of Christ until it is more than a mere human prayer. It is a yielding to omnipresent Mind, and it’s empowered by Spirit itself. As this happens, we will find that resistance to praying will diminish until it vanishes. The yearning to progress spiritually, while wholeheartedly yielding to divine Mind, is a galvanizing force in discovering resistless prayer and its consequent spiritual growth.

In essence, I had to put God in the driver’s seat, and listen—really listen—for His direction.

The second thing I have found helpful is to recognize that even if it seems as if there is a power weighing against our efforts to get closer to God, it’s possible to destroy this false sense of opposition when we understand that God, good, is All-in-all. Any supposed resistance to God is a product of the carnal mind—the belief that life is material and that God is unable or unwilling to help us. When viewed from a spiritual perspective, this is impossible. For there to be resistance, there would have to be something more than All, something that would be oppositional to God, to good. A fundamental truth of Christian Science is God’s oneness. God, the infinite, the only, fills all space. There is no room for anything to oppose when all, everywhere, is good. The object of our prayer is to witness this allness to the point where what seems to be opposed to the divine fades from consciousness, and the radiant reality of being is revealed. 

Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, “Mind is perpetual motion” (p. 240). In the realm of Mind, there is continuous movement. Wouldn’t this be seen as ideas flowing effortlessly, without colliding, in perfect concord? Prayer involves the movement of spiritual ideas in consciousness, and there can be no resistance to Mind and its uninterrupted flow of ideas to us.

Jesus proved this many times during his three-year ministry. One example is when he walked on the sea to reach the boat that contained his disciples. At first they were afraid, but as the Bible relates: “He saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went” (John 6:20, 21).

The disciples had rowed 25 or 30 furlongs (three to almost four miles) before Jesus came to them. Once their fear was silenced and they received the Christ into their midst, they didn’t need to row any longer. There was no resistance to the movement of the boat, and it was immediately at their destination.

Jesus didn’t have to think of overcoming the mortal beliefs of resistance, which would have meant that time and effort would be needed to get across the water. He understood completely that God is ever active, and that all creation is in harmony with God’s plan, and that true movement is instant. These spiritual facts automatically excluded any claim of distance, separation, or interference with being where he needed to be. He showed the world that true movement is resistless.

I’ve been learning to simply get still and actually feel myself let go of the clamor of daily life.

And as our Way-shower, he indicated that we can demonstrate it, too. Even though we may not be as advanced in our understanding of God’s presence and power as Jesus was, the laws he demonstrated are there for us to demonstrate, too, and we learn them through our increasing understanding of Christian Science.

Admittedly it’s taken practice for me to resist the distractions of daily living, but I’ve been learning to simply get still and actually feel myself let go of the clamor of daily life. I consciously surrender the sense of being a mortal trying to become more spiritual. It is mentally leaving behind a belief that I have a separate selfhood and entering into the sanctuary of divine Mind. I ask God to reveal Himself, Herself, to me. It’s like, in Mrs. Eddy’s words, having “audience with Spirit” (Science and Health, p. 15).

When I’m in that place, I’m not doing the talking. I’m listening to Mind unfolding the spiritual insights I need. There is a freedom in which ideas and inspiration just flow. There is no intrusion of distractions and time constraints. It is a place of resistless communion with God. It is holy.

This can be seen as a step toward demonstrating resistless progress, like Jesus’ ship being immediately on the other side. That could happen because, as we learn through our study of Christian Science, there can be no resistance to forward motion in God’s allness. We, too, as we pray and study, can find ourselves immediately “in the Spirit,” free from any elements that would keep us from fully experiencing God’s glorious presence. That exquisite joy is available for all.

Deborah Huebsch

Prayer is the heart’s sincere desire,
   Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
   That trembles in the breast.

—James Montgomery, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 284

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