Recognizing good—here and now

Ever-present good, God—not some future possibility of good—is the only real basis for effectual, healing prayer.

It occurred to me on my morning walk recently that my prayers had become overly complicated and focused on the future. Wow, I thought, it’s almost as if I’ve been trying to redecorate human problems with spiritual truth so they’ll have a shot at looking better tomorrow or the next day. I realized I’d been trying to argue myself into winning something I believed I lacked.

This awareness stopped me in my tracks. I stood still for a long moment, noting the flowers dotting the farthest field, remembering that ever-present good, God—not some future possibility of good—is the only real basis for effectual, healing prayer. I also affirmed that “prayer is the simplest form of speech / That infant lips can try” (James Montgomery, Christian Science Hymnal, Hymn 284).

Take Ingrid, my friend’s new baby. She has no need to define the future, much less pray about it. To Ingrid, everything is present, real, unprojected, fully alive. Every shift of light, color, texture, and sound is a wonder-inducing blend of peace, power, and amazement. She lives without the limits of either human language or time.

I wondered, What if I could consistently pray without such limits? If I recognized abundant, present good as a child does, the future, with its fears and years, would recede into the reality of timeless divine Life, God. This kind of prayer is its own language beyond specific words. It doesn’t generate, or need to generate, future good; it simply feels present with God, divine Love. 

When my prayers are childlike and the qualities of spiritual sense (receptivity, humility, peace, joy, innocence, willingness, and so on) are active in my thought, concerns about the future dissolve. I’ve felt this shift before, and I yearn to pray more simply, with deep, profound, present truths, such as this affirmation from the chapter “Prayer” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more?” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 2). Later in the same book Mrs. Eddy writes: “The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!” (p. 520). The more I accept these truths, the more I relinquish a sense of personal ego with its projections of envy, boredom, anger, selfishness, disease, sin, and death. 

That day, as I stood gazing across the fields, I remembered an experience I’d had with praying to recognize present good. It had moved my thinking from a concept of life as material and required me to discard a material view of myself.

For many years I’d been unhappy about the house I lived in. I was frustrated with pretty much everything about it and lived in a constant state of complaint. This was a strain on my joy and certainly not good for my family. I often “prayed” about this, but my prayers were like windshield wipers stuck in the up position, not doing anything to clear my vision. 

The thing is, I was doing a whole lot of asking for things to be better tomorrow. But one day I got the idea to do an about-face and take a firm stand to acknowledge present good right here, right now, in what I was coming to understand as my real home: my consciousness. 

I revisited a simple, powerful piece of prose Mrs. Eddy wrote titled “Angels.” Here’s the part I latched on to: “Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 307).

I’ve always loved that gentle, firm command, and I decided to get on board with it. So I unstuck my “wipers” and applied the truth of present good to my thinking about my situation. I demanded my right to clearly see God’s ever-present help and goodness right here and now, with me and with anyone my thoughts rested on. I protested the merest whiff of complaint and took up the challenge of celebrating the home that Love had provided for me—the home of Spirit, God. 

As I prayed in this way, a new feeling of peace and lightheartedness replaced complaint. A more spiritual sense of home settled within me. This led me to rediscover my true, joyful, childlike nature. With this new outlook came new ideas for practical adjustments we could make to our house—for example, fresh room arrangements, painting, and polishing—to liven up spaces I once believed couldn’t possibly be revived. 

The next “a-ha” happened when, one night at a weekly testimony meeting in my branch Church of Christ, Scientist, someone spoke about being released from envy through prayer. Until then, I hadn’t recognized that I, too, had been envying. Not only had I been complaining regularly about my own home, but I’d been silently coveting other people’s houses. I’d visit the dearest of friends and come away depressed and sad, not recognizing why.

It was a huge relief to uncover this error through my prayers. I could readily see that coveting anything was foreign to my spiritual nature—indeed, to anyone’s. I already had all the good I would ever need from God, the infinite source of good, and understanding this truly satisfied me and freed me from envy.

I hadn’t needed a different house. I’d needed to become aware that I live now, as we all do, in the presence of the gratitude, joy, and humility of boundless divine Love. The shift had occurred entirely in my thinking. Making a regular practice of acknowledging present good had opened the way for a more beautiful understanding and expression of home. 

I finished my walk, gratefully remembering this healing experience, and felt more focused on the presence of Love. Instead of praying to gain something later, next week, or next year, we can pray to honor and understand pure and present good, divine Love. And because our prayers are based in infinite Love, they include everyone, near and far. 

The passage from Mrs. Eddy’s essay “Angels” quoted earlier continues: “What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort.”

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