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The joy of daily prayer

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

I was recently in an email conversation with someone who is digging deeper in her study of Christian Science and gaining fresh insights. She asked for some thoughts about how to pray for herself in preparation for each day. 

How awesome it is to be able to start every day by acknowledging God, Spirit, as All!

I was glad my friend brought up this question. Christ Jesus urges us to “watch … and pray” (Luke 21:36), and following his example of taking time alone to commune with God has been so helpful to me. Praying for ourselves may sound selfish when there are so many people and situations in need of our prayers. But I’ve found that when I begin each day by affirming my inseparable relationship to God, and gain a better understanding of the implications of that relationship, with this altitude of thought I’m better able to help not only myself but those who call on me for prayer.

I explained in my email response that there is no formula for prayer, but shared some general thoughts about how I pray. They seemed fairly simple, such as recognizing our divine purpose and our God-given dominion.

The email I got back surprised me. My friend (who gave me permission to share this) was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to start the day this way. She wrote: “I feel like you just took a sack of Christmas presents and dumped them all out in front of me. Wow! Thank you so, so much.”

I suddenly realized that for weeks I had been getting up early to pray for myself but approaching it in an uninspired way—just going through the motions, as though prayer was a requirement to check off my daily to-do list. While Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, spoke often of the importance of Christian Scientists praying for themselves daily, and even said it was a duty (see Church Manual, pp. 40–42), sometimes it can feel a little too dutiful, and we lose touch with the joy of acknowledging how God is blessing us. 

The sheer delight this friend shared really awakened me to how awesome it is to be able to start every day by acknowledging God, Spirit, as All, as good and ever present, and defending thought from whatever would tempt us to think otherwise. While some mornings may still feel more inspired than others, my early prayers each day have become much more energized and fresh.

Why shouldn’t we find great joy in our daily prayers? They’re the best gift we can give ourselves—and the world! They reap benefits in ways beyond what we might expect, and prepare thought spiritually to meet whatever challenges we may face personally or see humanity facing. There is great comfort in knowing that we can wake up each morning and expect to see the fruits of our prayers in spiritual healing, which is a sure “sign of Immanuel, or  ‘God with us’ ” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. xi).

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