In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy asks, “What are the motives for prayer?” (p. 2). This question has made me think deeply because of the many ways people pray to God: “God, bless me with health and wealth.” “Father, I want to be in this specific career.” “God, I want a romantic relationship with that girl.” “If You, Father, do this for me, I will exalt You and praise You, until others know that You are God.” I believe that many people might pray along these lines out of an earnest desire to meet their wants or needs. I used to pray similarly, until Science and Health taught me a higher sense of prayer.
Soon after completing my high school education about ten years ago, I became a student of Christian Science, having been recently introduced to it by a friend. I was interested in reading Science and Health, the Christian Science textbook, and learning more about my relationship to God. I hadn’t read very far when I came to a statement that stopped me in my tracks: “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” (p. 1). “Wow!” I thought, “What would happen if this was true?”
I had been born and brought up in a big slum in Africa, where my three brothers, my sister, and I had to raise ourselves. (Our mother lived far away for work, but would send us money.) Simply completing primary and secondary school was an amazing achievement. I was the first one in my immediate and extended family of about 40 people to do so. But I had gambled to make ends meet and pay for school fees, and I had also trained in boxing, just in case I ever needed to fight. Everything changed when I trusted God to “mould” and “exalt” my desires.
I remember a peaceful and calm moment when I reached out to God in prayer with the desire, “Father, I want to serve You, but I don’t want to walk to church.” That may sound funny, but the branch Church of Christ, Scientist, was an hour’s walk away—but only eight minutes by bus. I didn’t want to arrive at church sweaty and dusty. But if I was to take the bus, I had to raise 50 Kenyan shillings (KES), or about 56 cents in United States currency, each week to travel to and from church on the bus. I also desired to give at least 10 KES (or 11 cents) to the church each week.
This was my simple prayer, and I felt it would be a great demonstration of the fact that “no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires.” I didn’t know if it would be possible to raise that money each week, but I completely trusted God to take care of my desire. God is all-knowing, infinite, divine Mind, who always supplies all our needs, and I could trust that spiritual truth.
It turned out I was able to work at my brother’s meat kiosk all week long, and that helped me raise the bus fare. On some Sundays, my friend who had introduced me to Christian Science paid my bus fare. I am so grateful to say that after trusting my desire to God, I never missed going to church because of lack of money, and I was always able to contribute to the church even more than my intended goal of 10 KES (11 cents) each week.
This was by no means the end of trusting God with my desires. Many wonderful blessings followed. Three years later, I found myself a branch church member, happily serving as the librarian for the local Christian Science Reading Room and serving in other capacities as well, including even serving The Mother Church’s youth department.
I was able to move out of the slum a few years ago. God is the source of infinite supply, and by trusting Him I was able to pursue further education. I realized that what I desired most was to serve humanity, and I was able to attend university, earn a bachelor’s degree in peace and conflict studies, and start my own nonprofit organization. I am most grateful to God and Christian Science, for I have seen my desires “moulded and exalted,” opening the way for me to serve mankind. What would happen if we all trusted God to shape our desires?
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