A new way of helping others

Originally appeared online in the teen series: Your Healings - December 20, 2017

“I don’t know,” I answered.

Most days I didn’t feel like I had a very inspired response to my dad’s daily question of, “How did you help someone today?” For the past year, my endless routine of school, soccer, home—repeat—had begun to make me feel like I was going through my day with no purpose, and this was reflected in my answers. But today, as I thought about my dad’s question, I realized that helping someone doesn’t always have to mean picking up trash or holding the door. 

I remembered a story that a Christian Scientist who’d come to speak to our school had told about what she’d done when her house was in the middle of one of the biggest wildfires in California. She shared how she prayed for others over herself. She also said that, after the fire, she received calls from Churches of Christ, Scientist, around the world whose members had prayed for her and her family, and how they’d been protected—and so had their house. This story stuck with me because, instead of praying for herself or her home, the speaker had prayed for others affected by the fires.

I’d always assumed that the only way I could help others was by doing tangible things like helping someone carry something that was too heavy to carry alone or picking something up that one of my classmates dropped in the hall. But as I reflected on what the speaker had shared with us, I realized that I could also help people as much, or even more, by including them in my prayers.

The first place where I put this change of thought into action was in Sunday School. In the past, when we’d prayed silently together during the opening portion of Sunday School, I’d always struggled to figure out what to pray about, and I often felt like I didn’t think about anything useful during that time. Now, instead of being at a loss for something to pray about, I knew what to do. I started giving gratitude to God for my family and for the people in my school and in my church. Rather than praying about my own needs, I found myself thinking about my friends, family, and more, and letting God show me how I could love them better or see them more spiritually.

The feeling that I was stuck in a routine vanished, and now I’m grateful every day for opportunities to help others by putting prayer into action.

I also took this new approach into my soccer practices. That spring was my first high school soccer season, and it was proving to be difficult. I had already tried praying about how things could get better—how I could run faster or be more in shape. But now I started focusing on our whole team. During hard drills or hot games, I prayed by giving gratitude for my teammates and acknowledging that our strength and ability were qualities from God, so they had to be enough. This got me out of a mind-set of praying from a standpoint of lack. I began being thankful for all the good from God that I knew I already had, since God’s goodness is ever present. And instead of wishing to be a better player, I gave gratitude for all the ways I was expressing God.

Praying for others also had a powerful effect on me. I began to notice, and feel grateful for, the good in my life and to feel more of a sense of purpose. The feeling that I was stuck in the dull repetition of a routine vanished, and now I’m grateful every day for opportunities to help others in the most powerful way I know how: by putting prayer into action.

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