Q: How can I get the most out of my prayers?
A: I used to do a lot of weight lifting. When I lifted with my coach, Joe, he would always say, “Squeeze the muscle at the top.” What Joe meant was, in order to get the most out of the work, pause and squeeze harder than ever before at the peak of the lift. The lesson I learned from this was to resist just going through the motions or counting repetitions without getting the full benefit of whatever I’m doing. I’ve applied his coaching to the way I pray.
When I pray, I like to ask God what He knows about me or about the situation I’m dealing with. Once I hear God’s response, I “squeeze” the insights God has given. Meaning, I deliberately value the spiritual facts that have come through prayer. I recognize and acknowledge God’s messages as the foundation of healing in any situation.
By “squeezing at the top,” I stay with the inspiration. I let my heart be moved—I keep praying until I really feel God’s tender guidance, or sense just how known and special I am to Him.
I deliberately value the spiritual facts that come through prayer.
Once my heart moves, I know the healing is happening. And then I see the changes in my life—whether with a romantic relationship, with my work or my friends, or even with my health.
During my weight-lifting era, I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned that prayer brings healing. So I prayed immediately, and then consistently for several days. Every time I prayed, I would hear and feel God’s clear message on the real essence of what my body is, where my strength comes from, and how innocent I am. I soaked in this truth of my spiritual identity—my God-given wholeness and strength, which are always present and intact. I squeezed at the top prayerfully. The healing was complete within a week, without my particularly favoring the shoulder or altering my routine—and has been permanent.
But what about those times when we find ourselves simply going through the motions in prayer, with “arms flopping up and down,” so to speak? That’s when I stop. I mentally regroup. I remind myself that God’s messages are important—that they are tailor-made for me, and are worthy of my full attention. When I sit down to pray, I really show up. I’m vigilant to not just warm the bench. I check in with myself and ask what new ideas I’ve heard or what familiar ideas I’ve applied in a fresh way. To me, this is squeezing my spiritual “muscle” at the peak of the exertion.
When I sit down to pray, I really show up. I’m vigilant to not just warm the bench. I check in with myself and ask what new ideas I’ve heard, or what familiar ideas I’ve applied in a fresh way.
It can be easy to go through life on autopilot. It’s easy to coast—whether in school, at the gym, or in our spiritual growth. But when I look at my spiritual role models, Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy—the Discoverer of Christian Science and author of a book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that helps me to understand Jesus’ teachings—it’s clear that neither spent even a day coasting. They were fully engaged with their prayers, fully committed to a life of living and loving God. The results were life-changing for the people they encountered and for the world.
Loving the spiritual facts we perceive and gleaning everything we can from these ideas is a great way to get the most out of our prayers. What’s important to remember is that God does the healing. We never muscle our way through! Your job is to consciously love the truth that God whispers into your heart. This makes room for this truth to transform your thoughts—and bring healing.