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An effective way to pray

From the February 2015 issue of The Christian Science Journal

 Do you ever watch the evening news and wish you could make all the problems disappear? I have. I’ve often thought, “How could our world, so filled with good, have so many problems?” I wanted the people living in war-torn areas to live without fear. I wanted the floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes to stop, and for everyone to be free from pain and disease. 

As a Christian Scientist, I knew that evil and suffering were unknown to God, and I prayed to see their inability to affect man’s indestructible relationship to divine Love. But at the time, my desire to make God’s perfection realized right then was based on a material sense of life. I was trying to help the world achieve material perfection, rather than praying to understand the present harmony of God’s spiritual creation and letting that truth bring healing. The way I was praying, healing just wasn’t going to happen. I needed to pray on the basis of the allness of Spirit, divine Love, and the spiritual perfection of man, Love’s infinite expression.

In an article titled “Angels,” Mary Baker Eddy wrote,“God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 307). In seeking a more effective way to pray for humanity, I knew that God, Mind, was always giving me spiritual ideas, and they would inspire my prayers. As I continued to pray and listen, I felt God’s angel thoughts opening to me a higher understanding of life, enabling me to perceive life from a more spiritual perspective. This enlarged the purpose of my prayers, which took on a more expansive and urgent purpose. I saw that not only could I pray for the world as a whole, but as I healed myself and others, I could also help heal the world in that way; therefore, my mission as a healer took on added meaning and importance.

I recognized that hatred between individuals was the same hatred that was causing wars between countries and peoples around the world. Hatred was hatred no matter how big it seemed or how small it looked. It didn’t matter if it was at home, at church, in a remote village in Sierra Leone, Ukraine, Iraq, or Syria. I realized that I could contribute to its demise by the way I lived and thought each day.

In a heart filled with love, hatred cannot survive. 

In the By-Law “Alertness to Duty” in the Manual of The Mother Church, Mrs. Eddy states in part, “It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind” (p. 42). There was no real power that could make me feel angry or resentful. Only evil, or animal magnetism, would suggest that kind of thinking. As I eliminated these errors in my own thought, I was helping to diminish hatred in the world and its effect on others as well. This gave me a higher purpose and motivation for loving everyone I knew and not to yield to any temptation to be resentful. My prayer no longer seemed theoretical, self-serving, or self-centered. My life was taking on a whole new sense of purpose and dedication. 

Christ Jesus’ life was an obvious example of selfless love and prayer. He healed to serve God and so that others could feel and know God’s indestructible goodness. He fed and healed multitudes. He taught man’s oneness with God and how an understanding of that oneness transforms our lives. His prayers are over 2,000 years old, and yet what we read of them in the Bible is still uplifting and healing—especially the Lord’s Prayer, “which covers all human needs,” as Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 16). 

One of my first opportunities to pray beyond my own personal life was with family members. Situations from the past had caused sharp feelings of resentment. Because of this, my husband and I had not contacted my niece in years. She was not a Christian Scientist and was living in a care facility. This past summer we planned to visit the city where she was living. As I thought about the trip, it occurred to me that the stubborn will and self-righteousness in my family were not unlike attitudes between warring groups in the Middle East and elsewhere. I reasoned that if I sincerely prayed about problems in my own family and stopped clinging to some pain-filled thoughts from the past, I would be demonstrating, at least to a degree, the nothingness of the paralyzing hatred that seemed to prevent progress in the world.

God is the Father and Mother of us all. His love is impartial and universal. No one has ever been left out of His love, no matter how much the material sense of things may argue that some are accepted and others are not. Since God is our true Parent, and every one of us is the spiritual image of Love, I knew we could demonstrate divine Love more fully and express forgiveness toward these relatives. 

In a heart filled with love, hatred cannot survive. Trusting God helps us relinquish any attachment to human will or a personal sense of what we think is right. Understanding this gave me the motivation I needed. I saw that resolving the situation with my family had the potential of making a positive contribution to the world as well.

My desire to bless and overcome any lingering resentment enabled me to leave years of hurtful memories behind. I also included in my prayer the people in the Middle East, knowing that hatred has no place in the one God, one Mind. I felt a great all-encompassing love for everyone in our family, and in the family of man. My brother-in-law responded by helping to arrange for us to see my niece. What a blessing the whole experience turned out to be! My niece was happy to see us, and her caretakers at the facility where she lived were thrilled as well. I thanked God for the moments we spent with her. 

Letting go of the past was liberating. I came closer to understanding God’s great presence and the healing power of unconditional, universal, spiritual love. To me, this is the true key to happiness and peace, and to helping our world.

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