PRAYER is the desire of the human mind to reach the heavenly Father. Through hope, contrition, entreaty, supplication, and affirmation, it advances thought to reach the understanding which finds rest and peace in unity with God. The Lord's Prayer—the prayer which every Christian cherishes regardless of sect or denomination—provides different forms of prayerful approach to gain the ear of omniscience. Invocation, adoration, petition, repentance, and affirmation of law—all are included within its sacred words.
Prayer in its highest sense is more than a supplication. It is more than an entreaty or a rite of adoration. It is the law of God, the Father's will, asserting itself in individual consciousness, unveiling man's spiritual perfection as Love's beloved child. The very impulse to turn to God in prayer illustrates the incessant motion of divine law, uniting Mind and its expression in the infinite purposes of good. True prayer originates in God, not in self, and is inseparable from the one infinite Mind, the Principle of all that is true. Both prayer and answer, desire and fulfillment, evidence the presence and power of one all-inclusive God, good.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, says in her Message to The Mother Church for 1900 (p. 10), "All that worketh good is some manifestation of God asserting and developing good." To pray with certainty of success, one must understand divine law, embody it in character, and obey it in action. In such prayer there is no agony of supplication, but the calm assurance of thought which submits itself to a power it never questions.
God's law is His will. It is the invariable force of Spirit, the constant mode of Mind's activity, working eternally to produce and maintain a perfect, ordered universe of spiritual ideas. In man's real spiritual selfhood, the laws or constant energies of intelligence, love, and understanding which manifest the Father's will, are forever individualized. These forces of Spirit constitute man's consciousness and are invariable in goodness, usefulness, purity, understanding, and perfection. Man cannot depart from them, for his office or function is to embody them.
True prayer is not the turning of a little mind to a great one in helpless supplication, but is rather evidence of the one infinite divine Mind declaring its own harmony and allness through its idea. In so-called human experience, prayer is the awakening of individual consciousness to a recognition of God's allness and its own perfection in Science as Mind's inseparable reflection. The prayer of Christ Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus showed forth his understanding of the invariable forces or laws which bind man in perpetual unity with his Maker. There he said (John 11:41, 42): "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always."
Because divine law, God's will, finds expression in spiritual facts, it is the divine order of being, the spiritual reality—truth. The Psalmist, perceiving this to be true, sang ( Ps. 119:142), "Thy law is the truth." As in the science of mathematics, so in the Science of being, the fact is the order, and the order is the law.
Prayer, when utilized as divine law, is a realization of the spiritual fact or order which cannot fail to assert dominion over seeming human ills. Christ Jesus was defining prayer when he said (John 8:32), "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Spiritual facts, which Christian Science reveals to our understanding, disperse the erroneous, inharmonious illusions of the material senses, proving them to be untrue. For this reason, the spiritual fact of a situation is the law which governs that case.
The student of Christian Science treasures his textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy, as his priceless book of law, for therein he finds statements of spiritual fact, divine laws or invariable forces which reverse the errors besetting him. For instance, if he should feel that his understanding of God is inadequate to cope with his human problem, he may find in his search of the textbook such a healing statement as this (p.505): "Spirit imparts the understanding which uplifts consciousness and leads into all truth." Here is set forth a great spiritual fact, a revelation of Mind's invariable mode of self-expression —a divine and eternal truth. This truth is the fact of his real being, and it is the law which governs his case. By reason of its very truthfulness it rules out, in the degree that it is comprehended, the human belief of limited understanding, and this is answered prayer.
Let us presume that an individual is in great need of wisdom and guidance. In his prayerful search of the textbook he may find that the following statement sets forth the divine law that will meet his seeming need (p. 454): "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way." This fact reveals the unbroken motion of Love, the constant force of Spirit, the eternal action of the divine will. Understanding it to be the fact of his being, he is enabled to demonstrate it as the law that governs his case.
Christian Science, God's law, unfolds the eternal facts or truths of the spiritual, real creation and demonstrates them as the invariable forces or energies of infinite Mind. Its textbook states these truths in terms that are understandable and applicable in overcoming the illusions of material sense.
The full value of affirmative prayer becomes apparent as one realizes its declarations of truth to be statements of divine law. The twenty-third Psalm is a classic example of affirmative prayer. It states great spiritual facts; it declares the presence of invariable forces; it affirms eternal spiritual truths. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. . . . He restoreth my soul." Such comforting passages, fraught with great beauty, have been wonderfully effective in healing, for they acknowledge the order of real being, and each statement is an avowal of divine law.
Christ Jesus was utilizing the full value of affirmative prayer as the action of divine law when he said (John 4:50), "Thy son liveth," a fact which he instantly made evident to so-called human sense.
Divine law, the will of God, is done. Christian Science is teaching the individual how to come into harmony with it by affirming and understanding the facts of spiritual truth. Christian Science has given new vigor to prayer, lifting it into the status of intelligent realization of divine energies that never vary, that express the purposes of Love. The constant forces of Spirit, the invariable energies of Love, are available to all who seek the Father's will in prayer.