Obviously some desires are better than others, and we should watch what we pray for. But, when we let our desires be molded and lifted up by the Christ, the animating truth of God, Good, then prayer results in untold blessings that leave no one out. Lifting up our desires to God, and letting our desires be lifted up by the healing Christ brings us into a healthy conversation with the Divine.
Mary Baker Eddy recognized five demands of effective affirmative prayer. (See Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 466-467) This is my take on those demands:
- Have one God, Spirit, Mind and one reality, which is spiritual.
- Understand that this one God is reflected in man and all creation. Love is reflected in love. Truth in truth. Life in life. Let your prayer help you to love your neighbor better, to be more honest, to express better health.
- Remember that God is not in the problem and that Life is not in matter or evil. Light is not in darkness. Soul is not in a material body. Good is not in evil.
- Have the largest sense of what God is and work out from, not up to, the divine perspective. Let the divine Cause lead you to the discovery of all true effect. When our prayers are about getting the largest sense of God and spiritual man instead of troubleshooting problems we can really get somewhere. Allow yourself to see as God sees.
- Never forget that perfect God creates and maintains His creation at the point of perfection. Creation has never fallen from a state of perfection and we don't have to be afraid that we ever will.
I guess we could say that prayer changes things like the sun changes its position during the course of the day. It's a matter of perspective. If we are earthbound in our thinking then, yes, it looks like the sun moves. If we are problembound in our prayers then, yes, we'll expect prayer to change things.
But the beauty of prayer is that it can open us to a more accurate perspective of the way God works. Prayer reveals God as an unchanging divine Principle that has never forgotten or neglected even the tiniest element of His spiritual creation. Here are three important points:
- Prayer can't change God or the real "us", but prayer can help us see more clearly what is really going on.
- Prayer doesn't deliver health, but it can reveal it.
- Prayer doesn't create love, but it can unfold it.
Many are familiar with the King James version of the Lord's Prayer. It can be helpful to look at other translations and paraphrases from time to time to bring out the truths from another angle. Here is the Lord's Prayer as recorded in Eugene Peterson's The Message:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
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