Who hasn't at one time prayed for something - health, well-being, happiness - and not received it? The effects of prayer can seem quite variable, even capricious. But when we look deeper into what prayer actually is, we find that our heart's desire, more than words, determines the results of our prayer.
The reason for this is that the very essence and substance of prayer is desire.m When our desire is to grow Spiritward and to do God's will, we are genuinely praying, and God answers our needs. But if one really desires money or fame or pleasure in matter above all else, his materialistic desires betray his words, however fervent or reverent.
How important, then, that our inner desires be spiritually based if we would gain the lasting health, happiness, and fulfillment that God alone bestows. The prayer that divine Love answers with certainty is deep, honest, and inspired with a sense that Spirit, not matter, is the ultimate reality and Truth.
If our desires are matter-oriented, carnal, worldly, we are heading down a dead-end street. Health in matter eventually becomes sickness in matter; youth in matter, age in matter; pleasure in matter, pain in matter. The Bible puts it this way: ''He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.'' n1
n1 Galatians 6:8.
Only in Spirit, God, can we find the fulfilling life and happiness we desire. Now, this is not to say that our human desires for bodily health, a good job, a nice place to live, companionship, and so on, are wrong. But to put these on a higher basis, and for everlastingm happiness, our desires must be purified, uplifted, and oriented toward Spirit, God, the source of all real good. Then our conscious, verbal prayers begin to have healing effect and meet our needs.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, says, ''Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.'' n2 And she goes on to say, ''What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.'' n3
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.1.
n3 Ibid., p.4.
What we most need! Not prayer for more income, a new job, a companion, or even bodily health, although all these have their right place, but that fervent desire for growth in grace. Isn't this what Christ Jesus meant when he said, ''Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you''? n4
n4 Matthew 6:33.
And again, our desire must be pure. It's not ''Seek God so all these things I want will be added unto me.'' Our seeking of the kingdom of God must be humble, childlike, a seeking of the things of Spirit for their own sake. Does that sound too lofty and abstract? It's not.
Christian Science explains that ''heaven'' is the true substance of everything beautiful and good, but without the limitations of matter. Through innate spiritual sense we see something of this reality now. And fervent prayer, ''expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds,'' will bring more of the things of Spirit to light. This revelation transforms our experience and heals us and others.
Once we realize where and what heaven is and seek it, there's no limit to the love and goodness we can bring to our experience. Jesus shows us the grand possibilities, and he is our Exemplar. If we really desire heaven, we will have it, in ever-increasing degree, as God Himself molds and exalts our heart's desires. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth. Colossians 3:2