`I HAVE a five-step plan for better living,'' a friend told me. ``I pray for myself every day, and I start this prayer in the five steps it takes me to go from my bed to the shower!'' We both laughed. But my friend was serious. He explained that for years he had prayed whenever he was sick or in trouble, but now he saw the value of praying for himself every day, trouble or no. ``And getting started is important,'' he said. ``I find it necessary to begin praying when I first wake so that I can see the day from God's perspective rather than mine.''
The importance of prayer is, of course, a fundamental lesson of the Bible. The lives of such figures as Moses, Elijah, and Paul show the beneficial effects of communion with God. The practice of praying regularly is another Biblical lesson. Daniel, we're told, prayed three times daily. And Christ Jesus on occasion prayed all night. The Psalmist declared, ``My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.''1
Doesn't the phrase ``look up'' aptly describe how we can best pray for ourselves? Though it may seem as if we're involved in yet another day of the hustle of human existence, along with every other mortal, this isn't how God sees any of us.
God sees us as His children, created spiritually in His own image. Because God is Himself divine Life, the only ``life'' His children are really ``involved in'' is the life that is of God. Man lives, knows, and acts in divine Spirit, as God's child.
If we allow it, daily demands can hide this spiritual perspective. When we ``look up'' to God in prayer, we can affirm His presence, strength, and wisdom in our lives. Perhaps we would pray more often if we trusted less in ourselves and what we think a given day will include and more in God and His purpose for us. Through daily prayer we can let God's goodness, instead of routine or human will, direct our activities. Christ Jesus gives us this important guideline: ``...pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.''2
What our Father sees ``in secret'' -- what is imperceptible to material sight -- is the truth of our own spiritual nature. Of course, the world believes one's personal nature is an open thing. It's sometimes said: ``He's a good man, but watch that temper!'' or ``She's bright but a little slippery.'' It's what our Father knows in secret, however, that constitutes who we are. As we live according to this truth, the good that God sees in us -- untainted by anything bad or wrong -- will become more evident. His ``open reward'' will be seen in our improved character.
Daily prayer alerts us to the need for our spiritual and moral growth to continue steadily. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Simply asking that we may love God will never make us love Him; but the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness.''3
As we pray, not for certain things to happen or someone else to change, but to understand more clearly the way God has made us in His spiritual likeness, we'll feel a lifting force in our own lives. Each day will bring us more good because each day will be prayer-filled.
1Psalms 5:3. 2Matthew 6:6. 3Science and Health, p. 4.
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