MY small engineering firm had received a contract to improve a component for a communications system. During the initial work I found a number of ways to demonstrate mathematically the severe limitations of the product. The other engineer working with me became increasingly despondent as I kept pointing out all the difficulties we faced. I wasn't very hopeful myself. Our firm was running out of money for this project, and we still had not improved the component.
Late one evening, though, after a period spent in other productive activity, I decided to return to work on the component. This time I went about things a little differently. I began by praying.
As a Christian Scientist, I'd had many times when I had prayed for a particular need to be filled--and had my prayers answered. I knew that I could again trust God, who has limitless love for His creation, man, to provide the ideas I needed now. In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew's Gospel, Christ Jesus assures us, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. My prayer, then, didn't need to somehow persuade God to intervene or produce a change in the circumstances. I needed to
be willing to accept the good God had already provided.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, discusses prayer at length in the first chapter of her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Very early in this chapter she points out: "Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind.
Prayer is not a humanly devised method to bring about divine intervention; nor is it a series of words for us to repeat and by doing so cause God to act on our behalf. Instead, prayer is God's provision to us to change our thinking, to make our thoughts more Godlike, to help us understand God better.
As I prayed to be obedient to God in solving this problem, I was able to work unhindered by the limitations that had earlier stymied the project. The results of the next few hours were dramatic. I was able to align a working device from parts that had been tried and thought to be imperfect. As I finished the assembly, I was tempted to leave it in the alignment fixture so that my colleagues could see the good results.
But then the thought came to me, Finish it. In the next few minutes I was able to change the assembly further to one that was mechanically rigid and environmentally stable. I then locked the various pieces in place and removed the device from the assembly fixture. The next morning we gave this prototype to the customer for testing, and they found it more stable than any they had tested before. Together we worked out a plan for the continuation of our efforts in the future.
Now, if we had continued to follow the standard engineering procedures we had been using, we might have reached this point of success in a few days or maybe not. By praying to God, however, and by desiring not just to make a working device but consciously to be obedient to the intelligence and wisdom of God, divine Mind, I was able to break through my limitations and finish the project.
As we pray, we stop focusing our attention on limitation and begin to follow God's direction. And best of all, when we use God's gracious means, everyone is blessed.
Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.