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Prayer Is Higher Than Technique

TECHNIQUE and technology are uppermost in many minds today. Knowing how to do a thing draws great respect, and for some it is as though technique were the only aspect of a subject worth considering.

But not everything is a matter of technique. While artists surely benefit from knowing how to manage the media in which they work, their artistic vision doesn't come into being through the manipulation of material forms or objects. It is a reflection of the spiritual vision that comes to us from God. Such vision lies beyond the mere learning of processes; it includes learning more of our relationship to God, the true source of the creativity we express.

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We don't learn of God, Truth, however, by plugging quantities into formulas, repeating the ``right words,'' or simply following a ritual. Equipment doesn't help, nor does any new and improved set of procedures. Christ Jesus said in the Bible, in John's Gospel: ``God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.''

How do we worship God in spirit? Through deep sincerity of motive and dedication--a desire to do good --because God is good and we know that our goodness in aim and practice contributes to harmony for everyone. This kind of worship often includes sacrificing personal desires when we see that this self-immolation will further the cause of goodness.

Even the finest of prayers, the Lord's Prayer, is made valuable to us not by repetition but by the sincere thought we give to it. Our whole desire and motivation must be actively engaged; our real aims, our deepest faith and understanding, our most lucid profundity, must be part and parcel of our praying. This undergirding of our prayer with total commitment to its truth enables us to worship ``in spirit.''

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``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.''

Here is a key to understanding the concept of worshiping in spirit. To worship in this way is to wholly turn every situation over to God in our thought. It lets God's infinitely loving and effective nature take charge of our direction. This surely brings a wisdom into our experience that is beyond human wisdom. In fact it introduces us, and reintroduces us, to our true nature as God's spiritual reflection, expressing the qualities of God, our Maker, and dropping human concerns and methods.

When we find that we are praying about a problem with no results, could it be that we are ``using'' prayer as a technique? But when we are alerted to the need to pray ``in spirit, when we are finally awakened to the need for real consecration, we can truly pray and find the regeneration we need. Then, quickly or slowly, the difficulty vanishes in the clarity and harmony that divine Love, God, provides.

Even the best ``technique'' is limited in its effectiveness and can even be counterproductive. Worshiping in spirit, however, gives us the what and why of our spiritual being and lies at the elemental level of spiritual devotion that regenerates. This is really a matter of dedicated lives. And the rewards come in uplifted experience and God-nurtured spiritual fruitfulness.

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