Approaching a cherry grower, I start to deal with her. Yes, she will take some of my apples for her cherries. What a nice trade.
Trading things is fairly common. But there are times when no deal can be made. Do you ever think God has something you want and try to trade with Him? Does God make deals like that? No, but for a very good reason: we already have all that God provides.
God created a universe without haggling. His creating was done right. God knew exactly what He wanted and made no deals to accomplish it, because there is no other Mind but God. He has bestowed perpetual good on us, obviating the need or the desire to trade with Him.
The Bible never shows Christ Jesus trying to make deals with God. Jesus knew that God is our source. He understood this so well that his understanding actually brought out good in others, and they began living better lives.
There was a time, though, when Jesus had been fasting and praying for many days (see Matthew 4:1-11). Hunger tempted him to make bread out of stones. Pride urged him to hurt himself and dare God to heal him. Vain thoughts invited Jesus to strive for status, material gain, and physical comfort. You might say Jesus was tempted to bargain with God for a better deal. But he knew that to admit that God had done less than a perfect job at creation was not legitimate.
Jesus knew God alone maintains our satisfaction, soundness, and comfort. Turning from limitations and temptations, Jesus felt the angels of good thoughts bless him. His prayer, his conviction of God's infinitude, was followed by the disappearance of the desire to indulge in personal pride and doubt of God.
God's work is good. We have from Him good qualities to express-contentment, charity, constructive activity. This expression is our identity. Lack, stinginess, and greed cannot be known to God, and what He doesn't know has no existence.
James repeated in the Bible what Jesus had taught-that prayer cannot be a negotiation with God. Prayer must be an acknowledgment that God's perfect creation is here and now. The book of James observes, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (4:3). Praying to God for mere human gain is disagreeable and sometimes grueling.
I found out. One night I had a headache that was getting progressively worse. I wanted just to sleep. I couldn't even lie down and I felt nauseated. At first I said, "God, if you take this away and give me sleep, I will try to be better." But no deal could be made here, and it wasn't because God would ever deny me sublime rest. It was because I wasn't listening to God.
A god that would analyze our requests and grant them according to mood or whim cannot exist. God is All, ever alive, and entirely good. We are, in our true nature, His likeness. I was feeling disgust and trying to justify my need for sleep. But I realized I couldn't let self-justification and illness define my prayer. From studying Christian Science, the Science of what Jesus preached, I had learned that God doesn't evaluate prayer. True prayer isn't a deal, but a powerful understanding that the will of God is always good.
The Christian Science textbook by Mary Baker Eddy asks: "Does Deity interpose in behalf of one worshipper, and not help another who offers the same measure of prayer? . . . In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as 'a very present help in trouble.' Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 12-13).
This truth that God gives only boundless love became alive in my thought. At this point I was impelled to quit thinking about myself and pray for others. It was a relief for me to appreciate the fact that no child of God can be attacked with pain, doubt, or fear. There is never a legitimate exchange of pain for peace. Suffering is not sent by God. That illness ended just minutes after my sincere acknowledgment of God's goodness, and I did sleep peacefully.
No deal needs to be made for us to forgive others, pray for the world, and make peace. God answers our prayer for healing without exception.