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Prayer – beyond the words

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

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There are so many reasons to pray – someone we love is in trouble, or we need guidance or comfort or inspiration. But at one time, I realized that there is a reason that goes deeper than all of these, deeper even than the essential need for God. We pray because God Himself causes us to pray. God is behind every right thought and action, and prayer is a very right thing to do.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote, "It is the love of God, and not the fear of evil, that is the incentive in Science" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 279). She also wrote, "The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 284). So every thought, every prayer, actually begins with God, originates in Him, the divine Mind.

One time, I was praying to free my young daughter from a potentially threatening situation. I began with the Lord's Prayer (see Matt. 6:9-13). Its words are so familiar to me that as I prayed them, it seemed that I was merely repeating words by rote. How could this help? I knew praying them was better than not praying them, but I needed to go deeper.

Since those words constitute the prayer Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him how to pray, I bent lower, so to speak, in humility, to let the prayer teach me. I discarded the suggestion that these were just words in favor of hearing the message and meaning. I didn't stop praying the words; I let them move me to the ideas behind them. In the first chapter of Science and Health, that prayer is accompanied by the author's spiritual sense of it:

Our Father which art in heaven,

Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,

Hallowed be Thy name.

Adorable One.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.

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