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Why pray?

A Christian Science perspective: Prayer is a desire to know good, another name for God.

If life had nothing more to offer than a random mix of good and bad, health and sickness, life and death, it would seem futile to pray.

But what if life is more than what it appears to be on the surface? What if goodness is the reality of life, and what if evil can be proved to be powerless over us? This would certainly give us hope and a positive basis for our prayers.

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In the Bible, God is shown to be omnipotent good, time and again. When Moses and the children of Israel were trapped at the Red Sea, Moses prayed, reaching out to God for help, with the conviction of God’s present goodness, and the people were delivered. Then in the New Testament of the Bible, we find that Jesus and his disciples, through their prayers, relying on the goodness and power of God, were able to heal the sick and raise the dead.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper and an ardent student of the Bible, makes this observation: “In the Saxon and twenty other tongues good is the term for God. The Scriptures declare all that He made to be good, like Himself, – good in Principle and in idea” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 286).

When Mrs. Eddy was at the point of death, she turned to the Bible. Her desire to know more about God – her prayer – led to her healing. After being healed, she devoted the rest of her life to understanding the all-powerful goodness of God and found that the Christ-healing that Jesus demonstrated was still in operation and could still be proved today. She named her discovery “Christian Science.”

In its simplest form, couldn’t we define prayer as a desire to become more conscious of the almighty power of God’s goodness? Understanding that God is all good and is the only power makes it evident that anything claiming to oppose God has no real authority in our lives, and can be proved powerless. As we thank God for the power of His goodness and love for all, we will see that becoming more conscious of God’s goodness brings healing results. I have seen its healing effect in my own experience.

Some years ago, my career suffered a catastrophic setback when lies were spread about me. During this time, I became very ill. The better part of a week passed, and the severity of the symptoms left me unable to get out of bed. I turned to prayer and so did my family and a friend of ours. I affirmed the unfailing power of goodness to uphold my health and maintain harmony in my life.

Holding on to this spiritual truth allowed me to listen for inspiration from God. As I listened in prayer, this healing thought came to mind: Even though the unethical behavior of others had irreversibly changed the direction of my career, it had not stopped the unfolding of God’s goodness in my life. I knew nothing could interrupt God’s loving care for His creation. Once I realized this, though I still had no idea what the future might bring, I felt confident that the power of God’s goodness would reestablish my career on a sound basis. After this realization, the illness immediately began to dissipate. I was able to get out of bed, and, in a short time, I returned to a normal activity level.

In the midst of these trying times, a friend had shared this rendering of a Bible verse with me: “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction” (Psalms 23:3, The Message). The King James Version brings out the spiritual sense of this passage: “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Once I understood that evil had no place in God’s government and therefore could never stop the activity of goodness, I saw the truth of this promise appear in my life. Following the physical healing, my career took a new direction that was far better than I could have ever imagined.

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Understanding that the goodness of God is the only power has brought good into my life. Prayer that attests to this one and only power is effective. It heals us, expands the depth of the good we can do, and reaches others in need. With results like these, why not pray?