Love and unselfishness needed for true prayer


POSTED: Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who among us has not explored the possibilities of prayer? We hear from some it can't do any harm, it might do some good. Others pray out of a sense of obligation or fear. Many find prayer helpful and make it an important part of their lives. Some find themselves praying as they go about their day, “;Shepherd, show me how to go. What do I say? What is your will here?”; Sincere prayer cultivates spiritual receptivity, the good soil where the seeds of truth are sown and bear fruit.

Jesus prayed alone and apart and then habitually walked and talked with God, exhibiting God's words, God's will, in all that he said and did. Prayer, inspired by holy, pure, seeking-and-finding motives, is beneficial and can include physical healings and wondrous works as its results.

The Lord's Prayer is a model for what prayer is. It's complete in its application to any human need, but it's not all Jesus had to say about prayer. He also told us what prayer is not. Jesus knew prayer cannot be answered, cannot really be prayer, when evil is in the heart, when revenge is nurtured rather than blessing for foe and friend alike, when intentionally living in disobedience to God's commands, when insincere. Such play actors, he said, were getting the earthly reward they sought but were not drawing closer to God, were not being blessed spiritually, and could not really bless others through prayer no matter how beautiful their words.

In her book “;Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,”; Mary Baker Eddy brings out and explains Jesus' teachings on prayer, including what it cannot possibly be when the heart is not in sync with God's demand for love, truth, kindness and unselfishness. She wrote, “;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.”;

One experience I had of effective prayer involved a severely injured, probably broken, ankle. I diligently turned to God for assurance of how he/she created me and if she'd maintained me still in her image and likeness, spiritual and perfect. While praying about a week along these lines, I gained a realization that there could never be a lapse in my relationship with God or from the harmony God bestows.

Suddenly one morning, a remarkable thing took place. In the twinkling of an eye, three thoughts came to me in rapid succession: If I believe my ankle is out of whack, then I must believe that something in the infinity of spirit is out of whack. I spontaneously and firmly replied, “;I don't believe this.”; Then, I thought, what God hath joined together, man cannot rend asunder. I totally agreed and understood this was truth.

Then I heard and joined in singing, “;The toe bone connected to the foot bone, the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the leg bone, Oh hear the word of the Lord!”; I laughed in joyous agreement: What wit! How true! How permanent these connections!

With that, there was a loud snap in my ankle. It was healed. I could walk. Like the man Peter and John healed at the temple gate called Beautiful, I went off walking and leaping and praising God. If I can do this, anyone can, and we can attest together this Christly fact, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Elise Moore, an international speaker on such topics, will discuss “;The Possibilities of Prayer”; at 4 p.m. today in a free talk sponsored by First Church of Christ, Scientist, at 1508 Punahou St.

Virginia Aycock is second reader at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Honolulu.