God already knows what you need. Useful prayer is not about telling God what you need. I do not believe God is influenced by us, so I know begging doesn’t do any good. It only makes us feel more desperate and unheard.
Consider what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matthew 6:7 KJV) Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (page 7) brilliantly says, “The ‘divine ear’ is not an auditory nerve.” Further she says, “If we are not secretly yearning and openly striving for the accomplishment of all we ask, our prayers are “vain repetitions,” such as the heathen use. If our petitions are sincere, we labor for what we ask; and our Father, who seeth in secret, will reward us openly.” (page 13)
God already knows everything, is imbued already throughout everything, is already with us, already providing for us, in every way we need, so why do we think we need to get there by a plethora of requests and imploring? God already knows the earnest desires of your heart, and even unspoken, they are more than enough in the realm of petitionary prayer.
I have learned that prayer is more for us than for marshaling God to action. Prayer is about aligning ourselves with God. Whenever I find myself asking God for something, I’ve learned instead to contemplate the spiritual laws that apply to the situation, and remind myself of God’s wisdom, larger view, and all-powerful, attentive nature. This clarifies that God is an ever-present, benevolent, reliable ally, which reassures me as I go forward.
Divine laws and the divine nature are an unchanging rock upon which to build my life, days, and moments. When I’m not feeling needy, my prayer focuses on God’s multitude of wonderful attributes, all of which I also have as well, since I am made as God’s “image and likeness,” as the first chapter in Genesis in the Bible clearly states. So by reviewing God’s attributes, I remind myself how I too should act and behave. Dwelling and marinating in a meditation of God’s infinitely good nature is my favorite form of prayer, and I always come away from that uplifted and resolved, as well as realizing some ways I can emulate that better.
So instead of asking God for what you need, try deeply asking yourself what is God like. What is God’s nature? What qualities does God express? Expand and purify your concept of yourself as the reflection of that. Put those qualities into action by expressing them in your present situation. Finding ways to manifest more of your own God-likeness, and having your deeds live up to your status as God’s offspring, is the most efficacious form of prayer. Not only do you then honor God with your attention, but you become more of who God made you to be, which avoids all sorts of problems, and is a blessing to everyone.
But what about when you are feeling needy, like in those moments when you’re tempted to resort to sniveling petition? That’s when I start reviewing spiritual laws that apply to whatever I am finding challenging.
We count on the law of gravity to operate, but spiritual laws are even more certain of their direct outcome. Whatever you are dealing with, there is an arsenal of spiritual laws that can completely take care of it. Seeking them out, acknowledging them, and owning that they are completely in operation now and always, will not only feel better than pleading to God, but actually positively effects the situation itself.
What are some examples of spiritual laws? Wow, that could be a really long blog post on its own. Here are a few off the top of my head at the moment:
- What’s true in the kingdom of heaven is true right here and right now and always.
- “All things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
- God governs the combinations of ideas.
- Ultimately, there is no pain in Truth, so there is no truth in pain.
- “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)
- I am (they are) an infinite idea forever developing and rising higher.
- “Progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.” (SH 233)
- “Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.” (SH 571)
- Your thought can be expanded to include more good.
- “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)
- Perpetual harmony is a rule, and regardless of what it may seem like, there has never been a lapse from nor a return to it, because divine order indeed prevails.
- Life conquers death; Truth corrects lies; good vanquishes evil; Love obliterates hate; Spirit is in control not matter; thought defeats thoughtlessness, etc. The opposite of error is always true.
- We are sheltered and safe under God’s wing.
- No one is ever separated from God, or unreachable by God.
- God is speaking to each of us in a way that we can hear, understand, and put into practice.
- Accidents are totally impossible to God.
- God is the only one cause and creator.
- “The only power of evil is to destroy itself. It can never destroy one iota of good.” (SH 186)
- “The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible.” (SH 199)
- “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” (SH 494)
- Only good is going on, because God is good– infinite, ever present, and all-powerful.
- God’s offspring are always healthy, kind, intelligent, and loving; they have no mind of their own that can make it otherwise.
- God is at work right now in your/their human consciousness.
- There is not a spot where God it not.
- God guides, guards, and governs me (them). God brings grace, glory, and goodwill.
Thus we see that prayer is about bringing us back to understanding God’s capable supremacy, and to thinking and acting more like God does. It is never that God left, got distracted, or was too busy attending to others elsewhere, neglecting working on your stuff, and needing to be prodded back into action. God’s nature and spiritual laws were always there and in operation. In the same proportion that we bear witness to these spiritual laws, we experience them functioning.
I had a spiritual teacher in the ’80’s that used to ask us to listen to all the music in the room. We heard nothing. Then he turned the radio on, and scanned the dial. All that music was already on the radio waves in the room, but we were just unaware of it. He likened prayer to the turning on of the radio. It’s for us, not for God. Asking for there to be music in the room does not help. Tuning into what is already there is much more successful in getting the results you are after.
So I encourage you not to solicit God’s help but to claim it as a present, active, and powerful force. Focus on God’s nature, a well as showing forth those qualities and attributes in yourself and noticing them in others. Also find and acknowledge some of God’s spiritual laws that apply in your situation and persevere by clinging steadfastly to them, with trust, positive expectation, and confidence. This is prayer that will get results.