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You can almost picture the wide-eyed, inquisitive five-year-old carefully taking hold of the pocket compass that his father had brought to his bedside for him to see.
What impressed the boy most about the compass was not that the needle pointed in the same direction regardless of which way he turned the case; rather it was that whatever was acting on the needle was something outside the case, something in space, “the space that had always been considered empty.”
From this account of young Albert Einstein’s first encounter with the effect of the North Pole, we get a peek into the early life of a great discoverer, someone who looked at an ordinary compass—even ordinary time and space—and discovered something extraordinary.
One evening, after I’d watched a couple of news programs, I was struck by what I felt was an urgent need for more extraordinary discoveries. In this case, spiritual ones. Thinking back on the kinds of problems faced by society ten, maybe twenty, years ago, though they may have seemed quite difficult at the time, I don’t recall thinking they seemed unsolvable. With this recent round of news I was beginning to feel that had changed. The message coming across was one of hopelessness. The problems had become too big, too complex. Praying never seemed more appropriate.
Over the ages people have triumphed over what seemed like unsolvable problems and that triumph was accomplished through the change of consciousness that comes as a result of prayer. Extraordinary things about God and His creation were glimpsed even when the outlook at the time seemed so vulnerable, so helpless, so cut off from God, good.
The objective of prayer, as Jesus taught, is not to reassemble or preserve crumbling, materialistic systems, or that our natural habitat is a world of chance and potential loss. We’re not turning to some kind of repair or rescue service; rather we’re praying to discern something of the actual, spiritual nature of creation and the laws of God that are in operation now, and that underlie and maintain all harmony. Science and Health points out: “Science reveals the possibility of achieving all good, and sets mortals at work to discover what God has already done; but distrust of one’s ability to gain the goodness desired and to bring out better and higher results, often hampers the trial of one’s wings and ensures failure at the outset.”
Sometimes when we turn to prayer, fear of failure would try to weigh us down before we get started. This downward drag is animal magnetism, the deception of narrow and materialistic thinking, opposed to the natural freedom inherent in spiritual-mindedness.
From the outset, mortal mind would try to bury every budding hope and noble effort with the repeated suggestion that nothing can be done, that there are no answers. The underlying assumption that a mortal, human mind determines our capacity to discern the infinite goodness of God is a fundamental error itself, a hopeless beginning.
The outlook brightens when our starting point for prayer changes; when we seek the actual status of man through a correct understanding of man’s Maker. While mortal mind would, at best, only imagine man to be spiritual and completely cared for by wisdom and Love, our God-given spiritual sense bears witness to nothing less than Mind’s perfectly governed universe.
God’s man is not ever at a distance from good, left alone to contend with a world of good and evil. Such a flawed concept of man’s relation to God—an arrangement whereby God exists and operates in a universe somewhere apart from His offspring—would put time and space between man and the source of intelligence. The bleak assumption that we’re far removed from the clear direction and unfailing government of the creator of the universe should be reexamined in a more spiritual and scientific way.
Christianly scientific prayer annuls the disheartening claims of mortal mind and enables us to see more of the soundness and goodness of divine Mind.
As Mind’s idea, man can’t be outside of God’s awareness or His embrace. Prayer can restore the wonderful sense of closeness to our Father-Mother, of being held and completely cared for at every step. That’s not to say that difficult issues won’t ever try to demand our attention and, occasionally, appear to reach out-of-control proportions. But in such situations we shouldn’t lose sight of man’s unity with the source of all intelligence, all goodness and harmony. Guarding our thought and being strengthened by this understanding, we won’t be stymied by difficult issues and feel that we might as well abandon hope and prepare for defeat.
If mortal mind hammers us with reports that we don’t have the resources to do what needs to be done, sincere and consistent prayer silences those suggestions and turns our thought to the assurance and might of Christ, the divine message to man of “what God has already done.” What He has done and what is spiritually discoverable, was once described in the Bible as “a new heaven and a new earth,” free from any sorrow, pain, or death. Glimpsing this reality we find man’s being, our true identity, to be wholly intact.
Holding to what CS teaches of God’s unalterable, undisturbed universe, including man, provides the basis of hope, and our reason for standing up to hopelessness as undeserved and illegitimate.
The time must come when a mortal, material sense of being is reckoned to be entirely false. But the transition from this false sense of existence to a perception of the truth of being isn’t burdensome or discouraging. Quite the contrary, it’s filled with hope and accomplishment.
Prayer is extraordinary. Even if we think our prayers are moving us too slowly in the right direction, the fact is we are making this transition, as we must, with every honest prayer. And God is caring for us with the answers we need each step of the way.