Effectual prayer requires sincerity Billy Graham biopic may find its audience on DVD
By Virginia Aycock
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, some one hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Jesus prayed alone and apart and then went about walking and talking with God — exhibiting to others God's words and God's will in all that he said and did. Prayer, inspired by holy, pure, seeking-and-finding motives, is beneficial and can, should, 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 friend and foe alike, when intentionally living in disobedience to God's commands, when insincere. Play actors, who made a public display of prayer, would get the earthly rewards they sought but were not drawing closer to God spiritually and would not reap a heavenly reward.
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy explains Jesus' teachings on prayer — including that words alone are not really prayer when the heart is not in sync with God's demand for love, gratitude and unselfishness in the heart.
She reveals how much store she set on prayer in this line from her book: "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."
Eddy spoke from experience. Many who have studied her book and the Scriptures in search of spiritual understanding that heals share wonderful experiences as a result. One example I had of effectual prayer involved an injured ankle: I heard a loud snap as I fell. Then, I quickly turned to God to seek assurance that He/She created me and would maintain me still in Her image and likeness — spiritual (the likeness of Spirit must be spiritual) and perfect (Christ Jesus says since our Father is perfect, so must be His children).
During the week that followed, I gained more ground in the conviction that all that God made must remain intact, including myself; that there could never be any lapse in my relationship with God, nor from the harmony God bestows.
Finally, one morning these three ideas came to me in rapid succession: If I believe my ankle is out of whack, then I must believe that something in the infinitude of Spirit is out of whack. I firmly replied: "I don't believe that!" Then came, What God hath joined together, man cannot rend asunder. I agreed. Then an old song began: "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! With that, there was a loud snap in my ankle. It was healed. I could walk.
And like the man Peter and John healed at the temple gate called "Beautiful," I went off walking and leaping and praising God. If this can happen to me through prayer, it can happen to anyone. Then, let us attest together the Christly fact, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.