Excerpt from the Abridged version of the chapter Prayer from the book, 21st Century Science and Health
A twisted prayer comes from the human mind that is so tightly wrapped up in defending outgrown knowledge that it can’t breathe an ounce of progressive knowledge. Their actions do not meet the needs of the people today and their arguments have no credibility.
Prayer becomes dangerous when its used to gratify the senses and emotions. The regurgitation of heady words is barren. Be very sharp when praying or being prayed for because you do not want to get entangled with the deceptive prayer, disguised under good-intentions. We read in Matthew, “Woe to you, teachers of the law…you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matt. 23:27) Fortunately, God is not influenced by the self-satisfied or fervent sentiments of a showy numbing prayer.
We can feel the aspiration, humility, gratitude, and love which our words express, and God accepts this. We can get our act together and help our self. We can welcome new knowledge and apply it in our prayers. We don’t need to be afraid of the deceptive prayer and we certainly don’t need to waste a lot of time confessing our backward thinking. God knows where we screwed up. We read in Matthew, “For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Matt. 10:26)
We can examine ourselves and learn our intent and our attitude. If we fail at the examination, usually our friends or a child can detect the self-sabotaging attitude. If you are both honest, the friend will tell you what needs improvement and you will improve. But, if the attitudes and information are slogged in stubbornness, the exchange turns into a melee of unwarranted criticism, doing no one any good.
In divine Science, you can test your prayer. Ask: Do I pray a lovely prayer and yet return to my old habits? Do I give evidence of what I am praying for? Do I show any sign of loving my enemies? It is ridiculous to congratulate yourself for repeating the same old pattern of loving those who love you or for suffering because of your own lack of doing what is promising to humanity. We’ve been told, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind.” (Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, Duet. 6:5)
You may hear that prayer involves taking up the cross, well, don’t mistake this for meaning suffering is God’s will. God’s will is good. If you are willing to follow Christ Jesus example, you will be expected to sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice of temporal things including hate, sickness, creeds and rituals—conditions we really can live without. Prayer is the constant desire to do right but that right will shift in the eyes of human beings because doing right is doing the will of God. As you and the world grow in the spiritual understanding of prayer, God will sustain us while we give up the temporal vain things and learn to trust the eternal.
The world’s people have many forms of prayer. Don’t knock them. Experience teaches us that there is room for improvement in all forms of prayer. We do not always receive what we ask for because we have yet fully to understand the source and means of all goodness and blessedness. Immature prayers is nothing new, we read in James, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)