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Hearts open to God

When I was younger, I used to think that if I was truly reverent, the Bible’s instruction to “pray without ceasing” meant that I should be repeating some prayer all day long. As you can imagine, I was relieved to learn that this wasn’t the case—there’s a lot more to prayer than just saying (or thinking) the right words. Prayer, I’ve found, happens when we allow our hearts to be open to God.

In high school, I learned that prayer doesn’t originate in your head. Whether I was challenged by an academic assignment or feeling troubled by sickness, I exercised this idea of turning to God for help and healing. The more I practiced this, the more I learned that prayer isn’t like choosing a mantra. Instead, prayer is a spiritual listening. I’ve always loved this passage from the Bible: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

As time passed, concerns about school and getting into college abated, when I began to enjoy the ways in which God was already caring for me and everyone. I realized that my humble desire to express purity, wholeness, to trust good, and to live my life in harmony with the rest of God’s creation, was a kind of prayer in itself.

There were moments and times when my best plans and prayers didn’t seem like enough. But as I relied on God for inspiration, I saw how it wasn’t about mentally plodding along, “praying my way” to a certain place or goal. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy described this idea of prayer that exceeds human words and logic: “Audible prayer can never do the works of spiritual understanding, which regenerates; but silent prayer, watchfulness, and devout obedience enable us to follow Jesus’ example.” Healing and regeneration occurred when I’d catch the spirit and joy of prayer. This kind of prayer without ceasing was not laborious, but restful.

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