Well, I don’t remember when it was, but it was years ago, that a friend and I discussed page no. 1 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. As much as the whole book is an astonishing book with endless depths, already its first chapter engages the reader completely by meeting us where we are and not where we would like to be. “Prayer” takes up thoughts and doubts and encourages us to think. We discussed the minutiae of the text and took apart the sentences trying to reach below the surface of words to the depths of meaning. The second paragraph shares this observation: “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.” (p.1) It struck us that we both had mechanically read the first phrase like “Spiritual desire is prayer” or “The desire to be a better man is prayer” or something like this. But this is not, what is written there.
I started to wonder and reconsider this phrase often, and I continue to give it ample thought. At times I wondered whether not only “desire is prayer”, but also “prayer is desire”, which sheds a completely sparkling and colorful light on the topic. My experience tells me that “prayer is desire”, yes. Prayer then is “thoughtful wishing”, our humble longing to bring our desires and wishes in front of God, good, and leaving them there. God “heareth the prayer of the righteous”, we read in Proverbs (15: 29), and I gain from this Bible verse that already righteousness in itself is a prayer, a constant prayer of uprightness and integrity. As if to say: We don’t need to travel far in order to find that we are already praying when we strive for good as opposed to seeing prayer as an activity that is closer to wishful thinking than to actual Christian practice.
In the chapter “prayer” of Science and Health Mary Baker Eddy uses the term “desire” 17 times. “Desire” is one of the synonyms of wish. A yearning, a strong passion, a mental dynamism, trying to move out to a different realm. Other terms for this noun are: longing, hunger, fervor, inclination, moving devotion, hope. Especially this last one is interesting, because hope includes a germ of fulfillment. Hope anchors in fulfillment. Hope is halfway to fulfillment. Why are sometimes the hottest wishes and desires not answered? Mary Baker Eddy answers this question: “Experience teaches us that we do not always receive the blessings we ask for in prayer. There is some misapprehension of the source and means of all goodness and blessedness, or we should certainly receive that for which we ask.” (p. 10) That is a great promise based on Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery that indeed God is all-in-all.
“Desire is prayer”: this means for me, that whatever desire seems to rule us at this moment, there is a movement of thought already prevalent, you might say an undercurrent in your thinking - and there is an openness to good existent. The spiritual fact that desire is prayer is a remarkably freeing option in overcoming addiction, because the despair in getting rid of something can be turned into the realization of prayer already present right within us. Certainly: We need to lose what we don’t need, but this losing happens naturally as we perceive that underneath the misinterpreted desire for fulfillment – expressed in addiction or wishful thinking for something we think we need, but don’t have – is the Christ at work, supporting our yearning to bow only to good. We can relax in the thought that any desire is our true yearning to feel the closeness to God, good. And God will show us what that means.
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In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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