Science and Health
with Key to The Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy
Chapter I - Prayer


Right motives
What are the motives for prayer? Do we pray to
make ourselves better or to benefit those who hear us,
to enlighten the infinite or to be heard of
men? Are we benefited by praying? Yes,
the desire which goes forth hungering after righteous-
ness is blessed of our Father, and it does not return
unto us void.
Deity unchangeable
God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more
than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less
than bestow all good, since He is unchang-
ing wisdom and Love. We can do more for
ourselves by humble fervent petitions, but the All-lov-
ing does not grant them simply on the ground of lip-
service, for He already knows all.
Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it
tends to bring us into harmony with it. Goodness at-
tains the demonstration of Truth. A request that
God will save us is not all that is required. The mere
habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads
with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as
humanly circumscribed, – an error which impedes spirit-
ual growth.
God's standard
God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is
intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of any-
thing He does not already comprehend?
Do we expect to change perfection? Shall
we plead for more at the open fount, which is pour-
ing forth more than we accept? The unspoken desire
does bring us nearer the source of all existence and
Asking God to be God is a vain repetition. God is
"the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;" and
He who is immutably right will do right without being
reminded of His province. The wisdom of man is not
sufficient to warrant him in advising God.
The spiritual mathematics
Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the
principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The
rule is already established, and it is our
task to work out the solution. Shall we
ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own
work? His work is done, and we have only to avail
ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His bless-
ing, which enables us to work out our own salvation.
The Divine Being must be reflected by man, – else
man is not the image and likeness of the patient,
tender, and true, the One "altogether lovely;" but to
understand God is the work of eternity, and demands
absolute consecration of thought, energy, and desire.
Prayerful ingratitude
How empty are our conceptions of Deity! We admit
theoretically that God is good, omnipotent, omni-
present, infinite, and then we try to give
information to this infinite Mind. We plead
for unmerited pardon and for a liberal outpouring of
benefactions. Are we really grateful for the good
already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the
blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.
Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of
thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.
If we are ungrateful for Life, Truth, and Love, and
yet return thanks to God for all blessings, we are in-
sincere and incur the sharp censure our Master pro-
nounces on hypocrites. In such a case, the only
acceptable prayer is to put the finger on the lips and
remember our blessings. While the heart is far from
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