My big fear was that someone would ask me what I would do if my daughter broke her leg.
I didn't know what I would do! It had never happened! My first response to most emergencies is prayer - prayer that leads to quick healing or that leads to appropriate care that supports the healing. But I didn't have much confidence in my responses to the "What if" questions.
One day, a friend and neighbor asked what I would do if my daughter dislocated her leg. And you know what? I had the answer. My daughter had dislocated her leg once. But before I could answer, the neighbor described a sad situation involving a friend's child. She had dislocated her leg and was taken to the emergency room. The leg was manipulated incorrectly and had to be dislocated twice again before finally being properly adjusted. It was a sad and frightening situation for all concerned.
So when my neighbor asked me what I would do as a Christian Scientist, she sincerely wanted to know if there was another way to approach such situations. I told her how I had prayed, and how that within minutes my daughter heard a pop as her leg adjusted to its proper position without any physical manipulation at all.
Last week’s blog post on the role of faith in healing – “Faith: The winning evidence in health trials” (February 22, 2012), brought out the difference between faith as human belief and faith anchored in substantial and evidential proof of Spirit as all and matter as nothing. The apostle Paul unraveled the mystery of faith by identifying it as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
In the comments section, blog reader Kim noted these ideas in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health that she was reading with new eyes. "Faith is higher and more spiritual than belief. It is a chrysalis state of human thought, in which spiritual evidence, contradicting the testimony of material sense, begins to appear, and Truth, the ever-present, is becoming understood… Until belief becomes faith, and faith becomes spiritual understanding, human thought has little relation to the actual or divine." (p. 297)
As I was reading the Bible this week, I was struck by a certain passage found in Jeremiah 8:32, which reads, "Is there no balm in Gilead ; is there no physician there? why then is the health of the daughter of my people not recovered?"
I learned that asking "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?" is like asking "Is there no oil in Saudi Arabia ? Are there no oil companies there?" These are facetious questions. Of course there is oil in Saudi Arabia. Of course there are oil companies, drawing out, barreling and selling oil!
Gilead was a distribution center to the reachable world for ‘balm’ – an ointment made of resin from evergreen trees native to western Africa and Asia. There was always balm in Gilead. And Gilead was full of physicians who practiced their trade by distributing the balm to those in need.
Who hasn’t heard this? Play by the rules in sports and you’ll play fair. Play by the rules of the road and you’ll be safe. Play by the house rules and you won’t get in trouble!
During a lecture tour to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia and New Zealand, I learned how important it is to play by the rules of my church. I was thrilled to take this tour. I’d always wanted to visit these countries and now I would have the opportunity to share with others the subject dearest to my heart – Christian Science. I felt really prepared and things were going along just fine as I went from city to city. People were really interested and glad to have an opportunity to have their questions answered. Some misunderstandings came to light and were corrected.
I was feeling pretty good about everything except for one thing. Many of my hosts would invite me for refreshments and mingling after the lectures concluded. As kind as they were to want to offer a reception for me in appreciation for my coming so far, I really felt compelled to go back to my hotel and be quiet, to ponder the ideas shared in the lecture and to pray for all those who came. But I didn’t feel comfortable excusing myself from the company of my hosts. So I stayed for the social part of the events.
How do you see this picture? Do you see an aggressor preparing to attack and victims fleeing in fear? Or do you see the graceful movement of three dancers?
How we perceive earth, and those that people it, influences how we pray and often what we pray for. A positive worldview feeds prayer with a healthy, progressive expectation of good. Whereas, a negative worldview can tend to leave one feeling cornered by problems and can sink prayer in a sea of hopelessness.
The truism, "One rotten apple spoils the barrel," is a good reminder to watch the influences you let in. But I think that, as it it relates to prayer, the apple or influence that we need to be most concerned with is our own! I remember a friend sharing her take on apple theory. She said, "You can't be a good apple in a barrel of rotten apples!" This always reminds me that if I see myself as an isolated island of good in an evil world, I am sunk - and so are my prayers.
I had a hot-wire moment yesterday, where Wire A met Wire B and then buzz... ZAP! I had inspiration-ignition. There is a certain Bible passage that has bugged me forever. The apostle Paul wrote, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I mean… HUH?
Faith is a word that has often troubled me. Perhaps it is because I have had it tossed at me as a descriptor for what I do. As a Christian Science practitioner, I pray for people. What I do is the equivalent of walking into dark rooms and flipping on light switches. I don’t create light. The source is there. I just help people experience it.
A friend from the Midwest offered to come to New Jersey. Her sole purpose was to teach my toddler to eat by herself when she heard I wouldn't let go of control of the spoon. I wanted to keep the cleanup to a minimum, you see. But I soon would learn that some messes wouldn't be so easy to avoid.
After putting child safety locks on all the kitchen cabinets, I was a bit too trustful. I noticed a white cloud poofing its way through the kitchen door. The cabinets could still open just wide enough for a chubby baby arm to be inserted directly into an open bag of flour. Fistfuls of the delightful white stuff were being tossed skyward. Our future baker was at work.
Feeling cornered? Is the enemy advancing? Is doubt or fear niggling at you, wearing away your confidence in being healthy again?
Take a lesson from Isaiah's playbook. Called by Hezekiah when an enemy army was advancing with intent to decimate a city, Isaiah prayed a prayer so significant, so powerful, that it merited two accounts in separate books of the Bible - II Kings and Isaiah - and with results so effective that they received a third mention in II Chronicles, chapter 32. Prayer stopped the deadly enemy cold.
At the crescendo of Isaiah's prayer was this thundering finale:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria,
He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there,
nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
By the way that he came, by the same shall he return,
and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake."
(II Kings 19:32-34, Isaiah 37:33-35)
Perhaps because I have myself experienced loss, these poetic words of Mary Baker Eddy have a special place in my heart: "The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.57)
Eddy includes in her Miscellaneous Writings what seems to me to be a companion piece to that passage, giving an explanation of the new growth and spiritual awakening that often follows particularly difficult life experiences.
One time years ago I was laid up in bed with back pain. I was home alone and really needed to get up. With no one to help me, there was just one thing to do. I rolled out of bed and began to crawl across the bedroom floor. As I did, I thought, This is really dumb. If Jesus were here, he’d heal me. He would say "Get up and walk!" and I would be able to.
Sometime before, when I was first learning about spiritual healing, I read in an article, “There is no real healing without the Christ.” I thought, Wow. I need to look into this. So I talked to a friend - a Christian Scientist - about it, and he told me to always think of the Christ as God’s activity. That explanation led me to my next question: What is God’s activity?
Why do you want to pray today? Have you asked yourself? What is it that is motivating you today to talk with God? It is not an insignificant question. It's also not a trick question. In order to find your prayer MOJO - that is, in order to feel confidence and real connection in your prayers - an honest examination of where you are coming from can make a difference. If you don't know where you are, how will you ever get to where you want or need to go? Honesty in prayer and candidness about our motives can make the difference between merely staying on the surface of prayer and having a real conversation with God that engages the heart. So, pause. Ask yourself, "Why do I want to pray today?" (Go ahead. Do it before reading on. I'll wait.)
On Wednesdays throughout the world, people gather in churches and in groups to share what they have seen and experienced of God's, Truth's, healing power. You hear some pretty amazing things at a Wednesday evening testimony meeting in a Christian Science church. It's not who is speaking or even how the story is told that makes this sharing so special. One feels the power and presence and love of God, through Christ, that heals. In the Church Manual, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "More than a mere rehearsal of blessings, it scales the pinnacle of praise and illustrates the demonstration of Christ, "who healeth all thy diseases" (Psalm 103:3)." Here is my testimony.
In 2001 I began exhibiting symptoms of breast cancer. My mother had a mastectomy a few years earlier. My aunt also had a mastectomy, but she passed away from the disease. I had a young daughter. I had no intention of going anywhere, nor did I wish to see her become a victim of this disease. So when I began developing symptoms, I felt I had no choice but to stop this epidemic of fear and disease in the family.
We were in the car, my 12 year old and I. She had just finished telling me that I didn't control her life and she could do whatever she wanted when I wasn't watching. I replied, "Don't forget, Betsy, your mom knows what you are thinking when you are thinking it."
She replied, "Nunh unhh." That's kid code for "No, you can't." So I said, "Right now, you are thinking, 'My mom is the worst mom in the whole world.'"
Her jaw dropped and then she slunk down in her seat. It was all I could do to keep a straight face.
Actually, I didn't read her mind. I simply stated the obvious. But what if our thoughts could be seen and felt by those around us. Would we feel the need to clean up our act?
Did you know that oaks have a root system that is often of greater volume than the branching system of the tree? The roots are designed to feed and stabilize the tree, while the branches send water and nutrients back to the roots. An oak's root system starts with a large taproot, from which the rest of the smaller roots reach out beyond the above-ground parts of the tree.
During the winter, when the visible parts are dormant, the roots continue to function and grow even if the air above ground is brutally cold. This steady, persistent activity at root level fortifies the tree and prepares it for the rapid growth of spring. Winter root activity strengthens, giving trees staying power through the heat and drought of summer and fall.
I think we can draw two important parallels between us and the oaks. First, surface appearances aren't everything. Second, we each have a vital taproot.
This cat has a decided preference for my husband. The other morning I was giving some important instructions to my dear spouse (Read: I was bossing him around). He didn't seem to mind. But suddenly the cat stood up, walked over to me, put her face in mine - nose to nose - and with a wide-eyed glare, let out one sharp "Meeeow!" Then she returned to her spot, curled up and looked admiringly, worshipfully, at my husband.
I said, "Did you see that?" He said, "Yup. She just told you to shut up."
The Bible has a few conversation stoppers, too. They're designed to arrest all whining, fussing, nagging, griping, frothing, suffering, sinning, sickness and death.
The host welcomed his visitors by saying, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you.” Although they were glad to be invited to dine, there was a certain tension in the air. Everyone sensed it.
There had been some disputing* between them on their way to the supper. They arrived on time, but there was something amiss – something still lingering in the air.
It was a customary kindness to wash the road dust off the feet of one another upon arrival. But this time no one made a move to do it. So the host stepped forward, taking over the duty himself. He poured water in a basin and, one by one, washed the feet of each guest, wiping them dry with a towel. (See Luke 22, NIV)
MOJO. I love that word. I hope it doesn't get put on the passé list of overused words before I get a chance to own it for awhile. I only just looked up its meaning and added it to my cool expressions for confidence, assuredness, talent and resilience. At least that is what mojo means to me.
Today's post is the first in a new Thursday Series focusing on Finding your Prayer Mojo and praying with inspiration and effectiveness. I often hear "I don't know how to pray or what to think about when I pray." This series is designed to keep the subject of the how and what of prayer front and center and to nourish your confidence.
In the words of a hymn, "Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try." (Christian Science Hymnal, #284) It's that idea of simply thinking about God that you will find in these "Seven Ways to Find your Prayer Mojo."
To learn about me is to learn about healing prayer. Really, it is what I am all about. I believe that everyone can be benefited by healing prayer. Spirituality isn't a lifestyle choice. It is the basic element of identity. Experiencing the divine through prayer reaches to the core of one's true being. It meets the human need like nothing else can.
I am a Christian Science practitioner and teacher and I absolutely love my work! I have practiced Christian Science for others since 1989. But let me start this conversation by telling you a bit about how this all came about.
"I believe that prayer—spiritual reasoning that stays out of the fray, but seeks divine light on the situation—can open the way out of the crisis." These are words taken from my new article in the February 20, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel, dealing with the European financial news.
But I believe that pretty much everything in the article can be applied to crises of any kind - health, relational, business, mental, whatever.
As the article states, "Of course, finding solutions begins with the admission that manageable, practical, right answers exist and are discoverable. Turning to God—the universal divine Mind of all—through prayer, we can learn more of the intelligence, harmony, and progress that are attributes of Mind and reflected in man as God’s spiritual image. Admitting Mind to be the source of inspired ideas, and man—meaning both men and women—to be receptive to such inspiration, fosters an atmosphere of respect and openness. In fact, once that admission is made, the possibilities for unfolding good are limitless."
Want to see where to go from here? Check out the full article as republished on spirituality.com. While you are there, poke around and see if there are other articles that speak to your need today. And please come back here and tell me what is stirring in your thought. I am always interested in what you are thinking!
If you feel weak, tired or sad when you look at your life, you may be holding onto a too small sense of yourself as the reflection of Mind, God. God delights to show you the fullness of His kingdom.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “The kingdom of God is within you. Know then that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this power and trespass on divine Love..." (Pulpit and Press, p.3)
God's children, all of us, reflect the omniscient Mind that is God. We reflect the fullness of Mind. This means that we can know exactly what we need to know in the right place, at the right time, all the time. We each have a built-in capacity to reflect and express the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-hearing Mind that is God. However, if we believe we possess a separate mind, intelligence or ego, we may be living within the limiting precincts of ignorance, doubt and fear. It's not that we can't see; its that our eyes become closed to what is there to be seen.
_Christian Science is a living truth. When I first became interested in the practice of healing prayer, I wanted to learn more about the life and teachings of Christ Jesus, including how to pray effectively for others. Looking for a teacher to take a formal course was a logical step for me. So I began to pray about taking a primary class in Christian Science.
The relationship established between a Christian Science teacher and pupil is a lifelong bond. Teachers become mentors that are always available to support their pupils' practice of prayer. I knew that, before choosing a teacher, it was important to ask questions and to learn what I could about the class and the support that would follow it.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no