For those who have been trying to get rid of a problem for a long time, it sometimes becomes necessary to ward off frustration and impatience. The Christian Science Sentinel magazine, recently published one of my articles - "How long will this take?" - which shows a way out of the exasperation and annoyance that can crop up if a problem has hung around a bit too long.
Here is a sneak peek: "I had a long-standing relationship problem during which I worked with a number of Christian Science practitioners to resolve the problem through prayer for a number of years. Then one day, when my thought was occupied elsewhere, the healing came. I was mad. Why now? Why was this healed on a day I had been praying about something else (in fact, praying for someone else)? Why hadn’t my first prayers been enough?..."
If your interest is peaked and you would like to know why, read How long will this take? in the January 13-20, 2014 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
You have access to the article for free on the subscription site JSH Online through the link on this blog. While you are there, you might want to look into this amazing resource for further reading on Christian Science. There, thousands of articles and testimonies on Christian Science healing are gathered together in one place - certainly more than worth the price of a subscription.
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I recently received this request: "Help me find understanding in the [weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson], as when I read it I feel confused. People will say to me, 'Oh, wasn't that a wonderful lesson on happiness?' or something, and I can barely remember what it was about. If I read it 4 times I still don't get it... I feel stupid."
RESPONSE: Nah, you aren't stupid. Like anything, Bible study takes practice and tools can help. When I first attempted a regular study routine, I didn't think I got much out of what I read either. But actually, good stuff was getting in (and coming out in my life) without my realizing it. The discipline of sticking with it, even when it was difficult, helped me became more familiar with the layout of the Bible. And although I, too, often couldn't pinpoint an overriding theme from the Lesson, certain passages did tend to stick with me or pop back into thought when I needed them.
But to begin to really enjoy the study, I tried different things that helped me find more substantial meaning. I learned off the bat that it's not important what the lesson may mean to others. It's important that it mean something to me. If your Bible study is in a rut or if you are having difficulty staying focused, you might try one or more of these ideas which helped me to perk up my study life.
Mark the books
I frequently receive questions from readers of this blog concerning Bible study. How do you keep your study fresh and alive? Feel free to share in your comment below.
Gertrude Stein wrote in her book Everybody's Autobiography (1937), "It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing."
I must say I do agree. At least it can look that way to an observer. And it often feels that way to the one going through the process of sitting, thinking, squirming, waiting, wondering, gazing out the window, staring at the wall, clipping fingernails, thinking... all the while waiting for some outward sign of forward movement.
Oh, how many times have I experienced just that. Each time I think I will discover some new way to circumvent the process. And then, here we go again.
A couple of years ago, I was in the middle of what looked and felt like a "doing nothing" patch. I had been staring at the walls for a decent chunk of time as January dragged into February. When it looked like February might pass into March without much to say for it, I reached out to a Christian Science practitioner for help.
Christian Science practitioners (like me) pray for people to help them out of stuck places in their lives. I wasn't sure what I was looking for from this prayer, other than the ability to trust that all this quiet, and thinking, and sitting, and doing nothing but scrutinize my white walls, was OK... And to know that I wasn't nuts. Because, frankly, I wondered what was wrong with me that nothing seemed to be going on in my life.
So she prayed for me until I saw the reinforcing power that develops in deep periods of quiet. I would describe what I saw this way:
Think of the formation of a wave. A wave develops well under the surface on the ocean floor. The current (think undertow, when it happens near the shore) pulls back, and finally pushes up, propelling the water forward with amazing force. We glory in the beauty of the activity on the surface, not always recognizing the invisible, silent, essential build-up of strength that precedes it.
I turn to Mary Baker Eddy for a clear description of the metaphysics of this wave development. She wrote, "Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, — wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 323)
No matter what it looks like on the surface, something powerful is happening.
I have been a pusher all my life. But I love to think now of these strength-yielding pauses. I believe it is absolutely essential to allow oneself the mental space - white wall space - to pause, to be - to think and wonder and even squirm (!), - as one waits on the onward push of God, omniactive good.
Its not really a time thing. I have had pauses that last but a second before the next breakers of inspiration jettison me forward onto the shore of some new adventure or activity. Others have been long. Really long. What looked, up close, to be a two month pause a couple of years ago, was really the last momentum-gathering undertow at the end of a six year deep-think pause. But the force of that build-up has carried me through some of my most productive and interesting years yet.
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A woman stood at a scarf counter in an upscale department store waiting to get the attention of the sales clerk who was busy doing other things and completely ignoring her. Fuming, feeling invisible and neglected, she was about to react when the thought came to pause and pray.
Taking a deep breath, she thought, "I must be able to see at least one quality of God in this sales clerk before I speak."
So she prayed. And she listened for something, anything good about this clerk. Lots came to mind, but they were more faults than positive qualities derived from God, universal Good. And then she thought, "Wait a minute. She breathes, therefore she expresses Life!"
A blog reader asked why some healings through prayer take longer than others. I will respond from the heart and from my own experience, which is the only way I can see to answer such a sensitive, and often angst-filled, question. A few months back someone asked if I thought healing through prayer is going on as readily and rapidly as it did in Christ Jesus' day or even a hundred years ago. This prompted me to list for myself, on paper, every major healing I have had. In the end I had quite a number - from walking pneumonia to broken bones to a growth in one breast. In all, there were 53 major healing events listed. I left off the small stuff - the bouts of flu, or colds, or family arguments - that evaporated quickly after prayer. Although I suppose a healing of a bad cold in five minutes, for example, could rank as a fairly influential healing...
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