A mother asked for help through prayer for her baby who had been paralyzed from the waist down since birth. The mom prayed, too. But she became discouraged each day at bath time as her infant lay motionless in the tub.
Demoralized, she called the Christian Science practitioner and explained how she would pray all morning to see the perfection of God's creation expressed in this child. Then at bath time she would be so disappointed to see that nothing had changed.
In a letter to the Christians in Corinth, Paul talked about the value of being absent from the body and present with the Lord when we pray. To me, the idea of being "absent from the body" doesn't mean that we should neglect the human body, or close our eyes to problems. But it does give a helpful hint as to how we can look past present problems to discern spiritual solutions and gain a better sense of body as the embodiment of spiritual qualities, not limited to or by matter - the spiritual sense that an understanding of God as Spirit brings.
The mom took up the practitioner's suggestion. During the next bath, she prayed while she bathed the child, keeping her focus on what God is and does, rather than examining the legs of the baby for signs of motion. I don't know the details of her prayer. I do know that her prayer was suddenly interrupted by water splashing on her face. Her baby kicked. Healing came during that bath.
I really like the New Living Translation of Paul's thoughts on this subject of body and healing. "While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:4-9)
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy takes Paul's ideas and Christ Jesus' teaching and lays down a clear path for healing prayer. She wrote, "If we are sensibly with the body and regard omnipotence as a corporeal, material person, whose ear we would gain, we are not "absent from the body" and "present with the Lord" in the demonstration of Spirit. We cannot "serve two masters." To be "present with the Lord" is to have, not mere emotional ecstasy or faith, but the actual demonstration and understanding of Life as revealed in Christian Science. To be "with the Lord" is to be in obedience to the law of God, to be absolutely governed by divine Love, — by Spirit, not by matter.
"Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well. Sorrow
is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth, and Love. Hence the hope of the promise Jesus bestows: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; . . . because I go unto my Father," — [because the Ego is absent from the body, and present with Truth and Love.]" (p.14)
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