Christian Science Fulfills Godís Healing Promise

 

John J. Selover, C.S.B., of Long Beach, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Let us picture for a moment a great migration, the exodus of the twelve tribes of Israel from Egypt, where, through great effort, they had just won their way to freedom from bondage to the ruling Pharaoh. Under the wise guidance of Moses they passed through the Red Sea on dry ground. For three days the great host walked across desert wastes and found no water to drink. Then, we are told in the fifteenth chapter of Exodus, they came to the waters of the Marah. But upon tasting the water, they found that it was too bitter to drink. We can well imagine their disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, and futility. From a human standpoint it was not strange that they "murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?" (Ex. 15:24.)

Moses did not join in their disappointment, nor did he ignore the need. He turned to God for help. Then he cast a designated tree into the waters and they were forthwith sweetened. Following this proof of God's power and presence, the first Biblical statement of God's promise to banish disease is set forth. The Israelites were told that if they would listen diligently to the voice of God and do that which is right, and obey God's commandments, they would not be plagued by the diseases which the Egyptians suffered. The passage then concludes, "I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Ex. 15:26). This deific statement indicates that health is the natural result of obedience to the laws of God.

The healing covenant is reiterated in the twenty-third chapter of Exodus. Their obedience to the Commandments and the injunction against bowing down to false gods is again urged. Verse 25 reads, "And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee."

This healing promise is repeated over and over again in varying terminology throughout the Bible. Jesus was aware of it. He said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).

 

Health Through Obeying God's Law

More important than the wording of the covenant itself is the fact that it was proved operative as a definite and practical rule of healing by Old and New Testament prophets and is being proved so by present day Christians who understand and obey it.

Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, and Elisha, among others in Old Testament times, were familiar with and made practical use of God's healing promise. David resorted to God's law to guide and protect himself in times of danger or uncertainty. No doubt he also turned to God for healing, for he recognized that it is God "who healeth all thy diseases" (Ps. 103:3). Elijah, through obedience to and the utilization of the promises of God, restored to life a widow's son. On an another occasion he caused rain to fall on a thirsty land. Elisha, a little later, reversed poverty by multiplying a widow's fast-diminishing supply of oil, raised the child of the Shunammite woman, and healed Naaman of leprosy.

Abundant evidence of Godís power, ability, and willingness to heal and bless those who earnestly do their part and seek His help is to be found in the four Gospels.

For example, John's Gospel reports that Jesus healed a nobleman's son who was near death, healed the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, fed five thousand people when only five barley loaves and two small fishes were available, walked on the water, healed the adulterous woman, restored sight to the man born blind, raised Lazarus, and later raised himself from the tomb. His healing work was so extensive that John concludes his book with these words: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did that which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21:25).

After Jesus' ascension, the healing work continued for many generations. An extensive collection of healing testimony will be found in the book of Acts. Here we read that years after Jesus' ministry, Paul, Peter, James, and John, among others, healed the sick by obedience to and reliance upon God. For example, at Lystra, Paul healed a man who was crippled from birth; in Thyatira he cast out a spirit of divination; at Troas he raised Eutychus to life after he had fallen down from a third loft; on his sea voyage as a prisoner to be tried before Caesar, he saved the lives of all who were aboard when the ship was wrecked on the island of Melita, and while on the island he protected himself from the poisonous sting of a viper, healed the father of Publius, the ruler, of a fever and a bloody flux, and cured many other inhabitants who witnessed this healing.

No material means whatsoever were used in the magnificent Biblical healing work. Only prayer and the utilization of God's healing promise were employed. That was enough.

 

Who Is This God That Heals?

Paul in his brief but masterful sermon on Mars' Hill in Athens (Acts. 17) gives us a key to his successful healing work. "Ye men of Athens," Paul began, "I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious" (Acts 17:22).He then referred to an altar which he observed, which bore this inscription, "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." Paul then declared, "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you" (Acts 17:23). Paul's understanding of the one true God, who was unknown to the Athenians, gave him the only power he had to teach, preach, and heal. In his sermon he defined God as "Lord of heaven and earth," made it clear that God does not dwell in "temples made with hands," that He does not need anything, that He "giveth to all life, and breath, and all things," that He is "not far from everyone of us."

Of man and his relationship to God, Paul said, "In him (God) we live, and move, and have our being;" and he adds that we are the offspring of God.

In her inspired work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, amplifies Paul's definition of God. Early in her quest to understand God she learned from the Bible that He is Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love. As her concept of Deity developed she clearly saw that He is not material. Since God is, as Paul declared, "Lord of heaven and earth," she characterized Him as omnipotent. Since God is "not far from every one of us," she described Him as omnipresent. Since God has no need of anything, and hence is all-knowing, self-sufficient, self-contained, complete and satisfied, we know Him as omniscient.

This ever-present, all-powerful, all-knowing God is the only Life, Love, Mind, and Soul of all creation. The God who was unknown to the Athenians was well known to Paul. He is also known to the searching, seeking, present-day Christians. Mrs. Eddy, in her scholarly and inspired textbook, Science and Health, has aided mightily in removing the veil of ignorance which concealed God from view. On page 465 she defines God as "incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."

As a result of Mrs. Eddy's full revelation of Truth, God is made known as Life to those who are weary of or doubt the permanency of being; as Love to all in need of comfort, peace, tenderness, affection, Christian sympathy; as Mind to those in need of increased wisdom, guidance, protection; as Soul to the earnest searcher for inspiration, home, heaven, harmony, beauty, peace; as Spirit to the confused believer in the reality of matter - to those who believe their sustenance depends upon the abundance of material possessions; as Principle to those in search of an unalterable spiritual law which they may follow under all circumstances; as Truth to the earnest seeker for righteousness, those searchers for the healing, saving, ministering Christ.

 

Man's Relationship to God

It is not difficult for one who understands God to accept Paul's statement, "In him we live and move and have our being." Man, yes, our true spiritual identity or being, is held in the ever-present, all-embracing love of Love; is enlivened within the infinite dimensions of limitless Life; is motivated, activated, and mentally awakened by the ever-available consciousness or Mind; is beautified, harmonized, and inspired in all-pervading Soul; is strengthened, supported, and upheld in omnipotent Spirit; is governed by Principle; and is maintained in perfect health and holiness by the Christ, Truth.

The image and likeness of God, or God's spiritual offspring, does not originate or have being in a distant Deity. His creator is not a material, unsympathetic, unknowing, variable power. His eternal Father-Mother is Love, Love changeless, omnipresent good.

Man's Father-Mother is infinite, the source of all good. Man is the recipient, the embodiment, the expression, the reflection, the beneficiary of good, of Love's eternal qualities. Man's Maker is not like the carpenter who builds a house and then leaves it. Our Creator, the eternal Builder, remains eternally with His idea, nurturing, upholding, maintaining, and perpetually caring for him. God is always present with each one of us. He supplies us with an abundance of everything we need to express our individual and eternal purpose. God gives us perfect health, perfect understanding, perfect spiritual being, strength, purity, wisdom, immortality. All good from God finds expression in His idea, man.

 

Real versus Mortal Man

The term "man" as used in Christian Science is confusing to materialists, who look to the mortal body to find life. Those engaged in the task of developing their spiritual understanding of God are learning to distinguish between the counterfeit, mortal man, who, the Bible declares, "is of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1), and the real spiritual man, yes, the real you and me, made in the image and likeness of God.

No healing is accomplished by one who persists in believing that man is a mortal, material being. A mortal, no matter how grand in human appearance, can never raise himself to the stature of spiritual perfection. The mortal and material is a lie about the real man. It is the old man who must be put off. Paul pointed out, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Cor. 15:53), and he added that when this change is accomplished death will be "swallowed up in victory" (v. 54).

Paul obviously meant that the putting off of the mortal and corruptible concept of being could take place here. He clearly stated that when this was done, there would be no more death. How important it is then for us to put aside our mortal, material beliefs about life, substance, and intelligence in matter, and to emphasize, magnify, amplify the enduring, good, true qualities in our daily thoughts and lives. In the measure that we know God, and express the divine qualities, false traits and beliefs, with their discord and mortality, disappear from our lives. As corrupt, mortal thinking is put off, reality begins to appear.

From my office window, several years ago, I had a splendid view of the sunset over the harbor. As I watched it, I became so absorbed in its beauty that I was unaware of the intervening glass or of any dirt which might have collected on it. The glory of the sunset was entirely unaffected by the minor obstructions to my view. Even had the window been completely blackened, the sunset in all its grandeur would still have been there. But in order to see it clearly the obstruction would need to be wiped away. In like manner, in order to gain a correct concept of God and His expression, man, we must erase from thought that which obstructs true vision. We can see God and man only with the spiritual senses. And the spiritual senses are developed to the extent that we wipe away the false beliefs, the fear, the ignorance, and the sin in human consciousness, and consistently and persistently strive to understand and obey God.

 

Effects of Seeing Perfect Man

Man, the image and likeness of God, is always a perfect idea. The belief that we are material bodies living in a dangerous material world does not alter the forever fact that man is truly spiritual. As the mortal beliefs are wiped out of our thought, we are able to see, more and more clearly, perfect God, perfect man, and perfect universe. The good which we observe in human thinking and living gives glorious glimpses or hints of the perfect nature of the real man. These qualities of goodness should and always can be improved. To the extent that they are improved, our true spiritual nature becomes more apparent. To the extent that one allows mortal and material thinking to rule in his life, he loses sight of his real being or identity. If one allows jealousy, pride, fear, domination, self-will, or the like to rule in his thoughts, his human affections are impoverished. His affections are enriched by allowing the enduring qualities of divine Love to rule in his consciousness. As this enrichment takes place the false traits which had detracted from the perfect expression of love begin to disappear and his true selfhood proportionately appears. In like manner, as health is seen to be spiritual, and not material, better human health is manifested. This betterment, it is clear, does not result from making matter better or from giving any attention whatsoever to matter or mortal mind, but rather by living more closely in harmony with the laws of divine Life. Matter can never be improved, for it is inert, mindless. The displacing of the belief that life is in flesh leaves the body free to perform its normal function unaffected by fear, ignorance, or sin. Mrs. Eddy thus stated the rule in Science and Health: "Establish the scientific sense of health, and you relieve the oppressed organ" (p. 373).

Mrs. Eddy discovered that there is an immutable law of God operating which, when properly understood and applied, harmonizes one's way of life, and also heals the ills of the body. Early in her life she was assured by her dearly loved mother of God's unvarying and tender love. Her exceptionally well-developed faith in God as good led her, as a twelve-year-old child, to challenge and reject the then prevalent belief of predestination. Salvation and healing, she believed were dependent upon the purity and understanding of the heart, upon genuine love for and obedience to God, and not upon any outward display of fervor toward him.

When in 1866 she was thought to be in a hopeless physical condition due to an accident, she turned to God for help. She read her Bible for comfort, as she had often done before. She opened the book to the account of the healing of the palsied man as related in Matthew 9. As she read she gained strength and well-being, left her bed, dressed and startled her anxious friends when she walked into the next room, healed.

She might have given no further thought to her healing, in which case the healing aspect of Christianity would doubtless still be hidden from us. But she experienced an irrepressible urge to investigate the nature of her healing and to present the underlying rules so clearly that the sick in this age might find health and salvation by prayer alone. Healing by the power of God, she concluded after three years of prayer, research, and practice, is the only certain and effective method. Hopeless cases, abandoned by earnest and honest physicians, were healed as she applied the Scriptural rules which were illumined to her during her close study of the Bible.

 

Establishment of Church

Mrs. Eddy's early hope was that the Christian churches would enlarge the borders of their creeds to include Christian healing. She saw that this unused element of Christianity would fit into present religion. This was not a strange conclusion, for most Christian churches of today use the same primary book, the Holy Bible, the King James Version, and it presents healing of the sick by prayer as an inseparable part of its doctrinal teaching. No interest was shown in her discovery by her pastor or by other ministers of the Gospel to whom she presented her findings. Wherever she turned, she found opposition and criticism. Her sister offered her a home and security if she would give up her activity on behalf of Christian healing. Although she was in need of financial assistance, she declined the offer, choosing rather to trust God, who, she was confident, lovingly meets every human need. Alone, but mindful of her mission of restoring Christian healing to the world, she prayed, taught, healed, and wrote. Her great love for God and man gave her strength to go forward.

She published a great book, the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health," in 1875. The issuance of this book started a new storm of opposition from pulpit and press, from those who were schooled in a more limited and formulated Christianity. At her moment of greatest persecution, a few men and women of vision encouraged her. One noted writer, Mr. A. Bronson Alcott, came to her and said, "I have come to comfort you" (Pulpit and Press, p. 5). He then prophesied the success of the book. This prophecy has been and is being increasingly fulfilled. Not only is Science and Health a top-selling book among religious volumes, but, more important, it is healing and otherwise blessing those who study it.

Not many years after the publication of the textbook the Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized. Mrs. Eddy postponed organization until she was confident that it was the best and quickest way to give to humanity the benefits of complete Christian salvation. Today the Christian Science church is lovingly inviting the sick, the sinner, the confused, the hopeless, to turn to God, and, in conformity with God's healing promise, to enjoy constantly increasing health and happiness. Consistent study of the authorized books and literature, including the weekly Bible Lessons given in the Christian Science Quarterly, church attendance, membership, and activity, all operate to hasten one's enjoyment of healing and complete salvation.

 

Accepting Healing Today

"Denial of the possibility of Christian healing," Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, "robs Christianity of the very element, which gave it divine force and its astonishing and unequalled success in the first century" (p. 134). Some deny that Christian healing is possible today. Some have asserted that the teachings of Christian Science are not Scriptural, but the first of the religious tenets of Christian Science states that "as adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497), and a spiritual understanding of the Bible is bringing about healing as it did in the first century. Many attacks have been and still are being made on the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Falsified stories, originated by earlier opponents, are sometimes repeated today.

A few years ago a noted minister traveled throughout the United States denouncing Christian Science and attacking Mrs. Eddy. After one vitriolic lecture in a Pacific coast city, which was to be followed by another in a larger city, he wrote to a Christian Scientist in part, as follows: "A week ago I spoke critically of Christian Science. On yesterday afternoon, I was scheduled to do likewise.

"However, while in prayer during the week, the Lord led me to discontinue speaking on, this subject . . . I feel definitely impressed that it is the will of God that I shall cease and desist from all critical reference to Christian Science in my sermons . . ."

Even as Saul of Tarsus obeyed God's command to stop persecuting Christians, here we find a Christian minister, a man obviously listening for God's voice, willing to accept God's guidance and to cease attacking Christian Science. Others who are prone to malign Mrs. Eddy or to attack the church which she established might well study the story of Saul's conversion to Christianity as given in the book of Acts, and ask the same question that he asked, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts. 9:6).

"Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching," declares Mrs. Eddy on page 454 of Science and Health. A proper sense of love for Mrs. Eddy and for her great contribution to the world is needed for the successful practice of Christian healing. John declared, "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (I John 4:20).

 

Our Part in the Healing Covenant

To enjoy the benefits of God's healing promise to humanity, the seeker must do something. Healing does not come to one who just stands idly by, careless of God's requirements of him. It is necessary to obey God's commandments, to love God and to love all of His ideas. A most important preliminary to success in healing is for one to

overcome his ignorance of God. It is not possible to love God and obey His commands if we are ignorant of His nature and His laws. How can one love and appreciate that of which he is unaware? How can he love and obey an unknown God? Understanding destroys ignorance. Therefore the Christian who wishes to practice Christian healing must develop a spiritual understanding of God. As he does, he will become conversant with Him. He will hear His voice, understand His requirements, and will know how to obey them. As ignorance of God's nature is destroyed, a better sense of man and his real nature is gained, for man is the perfect image of the God he is learning to love. As one gains a better understanding of God, he begins to awaken to the fact that he, in his true spiritual status, is the child of God. Persistent, affirmation of the truth about God and man helps to destroy ignorance, which is often the cause of trouble.

The law of God insists that we overcome fear and sin in order to enjoy the complete blessings of His promise to mankind. When Jairus came to Jesus on behalf of his daughter, who was dying, Jesus said to him, "Be not afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36). This calm and confident request, obeyed by Jairus, opened the way to demonstrate the Christ Truth in restoring his daughter to health. John said, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:18). A spiritual understanding of God as Love destroys the ignorant state of thought which lets in fear and its effects.

Sin is sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome when one is seeking to gain the benefits of God's promise of healing. The word "sin" has a broad interpretation as used in Christian Science. It is any departure from that which is good, worthy, and true. It is the belief that life is in matter. It includes such faults of character as hatred, envy, resentment, jealousy, anger, temper, pride, self-will, criticism, impatience, dishonesty, impurity, and sensuality. "The way to escape the misery of sin is to cease sinning," declares Mrs. Eddy on page 327 of Science and Health. As one overcomes his ignorance of God and obeys His requirements, the sin naturally disappears, and with that elimination the way is cleared for the destruction of the suffering that the sin caused.

 

Jesus and the Healing Christ

The influence which operates in human consciousness to make the individual want to be a better man is the Christ. To the extent that one allows the Christ to operate in his thought, he is uplifted, blessed, and healed. What is the healing, saving Christ? It is not the man Jesus, but it is the power which he manifested so thoroughly during his brief ministry. It is the manifestation of the omnipotence, the omnipresence, the omniscience of God, of which Jesus so beautifully declared, just before he ascended, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). The Christ is the healing, redeeming power and presence of God operating perpetually in human consciousness. A denial of the Christ, a refusal of the Christ, or an ignorance of the Christ may temporarily prevent the healing benefits from appearing in the human environment or body. The blessing of healing will surely appear as the needy one opens his heart willingly to the Christ and complies with his part in the perpetual covenant that God has with man.

In the healing of the palsied man, Jesus saw that it was sin which needed to be overcome in order that the healing might be manifested. Jesus said to him, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matt. 9:2). In many cases the exact error to be overcome does not appear in the Scriptural report of the case. Jesus was so pure in heart that he could discern and rebuke the error which opposed purity without even revealing its name to those about him. Therefore it is not strange that his biographers were restricted in their ability to report the complete healing method in each case. But there is enough evidence presented in the extensive collection of all cases in the Gospels to know that he was working to destroy ignorance, fear, and sin.

In chapter nine of John's Gospel, it is reported that "as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth." His disciples, yearning to learn more of his healing method so that they too could discern the offending error and be better healers, asked Jesus, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" His disciples had already learned that sinful thinking or acting could cause bodily suffering, and that healing resulted when the sin was cast out by the truth. They were quick to conclude that here was a man bound to blindness either by his own sin or that of his parents. His disciples believed, no doubt, that heredity had power to act as a cause of disease, that the sins of the parents could make the children suffer. On the other hand Jesus knew that God is the Father of man and that man could not be born blind, because he was never born either in or out of matter. Man has no material progenitors from which to inherit. He eternally coexists with God, who supplies him with good only.

Was sin involved in this case of blindness? No, for Jesus said plainly, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." Here we see Jesus did not specifically mention the error needing to be handled or destroyed. But he knew what it was. Probably the error involved ignorance of God and of man's true relationship to Him. The works of God, the perfection and activity of God, were needed to be manifested in him. The blind man needed to recognize that of which he had been unaware, his eternal perfection as the spiritual offspring of God. Jesus needed to handle the popular community belief that this case was hopeless. The account points out that Jesus spat on the ground. In this act he was not preparing a material remedy, for he had already made it very clear to his disciples that "ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24). Apparently he was illustrating contempt for matter and its spurious claims. He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. Now, he commanded, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." It was as if he had said, "Go and cleanse yourself of the ignorant belief that either matter in your eyes or matter in the clay is intelligent or real." The man obeyed, and when he washed he "came seeing."

The townspeople were greatly agitated by this healing. Some declared that Jesus used the power of Satan. When confronted by his doubting neighbors, the healed man said, "Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind." Also he said, "Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes . . . If this man were not of God, he could do nothing."

Obviously ignorance of God and of man's perfect relationship to Him had been overcome in this case, and the restoration of normal vision was the result.

 

Scriptural Healing Revived

For several centuries the Bible has been in print, available for all who wished to enjoy it. For generations earnest men and women have read the Scriptures, gaining strength and inspiration from their words. Over and over again the marvelous testimonies of healing have been read and discussed. Perhaps some wondered why healings were not taking place today, for Jesus had clearly stated that greater works than he did would be done by those who followed his instructions and example. In justification of their inability to heal, some have claimed that the healing of the body was but a symbol to show the divine nature of Jesus and his mission, and that the age of healing is now past. Such reasoning, in view of the abundant present-day evidence of healing by prayer, needs to be reviewed and revised. God's healing promise is not limited. It is for today and forever.

At a recent Wednesday testimony meeting in the church of which I am a member, I heard grateful members of the congregation relate the healing of tuberculosis, of eye trouble which had necessitated the constant use of glasses, or broken ribs, colds, croup, drunkenness, unhappiness. Healings of every type of discord are published regularly in the Christian Science Sentinel, The Christian Science Journal, and The Herald of Christian Science, which are available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. You are invited to examine these reports and to read the accompanying articles, which are filled with hope, comfort, and healing.

 

God Meets Human Needs

At the last supper with his disciples the night before his crucifixion, Jesus assured them that after his departure God would give them another Comforter. This Comforter, which he named the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of truth, is here today. It presents the proof that the Christ is still instantly available to establish, maintain, or restore harmony, to meet the human need for health, happiness, and security.

A young woman, during the depression, found herself in need of gainful employment. She interviewed a professional man with whom she had attended Christian Science Sunday School several years earlier. He had himself only recently entered the professional field and had no position open for her. During the interview he asked her about her church activity. It developed that she had neglected church attendance and membership, and was not studying the weekly Bible Lessons which are so important to the progress of students of this religion. It was pointed out to her that the only real satisfying occupation is found in reflecting the goodness of God in our daily lives. She awakened to the fact that there was something that she needed to do. She decided that she would prepare herself for church membership. She began to study seriously. In a few months she applied for and was accepted for membership. During this waiting period she was happy, although still unemployed. On the day that she signed the church register, she had a telephone call from one who was unfamiliar with her religion or her urgent need. He offered her satisfactory employment which soon led to most gratifying advancement.

This experience illustrates the operation of the law of God in human affairs. His law is supreme and ever operative "in earth, as it is in heaven." God always had activity, substance, supply, wisdom, for her. But she had closed the door to it by her failure to do her part in proving her relationship with God. She had ignored God in her quest for work, and consequently did not feel His guidance. But when she earnestly and prayerfully turned to Him, the operation of His law manifested itself in her human affairs.

 

Prayer and Fasting

A Sunday School teacher was discussing the Bible story of the healing of the epileptic boy by Jesus, which was included in the Lesson-Sermon for the Week. You will recall that his disciples could not heal him and in dismay they asked him, "Why could not we cast him out?" Jesus replied, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:28,29). The teacher asked one of the little girls, "What does prayer and fasting mean?" Without hesitation the child replied, "To pray is to think good thoughts, and to fast is not to think bad thoughts."

The popular conception that fasting means forgoing certain foods for a season is not the true meaning of the term as used by Christ Jesus in this story, or as accepted in Christian Science. Unceasing prayer is feasting perpetually on the things of God, entertaining thoughts of spiritual perfection. Fasting is the abstinence from and the denial of error of all kind. Our prayer and fasting should be consistent and continuous, not spasmodic, lackadaisical, or seasonal. The importance of true Christian living is pointed out clearly in Science and Health where Mrs. Eddy says, "If you fail to succeed in any case, it is because you have not demonstrated the life of Christ, Truth, more in your own life, - because you have not obeyed the rule and proved the Principle of divine Science" (p. 149).

How does one live a life of prayer and fasting? By developing a spiritual understanding of God and His creation, by serving God, by yielding to the requirements of the infinite, and by denying all error. It should be noted that our prayer and fasting are not emotional or intellectual exercises. It is the spiritual sense of prayer, the humble, fervent, habitual desire to do and be good, to be perfect, that gives one ever-increasing ability to heal himself and others.

To maintain or restore health and harmony one must serve God with all his heart. He must obey God's commands, give up his fears, his sinful thinking, his doubts about God and His perpetual goodness and perfection. Then assuredly God's covenant of healing will operate for him in all his affairs.

Solomon thus stated God's requirements leading to health: "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add to thee . . . Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct, thy paths" (Prov. 3:1,2,5,6).

 

[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Dec. 12, 1957.]

 

 

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