Christian Science: Magnifying God in Prayer
Earl E. Simms, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The Lord's Prayer - spiritually
understood and lived - offers the only lasting basis for solutions of mankind's
social, moral, and political problems, Earl E. Simms of
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Standing in the city of
So vital is this Sermon to one's spiritual progress in Christian Science that its beloved Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, says of it (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 11), "To my sense the Sermon on the Mount, read each Sunday without comment and obeyed throughout the week, would be enough for Christian practice." Then she continues, "The Word of God is a powerfu1 preacher, and it is not too spiritual to be practical, nor too transcendental to be heard and understood."
Quite properly, then, genuine students of Christian Science seek not to digress from the fundamentals of this Sermon in their daily work and conversation any more than they would deviate from the absolute and scientific spiritual method of healing the sick as taught in Christian Science.
The Christian Scientist accepts and studies the King James Version of the Scriptures as authentic and inspired. To him the Bible is a sacred book. His purpose is to understand its spiritual truths, which lift humanity out of disease, sin, and death.
It was natural for Mrs. Eddy to place the Bible first in her teachings and in her church. She established it as one of the forever textbooks in Christian Science. It is given full place in every Christian Science church service. She says of her discovery of Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 126): "The Bible has been my only authority. I have had no other guide in 'the straight and narrow way' of truth." She further says, "and I have found nothing in ancient or in modern systems on which to found my own, except the teachings and demonstrations of our great Master and the lives of prophets and apostles."
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
The discovery of the Christianly scientific method employed by the Master in healing the sick and diseased and regenerating the sinful was not by chance.
Following an experience where she was healed instantaneously of the effects of an accident by reading an account in Matthew's Gospel of a healing by Jesus, Mrs. Eddy retired from society. As time went on she recognized the mission for which God had been preparing her since childhood. The ensuing three years she devoted to consecrated study of the Scriptures. Days and nights of earnest, unselfish prayer revealed to her the scientific and divine nature, hence the practicality of Jesus' mission. Through Christlike love for God and man, coupled with self-sacrifice and self-abnegation, exceeded perhaps only in the life of her Exemplar, Christ Jesus, she was divinely led to write her textbook,
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," a book that has had wider circulation than any other religious textbook with the exception of the Bible. It is most interesting that the last one hundred pages of this book, while not written by the author, are given over to testimonies of healing of disease and discord of every sort accomplished by reading the book alone.
My friends, let us think for a moment on Mrs. Eddy's situation at this time, that is, when she began receiving letters brimming with gratitude and love from persons she had never seen or known, who had been healed and who in turn had healed others through reading her book. "Surely," as one writer puts it, "one other than the God-inspired would have been completely swept off her feet with the holy realization that devastating diseases, bad habits, and sinful thoughts were being destroyed, and hope, happiness, and love made to flower in the place of sickness, despair, and discouragement as a result of reading her book, 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.' "
Indeed, it was what her discovery was doing for humanity that gave this intrepid Christian Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, the courage to build her church upon the rock (the healing Christ) against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. Indeed, she so built her church that you may be sure the gates of sin, disease, and death are not prevailing against it, but are definitely crumbling in the face of its Christly ministrations.
The Lord's Prayer
My friend, do you seem at present enmeshed in the webs of confusion, fear, sin, and disease? Are you at a loss to know which way to turn? Do you desire above all else to know how to pray, how to approach God, the Giver of all and only good? If so, then you can appreciate the attitude of the disciple who pleaded, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). Jesus at once warned his disciples against many false methods of prayer. Then he gave what we rightfully call the Lord's Prayer because he gave it; and, equally important, it was the way he himself prayed. Could he have given any but his own method of prayer? It was effective for him, hence he knew it would demonstrate God's tender love, His goodness, presence, and power, in the experience of all who prayed it understandingly, humbly, and fervently. This prayer of Soul, though entirely spiritual in nature, covers every human need.
The first four statements of our Lord's Prayer are clearly intended as magnifications of God; while the last three statements are assurances of what He does for man. Spiritually interpreted, this prayer destroys ignorance of God. Indeed, it magnifies Him. The diligent Christian Scientist spiritually prays verbatim the Lord's Prayer daily. However, he employs it many more times each day in its infinite, all-inclusive sense. Our Master said, "After this manner therefore pray ye" (Matt. 6:9); he did not say, "Confine yourself to these words." Surely, effective prayer, prayer that heals, is not stereotyped or ritualistic but is spontaneous, original, individual. Such prayer heals, regenerates, and saves. Jesus declared, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matt. 6:6). It is the heart and not the lips which prays in secret and is rewarded openly!
So in prayer the Christian Scientist closes the door of his consciousness to the false testimony of the physical senses. He refuses to see or entertain any thought of anything that is unlike God. Indeed, he closes his lips and silently pleads, that is, he affirms God's allness - His all-power, His all-intelligence, His everywhereness. One can readily see that this prayer does not petition God to be God. It does not plead with God as one pleads with a corporeal mortal. Rather it knows, understands, Him to be good, to be merciful now and forever. It acknowledges that here and now He exercises His authority and love as the Father-Mother of all.
Now, my friends, let us explore together, petition by petition, this matchless prayer and thereby grasp with firmer understanding its healing and spiritual nature. Surely we shall then feel here and now its heavenly influence and healing power in every fiber of our being. Recently I heard in a Wednesday testimony meeting in a Christian Science church a person tell of the complete healing of fear, fever, and pain by praying the Lord's Prayer with its spiritual interpretation given in Science and Health (pp. 16, 17). Here Mrs. Eddy quotes first the opening line of the prayer,
"Our Father which art in heaven."
This she spiritually interprets in the following beautiful words:
"Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious."
Most comforting it is to know and understand God as our Father-Mother, hence ourselves as His children. Truly, this fact establishes the brotherhood of man. Those who do the will of God are his brothers and his sisters, and even his mother, said Jesus. Then insist, that is, be importunate in your acknowledgment that God is your Father-Mother, that you are an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ, and thus feel His love and tender care.
We all agree, I am sure, that there is only one God! The Scriptures define Him as the great I AM, Life, Truth, Love, Spirit; they imply that He is Mind, Soul. Plainly, God is the one and only creator of man, including the universe. As Father-Mother of all, He must be and is the divine Principle, the source, the foundation, the origin of all existence. It is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion. . . . So God created man in his own image. . . . And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Thoroughly cognizant of the present reality and power of these spiritual facts, the beloved disciple John exclaimed, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (I John 3:2).
Jesus the Christ
The spiritual nature and origin of our Master exemplifies God as the Father-Mother of man. Jesus was born of a virgin; he loved, respected, and obeyed his mother, but he did not agree that the human bonds could be evidence of either real motherhood or sonship. The beloved Mary expressed in manifold ways the purity, tenderness, love, and assurance of a spiritually-minded mother. Indeed, she was conscious of Jesus' spiritual origin. Indubitably, she knew and felt his mission to represent the Christ, the Saviour of the world. The fatherhood of God was never a debatable question with Jesus. Hence, he prayed, "Our Father which art in heaven."
Jesus, the human name of our Master, meaning Saviour, was given him through inspiration expressed in these words: "And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. ). In human stature he appeared to be a person just like you and me; yet spiritual comprehension and understanding reveal him as the highest human corporeal concept of God's idea. He rebuked sin, destroyed disease, and thereby brought to light man's immortality, in this capacity he fulfilled the office of Christ, "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583). Indeed, the Messiah, Immanuel, or God with you and me, is the Christ, Truth, operating in our consciousness, destroying error and establishing harmony as the forever fact of being.
"Hallowed be Thy name.
The word God is the greatest of all words. It is complete in itself; hence, we do not compound or connect it with any lesser words! To do so would be to take His name in vain. To you and me, God is All-in-all. He is infinite, divine, supreme, eternal good. We sanctify His name. We hold it sacred and blessed; we keep it pure and unadulterated in our hearts. Indeed, the word "hallowed," stemming from the Anglo-Saxon "halig," means holy, blessed, and consecrated. Rightly, then, we have the Christianly scientific unfoldment of "Hallowed be Thy name" as simply "Adorable One." It is interesting to note that the term "adore" in its pure and original sense can be applied only to Deity. It means to speak or act in prayer, to admire greatly, to pay honor, to show reverence for. In Christian Science there is one God only. Hence, there can be no god before, after, or equal to the one and only God, the Soul or Essence of all being.
To the inquiring thought of Moses, God said, "I AM THAT I AM." Here is a definite and inspired name for Deity. Now man is not God, but is God's image and likeness. The true being of man is spiritual and reflects God. Therefore man cannot say I AM to anything that is unlike God. So then man can never truthfully say I am sick, I am tired, I am discouraged, unhappy, or in lack, because no such thing is true about his divine Principle, God. On the other hand, you may affirm of your true being, "I am Godlike and Christly, hence I am happy, I am joyous, and I am free, because God made me so and preserves me in my original state of perfection."
"Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present."
The Scripture declares, "In
the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Obviously,
heaven and earth, God's creation, are not two widely separated creations, one
spiritual and eternal and the other material and temporal, as is commonly
believed. Originating in and emanating from Spirit, heaven and earth are spiritual,
perfect, and eternal. Earth in its genuine and real sense is a compound
spiritual idea of God; while heaven also expresses the nature and the presence
of God. Heaven and earth, God's kingdom, spiritually understood, are direct evidence
of the divine Mind or God and are not outside of man, your real being. Jesus
said, "Behold, the
We can definitely win peace, harmony, health, and happiness by magnifying God, His kingdom, and His man here on earth. Our Master promised, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke ).
"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Enable us to know, - as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme."
In his struggle in
I found it most inspiring one day
to visit the
I recalled, from the Bible, how he said to Peter, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53.) Thereupon the Saviour, with incomparable compassion, forgiveness, and love, healed Malchus' ear. With a start, I exclaimed aloud: "What a victory! What a triumph! Love has conquered hate!" Does not our Master's experience here remind you of what our Leader says in Science and Health (p. 254)? "If you venture upon the quiet surface of error and are in sympathy with error, what is there to disturb the waters? What is there to strip off error's disguise?
"If you launch your bark upon the ever-agitated but healthful waters of truth, you will encounter storms. Your good will be evil spoken of. This is the cross. Take it up and bear it, for through it you win and wear the crown. Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven;
stranger, thou art the guest of God,"
Here again, one may ask: "How can I gain a better understanding of God? How can I magnify Him?" Certainly to magnify God is not to change or move Him through flattery or exaggeration, but is rather to change our thought of Him from a material to a spiritual basis and to enlarge upon this concept.
Seeking to enlarge, that is magnify, his concept of God, one student while reading consecutive pages in the Christian Science textbook for forty-five minutes recorded twenty-eight descriptive names for God. The seven major synonyms for God, namely, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love, so prominently used in Christian Science, are found in the Bible either by statement or by implication. The Scriptures also plainly define God as the only cause and creator. He revealed Himself to Noah as Saviour and Preserver. To Moses he defined Himself as "I AM THAT I AM." To Elijah He was Provider; the ravens at God's command fed him by the brook Cherith. To Elisha he was Healer, even Life itself. Witness the healing of Naaman of leprosy and the raising from the dead of the son of the Shunammite woman. To Daniel in the lions' den and the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace He was definitely Supreme Ruler, hence protector and guardian. To David He was Shepherd, keeper, restorer. And Isaiah declared (Isa. 33:22), "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us." Jesus affirmed and proved God to be Father, Truth, Love, Life, Spirit. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science reveals Him as incorporeal, infinite, divine, supreme Mind; Father-Mother; All-in-all; all-power; all-loving; all-wise; Almighty; the divine Ego; Comforter; Supreme Being; Immanuel.†††††††††††††††
As we continue to study the Bible and Science and Health we shall find many more names for Deity, all of which help us to gain a broader and more infinite sense of His being and nature. Through this unfoldment and its application we are enabled to heal ourselves and others of fear, inharmony, and disease. For example, a woman, a student of Christian Science, found herself confronted with what material medicine terms an incurable disease. She did not, however, have a physical diagnosis, which is considered unnecessary and undesirable in Christian Science practice, nor did she resort to any material means. The condition seemed to persist in spite of her earnest prayers. Finally, when seemingly quite desperate, she determined, "From now on, I shall refuse to think about anything but God, that is, His love, His goodness, His allness, and myself in His image and likeness." Said she: "For three days, during every waking moment, I dwelt upon what God is and my relationship to Him. Nothing else was allowed to enter my thought. Suddenly I realized that I was free from pain, other symptoms had also disappeared, and I was completely and permanently healed." In her book "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 210) Mrs. Eddy admonishes her followers: "Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited."
Perhaps you are wondering if we have considered all the names for God. Indeed, we have not. God is infinite; so the names for God are infinite. Now let us consider man.† Can we magnify man? Most assuredly we can. We must magnify man if we are to break the bonds of limitation, the beliefs of the flesh, that is, the erroneous concepts of body that would keep us earthbound. First of all, let us grasp firmly the basic fact concerning man, your true selfhood and mine, set forth in the first chapter of Genesis, where man is said to be made in the image and likeness of God, infinite perfection.
So then man in Christian Science is the precise image of God. He is the exact likeness of his divine Principle. He is the offspring of Soul; the idea of Mind; the witness of Truth; the manifestation of Life; the reflection of Love; the expression of good; the creation of the only creator; the effect of the first cause; the child of his Father-Mother; the loved of Love. In these Christianly scientific names for man, your true being, there is nothing material, finite, sick, sinful, or mortal. Then we must agree that man is not material. He is spiritual.
May I again impress upon you the gratifying, healing, and comforting effects that your magnification of God and man will bestow upon you and others here and now. For example, let us magnify God as Life. What are Life's attributes or qualities? Obviously some of them are existence, activity, freedom, progress, prosperity, immortality, eternality. Logically, then, since you are the manifestation of Life, your qualities are and must be the same. Plainly you can have no opposite qualities, since only that which is true concerning God can be true of man.
Can you conceive of God as Mind? I am sure you can. As the first and only cause, God is Mind. What originates with and emanates from Mind? Ideas. Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 475): "Man is idea, the image of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; . . ." Thus it is plain that God is the Mind of His idea, man. Therefore instead of our using the divine Mind, as it seems, we reflect the divine Mind. Isn't it a glorious relief to awaken from the hypnotic beliefs in a carnal or mortal so-called mind and to realize that you reflect the qualities of the divine Mind? Therefore, you are wise, obedient, intelligent, alert. Knowing this, you express alertness and astuteness in your daily affairs. So when it seems necessary to make decisions, reach conclusions, or when a sense of fear, confusion, or the question of which way to turn arises, then resist through denial, rejection, and repudiation the false suggestions of the human mind that you are inadequate, lack intelligence, or are not equal to the occasion. Then declare calmly but firmly your oneness with the one Mind, God. Maintain the divine fact that God is your real and only Mind and that this is the all-knowing, all-wise Mind, which does not have to be made up or reach a conclusion. It knows all there is to know. Under Mind's direction you can proceed with confidence and assurance.
Here, my friend, let me ask, Are you confronted with the erroneous suggestions of inability to express beauty and refinement, and do grace and learning seem beyond your attainment? It so, then your resort, your comfort, your progress out of these conditions, may be sought in the unfoldment of God as Soul. God is the Soul of man, and Soul is never in matter, in physicality. The physical senses are the material counterfeit of Soul. They do not therefore belong to man and cannot testify concerning him. Man's senses are spiritual; hence he is conscious only of God and himself as God's image The attributes of Soul, namely beauty, graciousness, attractiveness, culture, refinement, and holiness, are yours to claim and be in contradiction and rejection of their materially mental counterfeits which are not in God's plan for you.
God is All-in-all. The allness of God is brought out in understanding Him as Spirit. Jesus declared, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John ). In Christian Science, Spirit is divine substance. It is all good. Plainly, only Spirit can be perfect, omnipresent, omnipotent, all intelligence, omniactive, and eternal. Thus we see that substance is not material, but it is spiritually mental. Divided into two syllables the word "substance" means "understand." Then your originality, your real nature and being, your inspiration and spontaneity, are in Spirit and not in the material senses. So, my friend, hold steadfastly to the fact that God is Spirit and that you are spiritual. Understand this, and you will realize that it is as impossible for you to be material, limited, and mortal as it is for your divine Principle to be so.
"Give us this day our daily bread;
†Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections."
The Psalmist sang, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps. 118:24). The author of Science and Health, in the opening words of its Preface, assures us (p. vii), "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings."
The daily bread to which Jesus referred, rightly understood, is the grace of God - Love's gentle, supporting influence and direction. Mrs. Eddy saw, as did Jesus, that the innate tendencies in individual consciousness to Christliness and goodness secure the divine afflatus, God's loving sustenance. These delicate affections must be fed daily through magnification of God as Life and yourself as the evidence, the unfoldment, of Life, until they appear as your normal, ever-operative, ever-active nature.
Jesus' prayer was not for things
material. He prayed for the things of the Spirit. In Christian Science, prayers
are not for wealth, fur coats, or automobiles, or even for material health. The
Christian Scientist follows his Saviorís admonition: "Take no thought, saying,
What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be
clothed? . . . But seek ye first the
My friend, have you found yourself petitioning the Father for the things which shall be added instead of praying for more spiritual light and unfoldment whereby you may better understand God and His righteousness? Indeed, pray for that Mind to be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Pray for the unselfed love and humility which actuated his every word and deed, then you will feel the grace of God, that holy divine influence, inspiring and directing your human aspirations and efforts into healthy, progressive, and prosperous channels.
Here again one observes how prayer as taught in this Science supersedes the ordinary method of petition. Truly scientific silent prayer is based on an earnest desire for goodness and spirituality. It must be fervent. It must be importunate.† Therefore, it never ceases to affirm God's ever-present love, goodness, and power and man's indestructible relationship to Him. The Christian Scientist persists in this prayer until the specific claims of fear, sin, discouragement, and sickness abate and harmony reigns. Plainly such scientific prayer does not reconcile God to mortals but lifts mortals out of their false beliefs in sin and sickness - belief in a power opposed to God.
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And Love is reflected in love."
Sin is intentionally failing to obey the Commandments or to live up to our Saviorís Sermon on the Mount. Sin is forgiven only when repented of and forsaken, and not otherwise. Reformation must follow repentance. The sins one commits against his fellowman, that is, the hatred, dishonesty, revenge, and injustice one erroneously holds, must be replaced with love, forgiveness, and understanding.
"Love is reflected in love" is a powerful, unchanging law of God. Zealously standing on the bulwark in our Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," living it in daily life, we are assured of the operation of this divine law.
A woman had a physical difficulty. She called on a Christian Science practitioner. During the course of the visit, they prayed the Lord's Prayer together with an understanding of its demonstrable power. When they came to this portion of the prayer just referred to, a family situation that had been disastrous in more ways than one came to her thought. There was an inheritance of house and land which actually should have come to her. However, a sister took it. This caused a breach between them that existed over a number of years. This woman said that though she had prayed the Lord's Prayer daily, it was only at this moment that it came to her what she must do. She said: "With the help of the practitioner I went about to forgive my sister and prayed that she might forgive me. Indeed, I cleared my thinking regarding her, and, believe me, it was no easy task. I refused to admit that God had made anything but perfect man. I denied and repudiated every suggestion of dishonesty, unfairness, injustice, hatred, and revenge. I held that these were lies about man, hence were no part of my sister or me. I replaced them in my thought with the attributes of God which man expresses, namely, love, forgiveness, compassion, righteousness, and purity." She continued: "Within a comparatively short time I realized that the untoward physical condition was healed. In addition I had a letter from my sister acknowledging that the inheritance was rightfully mine and that she was taking legal steps to restore it to me." Solomon saith it well, "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man" (Prov. 27:19).
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death."
Most of you are perhaps already familiar with prevalent religious teachings that maintain that God tempts His children to sin and then punishes them for yielding to the temptations which He Himself has set before them. Webster says, in his definition of "tempt," considering it as "to put to trial or test, is archaic." Also in his definition of "tempter" he offers no intimation that the tempter might be God, but associates it definitely with the devil, which Jesus declared to be "the liar and the father of lies." Temptation through being enticed to do evil is not the divine plan for you and me. The belief that God knows evil and deals in sin or the temptation to have you commit it is a basic error in theology, and Christian Science corrects it. Remember, God knows you only as you really are, as His perfect, spiritual creation, forever unchanged and unfallen. Hence He does not tempt you. On the contrary, He is ever at hand to lovingly and mercifully deliver you from the temptations to sin, to be sick, and die. The worker for God avoids even the appearance of sin; he refuses to be a party to sin or in a party where sin is in evidence.
"For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over all, and All."
[Published in The Stuart (Florida) News, Jan. 19, 1956.]