"My prayer was answered. I badly needed healing, and relief came soon after I turned to God and asked Him to help me." Such testimony to God's care for us and His readiness to solve our problems is encouraging. It's often voiced by people who have learned the nature of God and how practical it is to trust Him. But for some others it raises questions.
Exactly what is prayer? How does one pray effectively? Why and how does prayer to God, who is divine Spirit, operate to meet a material need?
Some people say they pray, but their prayer, though fervent, is not always effective in solving problems or healing disease. They want to know where they go wrong, and what more they can do to get better results.
Christ Jesus taught his followers how to pray. He gave a clear outline of effective prayer when he gave them what we now know as the Lord's Prayer (see Matthew 6:9 -- 13).
This prayer turns one to wholehearted acknowledgment of God as the creative Father and Mother of all. It affirms that God's realm is ever present -- the kingdom of heaven, in which divine Love reigns with undeniable and everlasting power, and all God's creation lives harmoniously. The Lord's Prayer leads up to approach God humbly. It shows that the understanding of the truth of God's creation, when we take possession of it, releases us from the beliefs of mortal thinking. In turn, this correction of thought with truth disarms discord and brings out more of the original harmony of Spirit's universe.
Christ Jesus explained his own method of healing through prayer when he said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." n1 The Master's prayer was truth-knowing in the profoundest sense. He knew that God's offspring are perfect, even as their Father is perfect. This truth-knowing healed.
n1 John 8:32.
Christian Science explains the divine healing method in contemporary terms. Its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m pp. 476-477.
Armed with the certainty of the Father's goodness, the Master faced the claims of disease and rebuked them, thereby releasing those who seemed to be their victims. He destroyed the belief of discord on this basis of God's allness and His law of good. Then, when the belief was replaced by Christly understanding, healing occurred.
Healing results were, in fact, inevitable, and they are now when some evil thought or false belief is replaced by Truth. Matter is not in itself substantial or self-acting. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Christian Science explains all cause and effect as mental, not physical." And she continues farther on, "Science shows that what is termed matterm is but the subjective state of what is termed by the author mortal mind."m n3 Therefore, when mortal thought is corrected in any instance of discord through the prayer that leads to the understanding of Truth, and one is convinced of the presence of harmony according to God's will, the outward manifestation must be of health and completeness rather than of disease and lack. Healing must occur.
n3 ibid.,m p. 114.
And this healing is permanent. The Lord's Prayer, according to the Gospel of Matthew, ends with the affirmation of God's all-inclusive omnipotence: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever." n4
n4 Matthew 6:13.
This is the eternal truth, which is established from the beginning and endures forever. When, through prayer, a particular false belief yields to the understanding of this truth, it is destroyed and can no longer produce its phenomena. The fact that God is All and governs all things exerts itself in that situation, and health is restored. Then we can know that the power and glory of divine Spirit have in some measure been seen and acknowledged, and in that particular circumstance they can never again be obscured.