Prayer that includes others
IT was the day before the Boston Marathon and something was wrong with my knee. I had gone to bed the previous night in discomfort. And now, Sunday morning, I found it painful to walk. I wasn't sure I could even make it to church. I've learned from the Bible, however, that God is present to help and heal us right when we need it. And so in praying to Him, I asked to be shown what I needed to know in order to ``glorify God in [my] body, and in [my] spirit, which are God's.''1 I didn't tell Him what I thought I needed. He already knows all there is to know. Instead I mentally listened, and as I listened, the thought came to pray about the Marathon, to pray for the harmony of an event that was important to my city and that included so many people.
Now, I'm not suggesting that God told me to pray about a marathon. But if we turn to Him in prayer, His ideas of unfailing love will come to us in a way that we can recognize and express in our daily lives. In another place and time the same universal, divine Love will impel prayer for a wife, a husband, a child, a next door neighbor, or for other people in need, wherever they are. And as we respond to divine Love, healing comes to human life.
My prayer included a recognition of certain absolute spiritual truths of God and man. For instance, I saw that since God is the unchanging Principle of the universe, governing man's activity in perfect harmony, no accident could in reality threaten one's expression of God-given qualities. I became convinced that since God, divine Life, is all-powerful, weariness and pain had no God-ordained authority -- or even existence -- to restrict the expression of freedom and strength. I affirmed that God cared for everyone involved in the race, even as He cared for me, because we're all His children, fathered by Love.
It didn't take any longer to pray with these ideas than it takes to read the words. Ten minutes later I dashed several blocks to catch a trolley, running in order to get to church on time, completely healed. Once I had prayed unselfishly, my knee healed instantly. The following week I climbed in painless freedom several flights of stairs at work each day, as was customary. The healing was complete.
There's a potency in prayer that considers the needs and aspirations of others as well as our own. Why? This kind of prayer grows out of loving one's neighbor as oneself -- and that's the second great commandment asserted by Christ Jesus.2 When we love unselfishly, we're reflecting the power of God, divine Love itself, which heals. Obeying Christ's demand to love God and our neighbor, we're living to a degree as our Master lived and becoming receptive to that same healing power he proved time and again.
Jesus never stopped thinking of the welfare of others, even when he had major challenges of his own. He actually met his betrayal with selfless, compassionate prayer for others. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of him, ``His consummate example was for the salvation of us all, but only through doing the works which he did and taught others to do.'' And a few lines after that she says, ``Jesus was unselfish.''3
Whatever challenge we're facing, we can expand our prayer to embrace others yearning for a solution. If we're despairing of finding employment, we can realize that God has created His offspring spiritually whole, including a purpose for each one. This is a far cry from the faulty perception of ourselves and others as frustrated mortals, living apart from our creator, hoping to beat someone else out of a job. The childless woman, too, can recognize the spiritual wholeness of all God's children, including herself. The lonely individual can rejoice in (rather than envy) every example of friendship, every illustration of man's completeness as God's image.
In this way, we begin to express and understand more thoroughly the all-inclusive nature of God's love. And it follows that we'll witness increasingly in our own lives the fruits of this love -- joy, fulfillment, and healing.
1I Corinthians 6:20. 2See Matthew 22:37-39; Leviticus 19:18. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 51.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:4