A FRIEND talked almost more to himself than to me. His outdoor business had fallen prey to bad weather. He was worried about a family disagreement. To make matters worse, an accident the day before had left him with a painful limp. ``Have you ever had times when everything seems against you?'' he quietly asked. Our exchanges are usually simple and brief -- just enough to give us both more to think about. My friend is someone who longs to know more about spiritual things. His love for God is very real. And Christian Science teaches that God's love for us is unfailing. Out of the depths of her own experience, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, could write, ``My heavenly Father will never leave me comfortless, in the amplitude of His love; coming nearer in my need, more tenderly to save and bless.''1
It's often during our most difficult times that our love for God is felt the most deeply in us. And the sheer staying power of that love eventually makes the transience of hard times stand out in stark contrast. The fact is, our love for God not only outlasts all inharmony but destroys it, because our love for God is always the result of God's love for us.
I'm reminded of a valuable illustration about not being overwhelmed by the size or the number of the difficulties confronting us. The lesson came from a high-school basketball game. It appeared as if there had been some unfortunate mistake in the pairings. One team looked at least two grades younger than the other -- and half the size. But the dismay was short-lived. The ``little guys'' grabbed the first jump ball and thereafter virtually controlled the game. Actually their smallest player did. He amazed the crowd with shots from every corner of the court. I couldn't help feeling he must have learned well to concentrate less on the size of the opposition and more on making the shots.
The same could be said for the prayers we pray when ``everything's against us.'' The more we persist in praying, the more inevitably we come to trust prayer and feel the power of God's love. We begin to see how little prayer has to do with our own efforts and how much it has to do with God's love for us. Granted, it's not always easy to keep that straight. But it's crucial to understanding why prayer is always more powerful than the challenges we face. We can pray with the conviction that divine Love -- being infinite -- destroys whatever is unlike itself. Such prayer leaves us feeling the all-goodness of God.
Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks to effective prayer is that it's sometimes viewed as an ``SOS system.'' We get tricked into thinking that we pray ``down here'' to send prayer ``up'' to God -- in the face of huge barriers and obstacles. Should the prayers ``get through,'' we wonder if God's help can get back to us past the same obstructions! But thank goodness prayer doesn't work that way!
Learning to pray as Christ Jesus taught is to learn that we never pray alone. Prayer is the evidence, or the outcome, of God with us. Our prayer might begin by asking God for help or by ``holding on'' to well-tried verses of Scripture. But, in any case, it is actually the outcome of God's revealing His ideas -- His power -- to us. Prayer is the manifestation of spiritual law. It is the manifestation of divine power, not human will. It is not some frail human effort but the persistent and unfailing allness of God, divine Love, making itself known to human consciousness.
Some years ago I began to experience numbness in one arm and hand. It was disconcerting to say the least. But what amazed me at the time -- and what still stands out to me today when I think about this healing -- was how spiritual truth was more persistent in my thought than the fear of the physical problem.
From my study of Christian Science, I had begun to understand the Biblical phrase ``the arm of the Lord'' to mean God's spiritual, or moral, strength and power. During the time it took for the numbness to be completely healed, that phrase -- and the spiritual insights it conveys -- stayed with me with noticeable persistence. I began to see how little strength had to do with physical structure and how much it had to do with morality and spirituality. The very persistence in my thought of this description of strength came to mean to me that such spiritual strength is never absent but is a permanent part of man's spiritual being. It is our dominion -- a spiritual resilience that keeps us from giving up and giving in.
That healing took place over six years ago, but the spiritual lessons I learned from it have never stopped. That, along with many other healings, has firmly established my conviction of the power of prayer to aid us and heal us -- to deeply reveal God's love for us.
1Miscellaneous Writings, p. 249.
Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel. BIBLE VERSE: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.... Beloved, now are we the sons of God.
I John 3:1, 2