'Enable us' - A prayer within the prayer
First published as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
Some two billion Christians know and love and regularly pray the Lord's Prayer. When people pray so often with such well-known words, there's always a temptation to roll right through them to the end. The destination is worthwhile, to say the least.
It's sort of like climbing a familiar mountain trail. Along the way, climbers get occasional peeks at the peak, and many push on just to get there. Yet those in-between lookouts - they're for more than catching a breath and wishfully looking up. They're also for looking outward, horizontally. The view, and where it allows the viewer to go, has a way of moving thought beyond thanks for elevation gain.
Take for example that midpoint line in the prayer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." It's a kind of prayer within the prayer. In those few words, there's no invitation to list grievances or personal desires. As with the Lord's Prayer in its wholeness, "Thy will be done" invites the one praying to acknowledge openly God and all that He's made as real and sacred and discernible.
The joy of pausing at this point, and of going to God in prayer at any time, is that although we may be seeking solace for ourselves, we may find that the view Godward takes us naturally away from private concerns, and outward to that horizontal and inclusive love for others.
The Christian writer and healer Mary Baker Eddy interpreted this line of the Lord's Prayer in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" as "Enable us to know, - as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme" (page 17). It would be hard to pray these words for oneself without gathering up mentally all those who are, in their own ways, seeking God's aid and direction - who are seeking the divine power and supremacy that overwhelm illness or cut through anxiety. And yet inclusive praying always includes the one praying. Real, spiritual generosity leaves no one out of the blessing.
This prayer impels that wider embrace which can bring hope and healing to those beyond our immediate horizon. Consider, for example, the case of someone who has been struggling through the day with cold symptoms. For those whose medicine of choice is spiritual, it's natural to pray for healing. And as the opening line of the Lord's Prayer indicates, effective prayer begins with going to God. Well, God knows nothing about sickness, but everything about love, warmth, health - and immunity.
Many readers of the weekly magazine the Christian Science Sentinel over the years have written accounts of prayer-based physical healing for the "News of Healing" pages. They often describe coming to the point in their prayers when they asked God, "What do I need to know?" Or, "Tell me what to do." In other words, "Enable me to know You and the spiritual creation that You have made and still maintain in perfect order and harmony."
The needed idea or truth is unique to each case. No two individuals or their needs for healing are exactly the same. But in many instances, an overarching theme in readers' reports of healing has been the experience of "waking up" to a divine demand to include all humanity in the blessings being sought through prayer.
As it is in heaven, so it must be throughout all the earth - God truly is omnipotent, supreme, everywhere. The Almighty does not share power with illness or fear. The full truth is that immunity is a universal factor of "God with us," and eventually we'll see that the spiritual reality covers all human needs for immunity - from the common cold to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
In that profound plea, "Enable us," there's also a call to arms. It is immensely encouraging to know that the One who answers that plea also supplies the power necessary to overcome whatever would harm the human family.
I will restore health
unto thee, and I will heal thee
of thy wounds, saith the Lord.