Growing up in sunny California, I spent my summers at the swimming pool. A lasting memory of these carefree times is several of us lining up along the edge of the pool with our backs to it and simply falling back into the refreshing water. There was no anxiousness that when I leaned back, the water might not be there. I just knew it would be, and I was delighted every time.
Many times while praying, this image of letting go in childlike anticipation of utter refreshment has come to me, because that's one of the things prayer does; it refreshes us. It purifies our thought.
Expectation is an important part of prayer. It's the pool, or spiritual atmosphere, so to speak, in which healing takes place. A verse in the Bible's book of Psalms directly ties expectation to God: "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him" (Ps. 62:5).
Christ Jesus counseled his disciples about what to expect when he sent them out on a mission to heal: "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.... And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward" (Matt. 10:40, 42).
The expectation of God's goodness, when acknowledged and accepted, brings blessings to the giver and to the receiver. Mary Baker Eddy, a follower of Christ Jesus, who discovered Christian Science in 1866 and established this newspaper in 1908, wrote: "When the destination is desirable, expectation speeds our progress" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 426).
Healing is always a desirable destination. And our prayers for healing are most effective when offered with an open heart and a listening ear – when we are expecting them to be heard and expecting divinely inspired answers to come to us.
An account in the book of Acts brings out the expectation of the healer and the patient. The healers in this case were Peter and John – two of Jesus' disciples – and the patient was a man who was lame, sitting outside the temple doors, looking at the two approaching apostles.
The account puts it: "He gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them." Now it doesn't say what he was expecting, but because people with deformities were not allowed into the temples, they sat outside around the doors, often pitifully begging. Peter told the man that he didn't have anything material to give him – no silver or gold. But he implied that he did have something else to give him, and pronounced, "Such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."
The man got up immediately, healed, and then they all walked into the temple, praising God (see Acts 3:1-8).
This tender account epitomizes the expectant, healing touch of the Christ, – God's caring, healing love made known to each of us. The apostles didn't avoid the opportunity to lift this man's life, and the man clearly was willing to receive God's provision of good for him, and was open to whatever way it might come.
Many years ago I was immobilized when an accident fractured several vertebrae in my back. I was given an uncertain medical prognosis. As I had done up until that point in my life, I prayed, and also engaged a Christian Science practitioner – an experienced spiritual healer – to pray for me.
Within a few days I was walking, and within weeks I was skiing. I've never had any sort of back trouble. What has remained most vivid though was the palpably joyful and easy atmosphere in my home at the time. We all expected complete healing from God, divine Love.
That healing touch is available to each one of us, and it's as restorative as falling back into a refreshing pool on a summer's day.