In an interior design magazine, an advertisement caught my eye: “USE WHAT YOU HAVE. No big deal. Take the terror out of decorating. Talented professional can help you. No job too small or too large. References. Immediate results.”
It was designer Lauri Ward’s ad about using what people already have as a foundation to renew their home décor. For many people, her good idea revolutionized the interior design business. Rearranging for immediate and improved use what is already ours made such good sense, and I thought, That’s an essential principle that Jesus taught.
Speaking of what is already ours through God’s law of abundance, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24, New International Version [NIV]).
Believe that God’s gift of infinite good (abundant supply, perfect health, eternal life) is already ours, and we can make immediate use of it? That’s what Jesus was saying. But it wasn’t until I studied the Christian Science textbook by Mary Baker Eddy that I began to see something of the real meaning of our Master’s message. When I did, it immediately upgraded the way I pray.
In keeping with Jesus’ teaching about divine provision, one of the many statements Mrs. Eddy makes in that textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” is sweet and succinct, and specifically makes the divine and human connection clear: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (p. 494).
This power of divine Love was what Jesus relied upon when he did all that he did to meet human needs. Even today they are often called miracles, but they were actually the natural expression of his absolute faith in God’s unlimited and ever-present provision (see John 14:12). It could be said about Jesus’ works that they were “no big deal” for him. He could take the terror out of any sense of need – lack of health, sustenance, order, or even lack of life. Jesus could help renew anything and anyone. No problem was too small or too large. He could produce immediate results. And he had references!
I know, some say: Really? Is affirming God’s abundant and ready provision really all it takes to be sure prayer will be answered? The Bible says that if not, then we have “asked amiss” (James 4:3).
That stipulation made sense after I paid closer attention to the first lines of Science and Health: “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.” It was that last little phrase, “an unselfed love,” that was mighty thought-provoking.
Instead of self-reliance, unselfed love identifies with divine power and provision. It holds thought in line with God and consciously makes the connection. It is at that sweet spot of spiritual sense where self-assertion is unnecessary. It is trusting God instead of oneself and not because we have to, out of need (Please, Father, I need this and that), but because we want to out of love, and know that we can (Dear Father, I thank You for always meeting my every need). Here, being is unselfed – effortless and complete.
Jesus acted out of a sense of being fully equipped, never out of a sense of lack. We know this because he expressed gratitude out loud, up front. He changed water into wine and raised Lazarus from the dead, effortlessly. He didn’t have to “create” wine, life, or anything, and he consciously knew it.
Another Bible story tells about Jesus feeding 5,000 followers. After a full day of teaching and healing, his disciples suggested the crowd be sent to surrounding villages to buy food. Shocked when Jesus responded, “You give them something to eat,” they reacted: “That would take more than half a year's wages! Are we to go and spend that much?” (Mark 6:37, NIV).
Thinking the source of food was somewhere outside themselves and God, Spirit, the disciples’ view was material. As they grew to understand the Master’s works, they ultimately saw – and we, too, will see – that harmonious life is not about asking for, getting, or getting rid of anything. It is about acknowledging and using what we already have and know as our ever-available, divine provision.
Science and Health explains that the ability Jesus had is ours to claim as well: “It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good” (p. 494). Prayer in line with unselfed love is asking aright and is instantaneously answered. “Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power” (p. 192).