Prayer can purify our atmosphere

WE hear much today about cleaning up the physical environment, protecting it from pollution. It's vital that mental pollution be eliminated as well. For instance, the atmosphere at the shop where I work part time steadily got worse. Several workers discussed their immoral lives and often used vulgar language and told off-color jokes. Many customers were offended and left. I too was uneasy in this atmosphere and wondered what to do. As prayer, rooted in an understanding of God, has always been an important part of my life, I realized that here was another opportunity to pray--not just to petition God for help but to understand His will better, to listen for His direction, and to be willing to obey. I had to put aside self-will and self-righteousness and not have any preconceived ideas as to the outcome. I was willing to resign from the job or to stay, whatever prayer revealed. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christia n Science, writes, ``Never breathe an immoral atmosphere, unless in the attempt to purify it.'' 1 Purifying my own thought became my number one job. I needed to perceive the true selfhood of each employee as a child of God, influenced and controlled only by God--by Soul, which is a term for Deity implied in the Bible. Soul includes such divine qualities as purity, beauty, joy, harmony, and satisfaction. So man, as the image of God, includes these qualities, because he's the very expression of the divine nature. And this can be proved. I had to deny the belief that the supposed opposite of Soul, which St. Paul calls the ``carnal mind,'' had power or intelligence to control anyone's thoughts, actions, or speech. The study of Christian Science, in harmony with the Bible, enables us to learn to distinguish between the man God created, who is pure and upright, and the false concept of man as a sinful mortal, a descendant of Adam. We come to realize that although we seem to be physical, finite beings, a mixture of good and evil, the actual and only self hood of man reflects God's nature as perfect Spirit. Christ Jesus, with his great love for all mankind, didn't condemn man, but he did condemn sin, and through his understanding of its powerlessness healed individuals of their desire for it. Of the adulterous woman he asked, ``Hath no man condemned thee?'' She responded, ``No man, Lord,'' and he said, ``Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.'' 2 On one occasion the Master passed unharmed through an unruly mob intent on throwing him over the edge of a hill.3 Clearly, Jesus was conscious of the ab solute supremacy of good. So I saw that my duty was not to judge others but to keep my own consciousness free of polluted thinking and in harmony with the purity of Christ, Truth. This cultivated spiritual sense could witness only the harmony characteristic of God's creation. I could be exempt from and untouched by unbridled, sensuous conversation. After persisting along this line of prayer for several weeks, the worst offender left of his own accord. Shortly, the other two left to start their own business. The people hired to replace them live responsible and moral lives. The atmosphere has changed dramatically and new customers have come. A much-loved hymn states: In atmosphere of Love divine, We live, and move, and breathe; Though mortal eyes may see it not, 'Tis sense that would deceive.4 Divine Love is always available to bless the situation, and we can call upon its power in humble prayer. Despite appearances, each one is truly the image of Love. Understanding this, we can help keep the atmosphere around us, wherever we are, purer and freer, filled with the goodness of God's love. 1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 452. 2 John 8:10, 11. 3 See Luke 4:28-30. 4 Christian Science Hymnal, No. 144.{et

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