HOW often do we think of prayer as bowing our heads in humble petition to God? Humility is essential to prayer if we are going to hear God's answer. But humility isn't the only element of powerful prayer. It's important that our humility be accompanied by a sense of authority. Let's look at an example. I arose one Saturday morning, planning to plunge into my weekly round of housecleaning and laundry. But I had barely begun when I was hit with abdominal pain and nausea.
As a Christian Scientist I naturally turned to God in my distress. I sat down at my desk and prayed, humbly asking God for help. My humility bore fruit. I felt a clear reassurance of His healing presence. I knew that this illness was not part of His plan for me; that He maintains the harmony of His offspring. I realized that everyone's true selfhood, as the likeness of God, of perfect Spirit, is spiritual and whole, exempt from sickness. Knowing that His law truly governed me, I protested this intrusion upon my God-ordained well-being and claimed for myself my right to be productive and joyful in the day's activities.
But suddenly I realized that in the midst of my prayer I had got up and was heading into the bedroom to lie down. Now, there may not be anything wrong with lying down when one isn't feeling well, but I realized in this situation that my thoughts were saying one thing while my actions were saying quite another. The inclination to lie down indicated a lack of authority in my prayer. My realization of God's care needed the support of authoritative action. I was claiming my right to productivity and joy, but I was simultaneously acting out the reverse.
Well, I never made it to the bed. I turned around, marched myself out to the vacuum cleaner, and plunged into my work. I had chosen to live my prayer with authority.
What was the consequence of supporting humble prayer with authoritative action? Healing. The physical distress disappeared. Absolutely, and with no return. I had chosen to live my prayer.
The Bible exhorts us to ``pray without ceasing.'' 1 Doesn't the prayer that is expressed in our actions as well as our thoughts constitute such unceasing prayer? In a chapter entitled ``Prayer'' in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy2 speaks of this Biblical injunction. She says: ``We must `pray without ceasing.' Such prayer is answered, in so far as we put our desires into practice.'' 3
Living consistently with our prayer is not an exercise of human will. Rather, it is an exercise of the God-given dominion about which the Bible teaches. Christ Jesus' exercise of this dominion brought healing, and so can ours.
In Christian Science one learns that there isn't any question whether God wants His children to be whole. That's how He made us. Our task, then, includes both understanding and living our conviction that His will for us is wholeness. Living with authority what we come to know and understand through humility constitutes effective, unceasing prayer. And such prayer does heal!
1 I Thessalonians 5:17. 2 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3 Science and Health, p. 15. The Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine, contains more articles about God's power to heal. DAILY BIBLE VERSE My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Ephesians 6:10