Is Prayer Enough?
WHEN I was growing up I was often asked questions like ``But what would you do if you were really physically hurt?'' After all, my parents didn't normally take us to a doctor, and expecting spiritual healing didn't seem like enough to some of my friends. I am a Christian Scientist, and while I didn't always have an answer then to explain why our family relied so fully on prayer, I've thought about it a lot since. Real healing, real spiritual wholeness, brings deep-down spiritual regeneration and reformation that draws us closer to God. This experience comes through prayer, which shows that God is not distant. We can come to know Him, as the Bible assures us: ``Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.''1
What happens when we ``draw nigh to God''? Physical healing is one part of it. But physical change doesn't explain how such healing happens. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Healing physical sickness is the smallest part of Christian Science. It is only the bugle-call to thought and action, in the higher range of infinite goodness.''2
Healing is a natural outcome of learning more of God, Spirit, and of man's likeness to Him as His spiritual idea. The more clearly we understand that our life and well-being are inseparable from God and His love and presence, the more reasonable it is for physical ills and inharmonies to give way to the active spiritual life that is close to God. Obviously, just asserting that man is God's child and can be healed through prayer isn't nearly enough. We don't simply drop off mortality and its ills with a word or even with strong religious beliefs. Yet each time we understand a little more of what God is -- a little more of His omnipotent goodness and omnipresent care for His children -- we draw closer to Him, closer to the sinless, spiritual reality that is man's genuine heritage.
Well, then, why not pray for God to look after our spiritual needs (the healing of sin) and let the physician do what he can for the body (the healing of sickness)? That's a good question. Most physicians, at least the ones I've known, are profoundly caring people who spare no effort to help and comfort others, often at great personal sacrifice. I admire that. When we're trusting God with all our heart, however, we begin to recognize that man is fundamentally spiritual and receptive to God's love and care. So the healing of sickness is not so much a question of adjusting a physical body as it is one of understanding man's wholly spiritual nature. This brings lasting change in our physical health and well-being through spiritual regeneration.
Trusting our spiritual well-being to God, however, doesn't require us to ``tough out'' painful illnesses or injuries. The physical healing follows naturally from our trust in God.
I remember one incident from my childhood where trusting God was so natural that I was healed very quickly. My brother and sister and I had been kicking a ball around in the backyard. It was summer and we were barefoot. The ball came to rest on a concrete block, and in the heat of the game I rushed up to the ball and kicked pretty hard. But I missed the ball and hit the partially buried, and solidly fixed, concrete block instead.
Wow! I didn't exactly see stars, but pretty close. I'd been accustomed to praying for as long as I could remember, though, so I didn't even go inside to tell my mother. She found out about the injury that evening when I was trying on shoes. My mother didn't say much, but she was praying with me. Within a day my foot was healed.
Yes, I ``just prayed.'' But it was really far more than enough.
1James 4:8. 2Rudimental Divine Science, p. 2.