IT is ironic and often tragic to realize that in a world where malnourishment and starvation cause much suffering, there are people who struggle not to be overwhelmed with too much eating. Whatever the extreme, humanity needs ways to overcome the imbalances of materialism and to find a deeper satisfaction that meets the genuine needs of mankind. Although countless diet plans and weight reduction programs have been devised over the years, most who struggle with a condition of overweight have yet to find a permanent and satisfactory remedy. This can become discouraging, but I've come to see that a normal appetite and weight can be found if we are willing to open our thought to the healing potential of prayer.
Prayer works where dieting fails because it starts from a spiritual basis to bring permanent change to the thinking that is at the root of overeating/overweight problems. When we turn to God in prayer, we allow Him to re-form our thought with truth. For example, the Bible tells us that God gave man dominion over everything on the earth. Understanding this helps us realize that we have dominion over food, not food over us. Knowing that this dominion is God-given helps restore control to our eating.
Until six years ago, I had been trying different methods to lose weight for most of my life, but to no avail. Finally I turned wholeheartedly to prayer. I realized that to focus on the body rather than on the thoughts and motivations that actually governed me was futile. So I began focusing in prayer on the improvement of my thinking -- about God, about others, and about myself. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The body is governed by mind; and mortal mind must be improved, before the body is renewed and harmonious, -- since the physique is simply thought made manifest.''1
One way to improve thought is to pray first when we hunger, rather than immediately turning to food for satisfaction. To listen to God is to discern spiritual truths. These truths in turn enable us to defend ourselves from the errors of belief that would say we are helpless to resist temptation. Christ Jesus tells us in one of the Beatitudes, ``Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.''4 Spiritual man, our genuine identity, is not filled with material food but with spiritual food -- or truth. We know we are making progress when we begin thinking less about food, about matter, and more about God, divine Spirit.
Every temptation to overeat is a signal to pray. Prayer nourishes us with the spiritual food we need. And as we realize that God is the source of all good, our love for Him grows, diminishing our desire for excess food.
It was a challenge for me at first to keep myself from habitually eating without praying first. But as I began to concentrate more on understanding God's goodness all around, and less on food, the temptation to overeat began to disappear. Soon I was down to my normal size, where I have remained.
Prayer takes work, but it is the only way to heal mind and body permanently. The spiritual understanding gained through hungering after righteousness remains ours forever, and its healing impact on our lives and on the world is enduring.
1Miscellaneous Writings, p. 34. 2Matthew 5:6.