Moving to a remote corner of the Canadian plains nearly a century ago, my grandmother became a pioneer. Her new life was laborious. Daily chores – chopping wood, carrying water, cooking for a large threshing crew – called for toughness, persistence, and courage. And she rose to the challenge.
Then her infant daughter became ill. The attending doctor could do nothing for the child, and gently prepared the young parents for the baby's imminent death.
My grandmother was not a churchgoer. But she had unquestioning faith in God's goodness and refused to believe that a loving Creator would take her little girl from her. Her conviction was a prayer – a firm "no" to the verdict of loss and sorrow, a trusting outreach to God's saving power. To the amazement of the physician, the baby – my mother – recovered quickly and completely.
Pioneering qualities – spiritual ones – were central to this healing. When circumstances are frightening or overwhelming, it takes spiritual strength to turn, perhaps for the first time, to a divine source for information about our well-being. To act on an inner desire to experience God's, Spirit's, supremacy over material conditions.
As my grandmother found, it's God's very purpose and pleasure to care for His creation.
The Bible puts it this way: "Humble yourselves ... under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (I Peter 5:6, 7). Pioneering prayers come to the rescue when we're tempted to give in to fear and despair. They focus thought on God's omnipotence and love, bolstering our stand and replacing anguish with the expectation of good.
This kind of resolve is not willpower. Human will is a product of the human mind, often battling to change a situation or person. Spiritual resolve identifies good as innately divine. It quiets emotion, freeing thought to ponder the changeless, tender presence of infinite Love.
Sometimes the choice between trying to force an outcome – even a greatly desired one – and praying to understand that every good effect is safe in the divine Mind seems hard to make. So it's comforting to know that even the slightest openness to God's nature as all-good and all-power unfailingly deepens into the confidence in Him needed for healing. Then it becomes natural to reject anything hurtful, confusing, or sad – anything unlike Him – and to be fully expectant of restoration.
In her groundbreaking work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought" (p. 495). And she explained how healing necessarily excludes will: "Christian Science silences human will, quiets fear with Truth and Love, and illustrates the unlabored motion of the divine energy in healing the sick" (p. 445).
When my grandmother turned to God all those years ago, she made the choice described by Moses to his followers: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live" (Deut. 30:19).
She decided to worship God as Life, thus rejecting a conventional belief that it might be His will that her child die. Girding her prayer with the pioneering qualities of toughness, persistence, and courage, she proved God's will to be good – and saved her baby.
In the following years, both women became long-standing spiritual healers – extending the blessings of those pioneer qualities well beyond the Canadian plains and through most of that century. The tools of prayer they used are available, now and throughout the future, for every explorer of divine reality and its promises.