A Christian Science perspective.

As I was flying into Philadelphia one stormy night, the pilot announced that we would have to circle the city for an hour before we could land. Muttered moans broke out among the passengers. I prayed to know that we were all safe in God’s eternal care and that we could be sure our disrupted plans for the evening would be resolved harmoniously.

Moments later, the pilot said: “Somebody back there has done some powerful praying. We just got clearance to land and should be on the ground in a few minutes. Thank you, whoever you are!”

I was sure many of us had prayed, and I smiled, wondering who was taking credit for the good news.

The Bible says that God’s power is everywhere. “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?... Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:23, 24).

Many children grow up thinking of God as a loving parent who stands watching over them and is at their beck and call when problems arise, ready to swoop down from heaven to fix things. My introduction to God began as a toddler with this nightly prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

My sister and I repeated that bedtime prayer for years, despite its scary inference that we might die in our sleep.

When Jesus was asked how to pray, he said: “[W]hen you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7, 8, New King James Version).

Prayer can begin with gratitude that good is all there is. Christian Science holds that God did not create matter, but made man in His image and likeness, pure and perfect. The Bible’s spiritual account of creation concludes, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). That’s a remarkable statement of fact. If all is good and fills all space, as the Bible says, nothing unlike good, or God, can truly exist.

God did not make needy mortals in fragile bodies, left to struggle in a chaotic world of random danger, pleading for help with endless difficulties that He neither caused nor allowed to happen. Instead, our Maker gave us dominion over anything seeking to oppose His perfect rule. 

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, began her major work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” with a chapter titled “Prayer.” In it she wrote, “Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it” (p. 2).

Nothing in God’s perfect kingdom needs improvement. God doesn’t make the calamities that beset human existence nor does He ignore them. Instead, God’s endless flow of angel thoughts washes away our earthly doubts and fears. This stream of divine consciousness is always directly from God to His sons and daughters. As we embrace these holy thoughts that bless and guide us, prayer is profoundly answered.

The chapter on prayer in Science and Health also says: “The ‘divine ear’ is not an auditory nerve. It is the all-hearing and all-knowing Mind, to whom each need of man is always known and by whom it will be supplied” (p. 7).

Prayer is a mental lifting of thought. It puts us in touch with the perfection of being by tapping into the good already present, thereby meeting all human need. As prayer opens these heavenly floodgates, it is heard and answered.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.