A Christian Science perspective: How does one pray for health?

Many people pray today for health and healing. Years ago my own prayers might have gone something like this: “Dear God, please help me feel better.”

Mary Baker Eddy was a particularly forward-thinking author on this subject. In her textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she wrote, “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (p. 1).

My early prayers had some of the love and faith behind them. But I used to think that God sent disease, for reasons of His own, and that if we prayed, He might change His mind and go easy on us. The God I prayed to in those days was a rather manlike God – aloof, inconsistent, playing favorites. Christian Science introduced me to a God who is all good, and to a Godlike man – made pure and perfect. It taught me that disease is not God’s will. God didn’t create it, doesn’t inflict it, and could never withhold health from His loved children, His own spiritual likeness. The prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Thou [God] art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). Christ Jesus must have understood that perfectly. Whenever a sick person came to him, he quickly healed them. Praying from the basis that God intends only good for His children, and that sickness could never be part of His plan, brings more of that “spiritual understanding of Him” into our prayers.

There can be a big difference between praying to be rid of illness and praying for health. Praying for health focuses not on sickness, but on the things that actually constitute health and wholeness. Health is more than just the absence of sickness; health is a condition of completeness – of everything being right and intact. And you could say that a consciousness that is complete and intact, a healthy consciousness, would include “an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,  – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.” I’ve found that relying on a spiritual understanding of God in my prayers is a powerful way of restoring health.

Some years ago my baby developed a mild case of diaper rash. While it didn’t seem to bother him, for my baby’s benefit I wanted it to be taken care of immediately. Because both my son and I had been healed previously through prayer, I had faith that healing was possible – not through a mere pleading to God for health as I had done years before I was a Christian Scientist, but with the spiritual understanding that brought healing in my years of experience since then. I certainly loved that little guy, and I sure let him know it!

In my prayer for him, I reached for a deep understanding of true health – of what God’s pure eyes were seeing. I acknowledged the presence of health, of spiritual qualities I could see in my child. I prayed to see the spiritual qualities that my son expressed: purity, joy, trust, affection. I knew that these qualities came from God, Spirit, and were what made him truly whole – truly healthy. The rash was quickly healed as a result, and I had gained a better understanding of what health is and how to pray about it.

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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.”

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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.

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