Where to turn when we’re afraid

A Christian Science perspective: The power of prayer frees us from fear.

If fear is looming large, help is available. This help is powerful and sure, because it is God.

"What time I am afraid," prayed the Psalmist, “I will trust in thee.... In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Psalms 56:3, 4). God is infinitely above the flesh – above human circumstances and physical laws. God is Spirit, and Spirit doesn’t share its power with matter or with evil. So they can’t interfere with God’s good purpose.

God’s love constantly guides and protects us. His children are always safe in His care. Why, then, are we afraid sometimes? Basically, fear has two sources: ignorance of our God-given safety, and sin.

The threat of danger, disease, or an unknown future may seem to have triggered our fear. But if we understood their impotence in the face of God’s omnipotence, they wouldn’t make us tremble. The culprit is ignorance. The remedy is prayer.

Prayer, in its deepest sense, acknowledges Spirit’s utter supremacy and man’s dominion as the likeness of Spirit. It affirms the everlasting facts: that Spirit gives man health, security, useful activity; that Spirit is the unfailing fount of all that man needs. Evil, material conditions, being opposites of God, have no relation to Him. They certainly don’t emanate from Spirit, so they don’t share the power – or even the reality – of Spirit.

We won’t comprehend these things if we’re relying on the physical senses to confirm them. Spiritual verities are discerned only through spiritual understanding. Through prayer, our thought is filled with the truth of God and man; then we understand our safety. This not only dissolves the ignorance – and hence the fear; it brings healing to the situation. As Christ Jesus showed, the perception of spiritual reality destroys the discords of material existence. “Ye shall know the truth,” he said, “and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

The other source of fear is sin. By sinning we turn our backs on the one real foundation for security – God – and dive headlong into unreliable materialism. Sinful, materialistic thinking inevitably promotes fear, because it cuts us off from the perception of God’s goodness, nearness, and infallible direction. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes of God, “If living in disobedience to Him, we ought to feel no security, although God is good” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 19).

If sinful ways have brought distress, here too our remedy is prayer, coupled with reformation. Prayer begins to fill our thought with the truth of God’s goodness – and of our real, sinless being as His likeness, inseparable from Him – while reformation brings us into the safe harbor of moral obedience. As we pray in this way, and reform, not only will we feel safe – we’ll be safe. Mrs. Eddy says of God, “despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 150).

Christian Science insists that fear is not something we have to live with. Our real being is safe in God. We need only to understand God and live in obedience to Him. Then we find we’ve never really left His all-embracing care.

Reprinted from the May 6, 1983, issue of The Christian Science Monitor.

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