The Science behind prayer that heals

A Christian Science perspective: On the scientific prayer that brings healing and harmony.

It can be tempting to see prayer as a potentially futile exercise, a wishful technique or set of hopeful words to try to get through some difficult situation or manage pain – but not necessarily something that leads to practical results. Yet many, including me, have found that prayer can indeed bring tangible healing. Last month, a news article caught my eye when it asked: “Can science explain the reason why people get healed after being prayed for?” The story reported how researchers from Vrije University in Amsterdam are “looking into the science behind healings that occur after prayer.”

Often research into science and prayer relates to how mental states reduce stress or produce other physical changes with positive health effects. But more than 140 years ago, a woman named Mary Baker Eddy dedicated her life to looking deeply into what she believed must be a spiritual law behind the healing works of Christ Jesus. Her inspired search of the Bible culminated in her discovery of what she termed Christian Science, and she published her findings in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” a book that continues to show how we can indeed find healing solutions through scientific prayer.

Wait ... scientific prayer? Yes – prayer based on the spiritual truth of God’s infinite goodness and its expression in all creation. Such prayer enables us to trust that despite the surface appearance that there is only physical cause and effect, the love that God has for each of us is spiritual fact and primal cause.

I was able to apply this divine Science in my prayers for myself when I discovered an abnormal growth on my body. Its location suggested this could be a serious condition. However, as I turned to God in prayer, I felt assured that since there is one almighty God, one supreme good cause, then this condition, although it seemed frightening, simply couldn’t be true about who I really was as God’s good spiritual creation.

My daily prayers became the application of this spiritual truth. I saw more clearly that no matter how serious a problem looks, it doesn’t change the fact of God’s love for us or our loveliness to God. Divine Love doesn’t create or know us as suffering, pained, conflicted mortals, but rather as immortal ideas of its goodness.

From this spiritual viewpoint I began to gain a clearer view of the actual unreality of the not-good growth in light of the reality of good, and the unhelpfulness of any speculation about it. My desire to better feel my inherent wholeness was answered as I saw more fully the truth about my true identity and relation to God as Love’s perfect, spiritual expression. In a very short time, the growth simply dissolved, and hasn’t returned.

On the basis of this central truth of God’s allness, many have found that prayer becomes reliably effective. It lifts thought to a higher standpoint that’s in accord with what God is, knows, and does. Praying from this spiritually scientific standpoint, one starts to find more healing, harmony, and right answers to problems of all kinds.

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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.