This article title is from 19th-century poet, lecturer, and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s quite an insightful perspective, isn’t it? To consider that we’re really not about what we look like, what we eat, what we wear, or what our backgrounds may be, but that we are what, all day long, we think!
No doubt it makes sense to devote ample effort to watching and sincerely improving each of our thoughts. Unfortunately, the busier our societies become, and the more we focus on material pursuits, the more we end up effectively neglecting our inner, weightier reflections. Eager for a shortcut to resolve issues quickly, we may abandon great opportunities that lie within – opportunities to think deeply, and even pray.
Prayer often starts with an acknowledgment of God’s loving presence. God, who Christian Science teaches is divine Mind, is completely good, is in authority, and is overflowing with love and inspiring thoughts. Far beyond the mythological muse of classical times, divine Mind is always an ever-active presence and infinite intelligence.
Christ Jesus, who healed so many people, recognized that his inspiration came exclusively from the divine Mind, God. He said, “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:24).
As Jesus taught, we, too, can listen for God’s thought-transforming inspiration in prayer. Effective prayer certainly goes significantly beyond just positive thinking. It’s responding to and embracing God’s illuminating thoughts that transforms the quality of our thinking and our lives.
In an invaluable book for learning about thought and prayer, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” author Mary Baker Eddy explains the divine Science of Christ – and writes, “The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind” (p. 162).
It’s encouraging how being quiet and listening mentally to God can seriously transform thought, and can even beautifully protect us and cure our ills.
Here is one example of how listening for and yielding to the thoughts of divine Mind can transform the quality of one’s thinking and bring healing protection. When I was in school, the girl I was dating became ill. She told me that everyone in her family had been sick with the flu. Since she was my girlfriend, we spent a lot of time together. Her father mentioned how he’d been thinking that I was surely next in line to become ill.
On my way home from her house, I decided to pray about this. What came to my mind was the idea that all true thought really comes only from divine Mind. These thoughts are not of sickness or pain, but of peace and health. This delightful verse in the Bible puts it this way: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I found great comfort in the understanding that God, who creates all of us spiritually and perfect, gives us only health and peace. This meant to me that Mind’s spiritual creations could never truly be affected by material conditions.
Then, this very wonderful, inspired thought from God dawned on me: Not only are Mind’s spiritual creations exempt from disease, but Mind’s creations are also exempt from even the thinking that predicts disease! I didn’t have to go along with the thought that I would be sick. As I accepted this inspiring truth, I felt deeply moved by God’s love. My fear fell away, and I never did become ill.
This, along with many other healing experiences, goes to show how the thoughts that God thinks toward us – thoughts of wholeness, abundance, ability, and purity – have healing power.
As we move through our days, it’s quite enjoyable and fulfilling to prayerfully watch the quality of our thinking. As we do, we can wisely and calmly approach the day as the Bible counsels in Philippians 4:8: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”