The 15-minute drive from my home into town winds through the woods and into hilly farmland with a glimpse of a lake. As I drive this familiar route – sometimes being quiet, and sometimes listening to music on the radio – I enjoy the scenery.
Once I was enjoying this pleasant drive when a song came on the radio that I didn’t like. I thought: “Ugh, I’ve got this beautiful day to drive, and I have to listen to this annoying music. And it will probably go through my mind the rest of the day.” It didn’t occur to me until about halfway through the song that I could actually turn the radio off!
While I had to laugh at myself, this incident made me consider how easy it can be to go along with disturbing influences that can take away our mental peace or even negatively affect our physical health, and to entertain such thoughts throughout the day. As with that song, they may begin subtly but can become more aggressive. The good news is that we have the ability to “turn off” these thoughts by turning to God and letting Him fill our consciousness with the unchanging, harmonious spiritual reality that assures our peace and health.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy addressed this idea when she wrote: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 392).
I’ve had several opportunities to see the power of this kind of prayer in action. For example, several years ago I woke with a very uncomfortable sore throat on the first morning of a family trip. It was a beautiful day, and we had a lot of fun activities planned. But this sore throat was a bit like that annoying song in its persistence, and I was concerned it would ruin my day.
I had experienced physical healing many times before by praying. For me, praying about illness often begins with considering my true identity as God’s spiritual image, as described at the beginning of the Bible (see Genesis 1:26, 27). So I took some time that morning to better understand what it meant to be the image of God – spiritual, because God is Spirit. I realized that because everyone’s true nature is the image of God’s perfect wholeness, perfect health was my natural state of being.
This true identity is permanent – not affected by the circumstances around us. And understanding this spiritual fact inspires confidence in God’s care for us, which dispels fear of illness and gives us a powerful basis for rejecting thoughts of contagion, knowing contagion has no foundation in spiritual reality.
Praying on this basis of spiritual reality can also bring to the surface any unhelpful thoughts that perhaps we have let linger, so that we can then work toward healing them. Sure enough, as I prayed that morning, I recalled that several days prior to this, I’d distanced myself from someone else experiencing similar symptoms to what I now faced, so I wouldn’t catch anything.
I realized that simply going along with the thought that sickness is contagious and inevitable hadn’t been the best way to care for this person or myself. But how freeing it is to know that it’s never too late to change our approach. I still had the opportunity to recognize the perfection of God’s creation and perfect health as everyone’s God-given right.
I continued praying along these lines, and by mid-morning I was completely free of the sore throat and all symptoms of illness, and able to freely participate in the day’s activities with my family. The clearer understanding I gained of everyone’s true identity as spiritual and pure, not as mortals vulnerable to illness, has many times helped me to better support others, too.
Actively guarding our thinking against any contagious thoughts – whether thoughts of physical illness or influences of hate or fear – doesn’t mean just ignoring what’s going on around us. On the contrary, it means exercising our inherent awareness of the presence and power of God, and of everyone’s real identity as God’s flawless, spiritual child. And this spiritual awareness not only brings about more healing in our lives, but also makes us ready and able to help meet the needs of humanity through our prayers.