Have you ever noticed that time away from work can fail to give the refreshment and renewal you had anticipated? I’ve experienced this phenomenon after both physically active and more sedentary time off. I’ve also returned from both kinds feeling refreshed.
What made the difference? For me, it was prayer.
My job requires me to be on call 24 hours a day, every day. So some years ago when my family and I left on a beach trip, I was really looking forward to some downtime.
As we drove, I noticed a bit of pain on the inside of my mouth – a small sore spot. Nothing major, I reasoned. I have had healings through prayer all of my life, so it was normal for me to turn to God in prayer whenever I had a need. I’ve come to think of prayer as communion with God, good. Being more conscious of God’s allness, I’ve found, empowers us to experience more of God’s harmony in our lives.
But since praying for myself seemed like work, and I wasn’t going to work on my vacation, I ignored the discomfort in my mouth. And that’s where things stayed all week.
We had a great time, but as we were heading home I felt exhausted. I wasn’t looking forward to going back to the intensive demands of my job. We had an all-night drive ahead, and my mouth still hurt.
About 2 a.m., I thought, “This is ridiculous. You have nothing else to do but think, so you might as well pray for yourself.”
I love to turn to God, but for several years prior to this experience, I had been praying continually for my family, my job, my church, my community. Having come to equate prayer with work, I’d avoided praying for myself, instead accepting the discomfort all week. Finally, on that drive home, it seemed silly not to take advantage of the quiet time to find the freedom that has always come when I’ve drawn close to God.
There’s nothing that makes me feel more joyous, rested, and alive than feeling close to God. So my prayers that night began with gratitude for God, for all the healings I’d ever had, which included flu and cold symptoms, swollen glands, broken bones, pulled muscles, difficult relationships, financial concerns, and more. I also felt grateful for all the messages of encouragement and love I’d ever received from God. I listened for God’s inspiration right there in the dark as we drove along.
What I heard was a profound assurance that prayer was not a burden. It was not something I had to use to get God to do something for me. It was really a way to enjoy seeing what God, good, had already done and is always doing – that is, a lens through which to see the goodness of God magnified.
No more than 30 minutes had gone by when I realized that the sore in my mouth was totally healed. I had to laugh at myself for thinking of prayer as a burden while enduring this discomfort all week. I felt overjoyed and rejuvenated all the rest of the night’s drive. And I cheerfully put in a full day’s work when we arrived home. I couldn’t wait to apply what I’d learned about healing and prayer to my job, family, and community activities.
This experience helped me realize that restfulness doesn’t depend on how much sleep we’ve gotten or how busy we are, but is really a natural, spiritual state. Our very being, our true nature, is the expression of the energy and harmony of God, the infinite source of all effortless cause and effect. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “God rests in action. Imparting has not impoverished, can never impoverish, the divine Mind. No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science. The highest and sweetest rest, even from a human standpoint, is in holy work” (pp. 519-520).
At the beach, at home, or at school, letting God inspire our thoughts and actions rests, refreshes, and heals us.
Adapted from an article published in the Jan. 29, 2001, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.