Bringing our prayers to the threat of contagion

Amid reports of contagion, it can seem inevitable for a percentage of us to be vulnerable and in danger. But prayer that encompasses everyone and acknowledges God as the inexhaustible source of health can lift us out of the swirl of fear and be a calming, healing influence.

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The bright banners snapping in the late fall breeze seemed to be effective. Lots of cars were turning in at the drugstore near our home. As I drove past, it occurred to me how easy it is to assume that it’s natural, even inevitable, to come down with contagious illnesses, especially during the winter.

Taking responsibility for our health is important. For many folks, seasonal shots and prescriptions are one approach, and I certainly respect and support those who make that choice. But in my own experience I’ve found that through Christian Science it’s possible to consistently challenge assumptions about getting sick, and that doing so has brought ­more solid and lasting health. For me this has become a defense of prayer that starts from the basis of God as divine Life.

Such prayer can make us aware of a radically different view of our lives and the world around us. This spiritual view is based on an understanding of God, divine Life, as the wholly good provider of harmony throughout His creation, and the source of health rather than sickness, vitality rather than vulnerability. While we might usually think of health as a variable condition of a physical body, it is, in fact, a spiritual quality sourced in God. And it’s a permanent, unwavering quality. It’s sustained by God and maintained in each of us in all seasons and circumstances. And we can prove this in our daily lives in a way that allows us to start feeling that health, not disease, is what’s normal.

We can face down the fear of “catching” something by holding firmly not just to these facts about God, but also to some basic truths about ourselves: for example, that God made us in His very image. So we could never succumb to being less than the exact representation of God, perfect Life itself: spiritual and whole, safe and vital in every season.

This kind of focused, prayerful defense is something we can undertake daily so that our whole concept of life begins to shift. We start to see ourselves more consistently as the likeness of this divine Life – as fundamentally spiritual and invulnerable. This enables us to combat the fear of getting sick and to dispute the widespread assumptions about contagion that come at us.

This is more than mere positive thinking. It’s the kind of prayer Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, attributes to Christ Jesus: “deep and conscientious protests of Truth, – of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 12). That kind of “deep and conscientious” prayer can actually be effective in both preventing and dealing with contagion.

For years, I’d frequently worried about coming down with a cold or the flu during the winter; and sometimes I did. But through a deepening of my own “protests of Truth” and spiritual understanding I’ve been able to counter that fear that contagion is inevitable. By understanding more of God’s power and the impotence of anything unlike God, my seasonal worries have gradually dissolved. And I have been encouraged by the fact that I haven’t experienced any symptoms of seasonal or contagious illness for a number of years now.

Coincidence or good fortune? Actually, I don’t see it that way. I see this newfound freedom as confirming the spiritual fact of our divinely maintained health and wholeness.

What would keep us from recognizing this? I’ve learned that it’s helpful to consider the mental elements that can weigh against our conviction that health really is our natural state of being, and one of those influences is fear. For example, the constant exposure to media coverage about contagious diseases can whip up a frenzy of fear that can indeed have a negative impact on human health. Science and Health speaks clearly to this issue when it says, “Fear is the fountain of sickness” (p. 391).

In light of today’s 24-hour news cycle, it seems clear to me that we can have a positive impact by taking a daily “dose” of the peace and power of individual clarity and spiritual wholeness. Prayer can lift us out of the swirl of fear, and it can be a calming, healing influence in our communities as well.

No matter how widespread a contagion may be – even if it’s encircling the globe – it will never be more powerful than the all-encompassing, inviolate presence of divine Life, embracing each one of us in its safety and care. And our consistent acknowledgment of this fact for everyone, everywhere, makes it possible, right here and now, for us to see evidence that God alone truly does govern and sustain our health.

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