During the current pandemic, many people around the world have turned to prayer. Research by Jeanet Bentzen, an economist at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, found that internet searches on prayer skyrocketed during the period of time when COVID-19 began to rapidly proliferate around the globe.
But what is the best way to pray? Over several decades, I’ve found “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” to be a wonderful resource, filled with practical ideas about how to pray – and how to pray specifically regarding disease.
The book evolved from the experience of its author, Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), a devoted Christian from New England in the United States and the founder of The Christian Science Monitor. Throughout her life, Eddy faced many painful circumstances, which compelled her to lean heavily on the Bible and its promises of God always being with us. Much of her life was given to learning how to see those promises fulfilled – how Jesus healed so consistently and how to rely on God alone for solutions.
Eddy and her students healed people of many illnesses. She shared much of what she learned about prayer and healing in Science and Health.
The book teaches protection from and healing of all kinds of difficulties based on the understanding that what gives us our individuality is God, who is also infinite Spirit and Love. Beyond all human appearances, God knows us eternally in our real, spiritual substance, which includes spiritual qualities such as joy, strength, intelligence, integrity, and health.
This is a dependable basis for prayer that brings healing, as the first chapter in Science and Health, “Prayer,” brings out. Such prayer is an awakening to the present spiritual reality – what we have and what we are as God’s creation.
In March of this year, having just given my last talk in Nigeria on a speaking tour of three African countries, I began to have a very sore throat. I prayed to see more clearly the innate health that is mine as the spiritual reflection of God. A friend gladly agreed to pray for me as well.
Late that same night, I learned that the Canadian government was asking all Canadians, if they were not exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, to return home while commercial flights were still in operation. I decided to go home to Ottawa as soon as possible. Because my throat was still sore, I asked my friend to continue praying with me.
My circumstances were uncertain. Would I be able to get flights? If so, would I be considered healthy enough to travel? Or would I have to stay where I was for weeks or even months?
I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to travel, but there was no question that I would comply with pandemic regulations in order to protect others. Science and Health teaches that applying the practical ethics of Jesus’ teaching to do to others as you would have them do to you is the very basis of harmony, including health. One can’t really pray effectively without being fair, honest, and thoughtful toward others.
Consequently, I wanted to obey the letter and the spirit of any regulations required by my home country, by the countries through which I passed, and in all airports and airplanes.
I prayerfully affirmed that as God’s pure, spiritual reflection, each of us receives all that we have directly and exclusively from God – just as a ray of sunlight gets everything from its source, not from the other rays. God, who is infinite good, certainly doesn’t cause sickness!
Through prayer, I was able to find and purchase a ticket online that enabled me to leave the next day. I then spent much of the day praying to recognize the true, God-given health of people around the world, including my own.
By the time I started my journey, I was completely free of the sore throat. I followed all pandemic health requirements, including passing through a thermal scanner in Accra, Ghana. It confirmed that my temperature was normal. And when I returned to Canada, I self-isolated for two weeks, as required of all travelers coming into the country.
While this was a modest experience, the Bible-based ideas that fill Science and Health can help us pray effectively in all circumstances. The book says, “Tell the sick that they can meet disease fearlessly, if they only realize that divine Love gives them all power over every physical action and condition” (p. 420). Knowing who and what we are as children of God empowers us to overcome fear and illness.
Whatever we face, we have the most powerful resource of all – God’s ever-present, never-failing love.
Adapted from an article published in the Aug. 10, 2020, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
Editor’s note: As a public service, all the Monitor’s coronavirus coverage is free, including articles from this column. There’s also a special free section of JSH-Online.com on a healing response to the global pandemic. There is no paywall for any of this coverage.