Can unhelpful character traits, such as anger and self-righteousness, be overcome and healed through prayer?
So great is God’s love for all that it operates as an incredible healing and cleansing force when it is welcomed into our thoughts and lives. In fact, the Apostle John declared that God is Love itself (see I John 4:8). And the book of Psalms in the Bible reassures us: “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you” (130:3, 4, New Living Translation) – the meaning of “fear” here including reverence and love.
The Bible and Christian Science teach that God created each of us to bless – to partake of divine goodness and express it toward others. “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, defines “Christ” as “[t]he divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error” (p. 583).
Jesus healed sickness and character flaws on just this basis, with the tenderest mercy and compassion, restoring people not only physically, but also morally, enabling them to be the blessing we were all created to be. When Jesus healed a man who couldn’t walk, he later told him not to sin anymore, or something worse might happen (see John 5:14).
Through Jesus’ healing ministry, he demonstrated everyone’s true nature as the image of God, spiritual and pure and flawless. It was this profound recognition of our true nature, and the God-power behind it, that that effected life-changing healings.
That same Christ presence is with us today to save and heal, to cleanse and restore, changing our lives for the better.
I had an example of this when I was practicing law a number of years ago. One morning I told the manager of a hotel I was working from that I was expecting several important phone calls from clients. He assured me he would ensure the messages were delivered to my room (this was before the days of cell phones).
At 4:00 in the afternoon I suddenly realized I had not received a single message. I went down to the lobby of the hotel only to discover that several clients had indeed been trying to reach me but that their messages hadn’t been delivered.
I found the manager and told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of his management of the hotel! Then I stormed back up to my room.
At that point, a serious physical problem I’d been dealing with became very exacerbated. As I prayed about this – an approach I’d found effective with other difficulties – a clear teaching of the Bible came to mind: “Cease from anger” (Psalms 37:8).
I thought of the anger and self-righteousness that had flared up in me that afternoon. “But I was right!” I thought defensively. But then Jesus’ clear and unequivocal teaching to love others – even our enemies! – came to thought.
Christian Science explains the laws and rules behind the healing ministry of the great Teacher, or Master, Christ Jesus. Science and Health refers to “the destruction of sin and sickness by overcoming the thoughts which produce them, and by understanding the spiritual idea which corrects and destroys them. To reveal this truth was our Master’s mission to all mankind, including the hearts which rejected him” (p. 233).
It occurred to me that anger characterized many of my dealings with people I thought were wrong. This character trait seemed so ingrained in my nature that it felt almost impossible to overcome. And my need was urgent! In heartfelt prayer, I turned to my loving Father-Mother, God, as a small child would go to a parent for help and forgiveness, earnestly desiring that this proclivity for anger be healed forever.
Then a deep feeling of love enveloped me. It was so powerful that I knew it was the healing and saving Christ. I heard these words, as if they were spoken to me: “I don’t see you that way! I see you as My beloved daughter, the perfect expression of My nature – loving, kind, unselfish. You are My reflection! I made you. I love you.”
That evening the physical problem was completely healed, and it did not return. I felt in my heart that my character was also lifted up and purified.
While I am still working to express even more of my true nature as God’s child, the anger was taken out of me to a wonderful degree that night. My interactions with others began more closely patterning the Christlike nature that is the true basis of every one of us as God’s children.
Welcoming the Christ presence, the healing activity of divine Truth and Love, into our lives cleanses us of problems and sins of all kinds. This brings physical healing, too. What joy and freedom this brings!