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Prayer as 'technology'

From The Christian Science Journal - May 30, 2012

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On the surface, prayer and technology may seem worlds apart. But I know people who’ve prayed successfully to get their computer to work or to solve a software problem. Perhaps you yourself have used prayer as a support to technology. Maybe the Internet was down, and you prayed to calm yourself down to do other work. But have you ever thought of prayer as not just a support to technology, but as a kind of “technology” itself? 

The dictionary in my iBook defines technology in part like this: “The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” Usually we think of prayer as addressing God or gods in adoration, in supplication, or in thanksgiving. But what if prayer was the actual application of the understanding of God and of His creation in order to see practical results? Mary Baker Eddy wrote about prayer in these terms in her main work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. 

Beyond test tubes, Bunsen burners, or electron microscopes, Mrs. Eddy understood the term science to refer to a systematized knowledge of a subject that can be learned and studied. And she perceived that God, rather than being nebulous, hidden, or even nonexistent, is actually all-present and “provable” in the life of every sincere seeker. She called this provable, methodical knowledge of God “Christian Science.” We can think of prayer, based on this understanding of God, then, as a kind of “technology”—the practical application of the scientific knowledge of God. 

Eddy felt that the physical senses are unreliable relative to telling us what’s true—something that contemporary physics has certainly confirmed. But we can know what’s  true, in the same way that she did, through spiritual reason, revelation, and demonstration.

For example, two years ago my hard disk crashed. The first night, sleeping was tough. I found myself having to fight off anticipating losing records and work, or at best having to pick up what could be salvaged.

Divine Love is always sending the ideas that we need to prove the presence of harmony.

I had been diligent in backing up files on USB storage devices, so I had the actual files. However, most of my records were in an old workhorse of a program that I had never updated. “Why update it?” I figured. It always worked well for my needs. The problem was that the original program came on three old-fashioned disks, just one generation after floppy disks, and all that I have in my computer is a slot for DVDs and CDs. Without reloading the original program, there was no way to read my stored files.

What did I do? I knew and trusted the “technology” of prayer—the application of the knowledge of God to see practical results. I reasoned that those files represented all of the good that had been provided to my clients, and that good couldn’t be lost. I thought as well that the files represented ideas, and that ideas aren’t stored matter, but exist in God, divine Mind, where they’re always safe and intact. I reasoned that even if I had been unwise in not updating the program that I had used, I couldn’t be penalized since my intentions had only been good. 

The repair shop told me that I could purchase a new hard disk, but they couldn’t retrieve information from the old one. They suggested a specialized service center. There, they said that they might be able to retrieve the information on the hard disk, but that it would take a few weeks and be expensive. I asked them to start the work.

In the meantime, when I found my old business program disks, I called the repair shop to let them know, in case the disks could be useful. The repair shop hadn’t started the work, but said that on the market was an inexpensive device that could read my old program disks and plug into my new computer. And that was the solution—the solution whereby I lost no files and am able to run the same programs.

The “technology” of prayer works not just in solving technology problems but also in bringing solutions to illness, family challenges, relationship difficulties, and so on. It’s based on the understanding of God, divine Love. Divine Love is always sending the ideas that we need to prove the presence of harmony.

Jesus proved the practicality of spirituality. Whether it was by healing a woman with a crooked spine (see Luke 13:11–13), feeding thousands of people beginning with just a few loaves and fishes (see Matthew 14:15–21), or reforming a sinner (see Luke 19:1–10), the Master illustrated perfectly the substantiality of Spirit, God—a God who can be known and understood, and whose ideas are concrete and demonstrable.

Try using prayer as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes”—a divine kind of “technology” that will never become obsolete nor exclude those who can’t afford it. 

Lyle Young serves as a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. He teaches in Ottawa and lives in Boston, where he is a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors.

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