Mary Baker Eddy's plan for spiritual self-instruction demands total discipline and thoroughness. See Manual of The Mother Church, Art. IV Sect . 1. Shouldn't we wake up on Monday morning eager and excited to see what our pastor— the Bible, and Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy— will teach us on the given subject? I prefer to read from the books themselves—often hours before dawn—so I make sure the books are marked and ready for study in advance. "Getting set" means assembling supplementary helps—tucking the Journal's "Working with the WORD" into the Bible, checking to see that Bible concordances and commentaries and other translations are nearby, bringing the Church Manual from wherever it is, and ... putting R. C. Trench's Notes on the Parables of Our Lord Notes on the Parables of Our Lord (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1886) . within reach in case references include a parable.
How do I study? I begin by opening my thought up to the full promise to be found within each Lesson—ready and willing to learn, change, and apply what I find. To sharpen this attitude of readiness, I often ask myself these questions: Which aspects of the message in the Golden Text should I watch for in instructions that follow? What should I learn from the attitude and behavior of Bible characters? How do citations in Science and Health illumine the meaning of dramatic Bible incidents? What specific statements from the textbook show me how to handle evil? Am I consciously responding so fully to each healing truth that I understand how to apply it? Am I accepting the naturalness of Christ-healing as Christ Jesus and our Leader practiced it? Will I seize every opportunity to apply what my pastor is teaching me?
Each day, I add new notes that help me condense the message of that section. (A blank page in the Quarterly is provided for this purpose.) And I freely highlight statements in Science and Health that I want to apply to specific issues. This type of searching, self-examining, listening, and reducing the ideas of each section to a few words keeps Lesson-study absorbing, involving, and rewarding for me. The pastor's teaching becomes my very own! I'm better equipped to pray for myself, my home, my city, my country, and the world. Every Lesson establishes my metaphysical standpoint for living: only God and His ideas determine the past, the present, and future.