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The embrace of selfless prayer

From the May 1999 issue of The Christian Science Journal

It Was the Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, and I had been praying to follow Mary Baker Eddy's directive "The prayers in Christian Science churches shall be offered for the congregations collectively and exclusively." Manual of The Mother Church, Art. VIII, Sect. 5 As I waited for the meeting to begin, the words "all sweet-smelling within and without" (as unusual as they may seem) came to thought.

Watching this congregation, I felt embraced by active love for the healing mission we shared. And with the idea of God's congregation being "all sweet-smelling within and without," I was impelled in prayer to accept a deeper awareness of God as the only Mind, the only presence. Those words seemed to say that we were washed in the sweet fragrance of innocence and joy—a resounding joy that God, divine Love, cares for all of His grand ideas and that all of His ideas are grand. I was confident that my prayers and the prayers of everyone there were bringing healing to that meeting.

The choice to be obedient to the above-quoted By-Law about our prayers at church services has required me to understand better the power of Church as a divine idea. Years before, the concept of prayer for the congregations "collectively and exclusively" seemed disturbing to me. I think I felt the church service was for each of us individually, and I looked for personal gain by going to church. I certainly wasn't thinking of it as an active time. Also, invariably when I settled in for a church service, my stomach got so upset that it was difficult to pray even for myself. You could say I missed the whole point of the healing purpose of the service. Not only was I not praying for the congregation, I wasn't being healed.

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