AS A COLLEGE STUDENT, I traveled to Kenya for a study-abroad program that took me and about 20 other students to some of the most beautiful game parks in the world. Afterward, a friend and I set out on our own to meet the extraordinary African people themselves. We eventually found ourselves in a nearly deserted village by the shoreline of Lake Victoria. It was a gorgeous setting, and I was puzzled why so few people lived there. We soon learned that this region had been plagued by malaria, and many people had been forced to move away.
We'd been traveling through the general area for a few days, and I hadn't given a second thought to the mosquitoes, but suddenly I felt in real danger. Many people who live or travel to Africa take malaria pills to protect themselves from the disease. These drugs are not totally effective, and because I've always relied on Christian Science for my health, I hadn't considered using them. Prayer, as I've come to understand its depth and practicality through my study of the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy's writings, has proved to be not just a wishing game, but a power that is immediately at hand and 100 percent effective. So, when I began to experience the symptoms of malaria during the next few days, it was natural for me to pray.
To be honest, my initial prayers in this case were peppered with panic. I was thousands of miles from home in a rural area that I didn't know well, and as fever began to rise in my body, so did the fear of what I was up against. It seemed like the harder I prayed, the worse I felt. Then, quite out of the blue, I felt the gentle touch of the Christ—God's divine embrace—as I opened to a statement in Science and Health. It came in the form of a simple question Mrs. Eddy posed to readers in the chapter titled "Prayer." She wrote: "The test of all prayer lies in the answer to these questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of this asking? Do we pursue the old selfishness, satisfied with having prayed for something better, though we give no evidence of the sincerity of our requests by living consistently with our prayer?" (p. 9).