Among the many things I learned in a Christian Science Sunday School when I was a child was Mary Baker Eddy’s answer to the question “What is the scientific statement of being?” It begins: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 468). After each Sunday School session, the superintendent read the full statement, which I found to be a reliable companion and ready aid, an inspiring prayer leading to spiritual growth.
But as I matured and started to delve deeper into the significance of the individual terms that constitute the statement, there was one word that rubbed me the wrong way: “is.” “Couldn’t there be a more exciting ‘action word’ for truths that are so revolutionary?” I wondered. I even toyed with finding other words to replace that little term. Not surprisingly, I could not come up with anything better! The more I studied this statement, the more I saw the deep significance of the concept of present being.
After all, when God revealed Himself to Moses, He revealed Himself as present being, or “I am” (see Exodus 3:1–15). How significant that God showed Himself as all-presence, always in action, not just a very, very big “thing.” Sometimes I’m tempted to limit my prayers by appealing to a divine something, or asking for some thing. But the prayers that I’ve seen to be most effective are the ones that bring my thought into accord with what truly is—prayers that are based in a humble acknowledgment of the ever-operative presence of God. Contemplating God as actual, active being, or I am, vitalizes and expands my understanding of Deity; and it often brings swifter healing. It also helps me clarify my identity—not as an independent “I,” or separate thing, but as the spiritual expression of that infinite, active presence, which is God.