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Are you taking good care of yourself?

- Practice, Practice, Practice

That is what a friend asked me when I was feeling completely overwhelmed in my work. I was just starting out as a Christian Science practitioner, and every call for help felt like a heavyweight responsibility. (Practitioners are dedicated to helping others through prayer. It involves a full-time commitment to be ready and available to pray at any hour.) On the day I called my friend, I had received two early morning requests for prayer within minutes of each other, and I freaked out. I hadn’t really gotten down to praying for the first one before the second call came in. I have to admit that when the friend asked me, “Michelle, are you taking good care of yourself?” I wanted to hit her with the phone! Who was she kidding? Take care of myself? I had people to pray for, beds to make, clothes to wash, and I hadn’t even had time to brush my teeth!

Grumbling, I went into the bathroom to try to pull myself together. As I looked at my desperate face in the mirror, I thought, “I have so much to do. How do I take care of myself?” In a flash, a thought came: “You can take better care of yourself if you are ‘instant in season, out of season’ [see II Timothy 4:2] and if you ‘pray without ceasing’ [see I Thessalonians 5:17]!”

I suddenly realized why I felt so stressed. When I received the first call, I looked at the problem as a terrible condition that my personal prayer was going to handle. I took it on as a responsibility, a weight, and a reality. Not yet feeling up to the job, I dragged that “terrible reality” down the hall to make the bed, figuring I would pray about it in a bit when my chores were done and I could better concentrate. Then the second call came, and I had two “miserable realities” to contend with through prayer.

No wonder I felt sunk!

So I thought about that message to be instant and to pray without ceasing. I realized that, to my sense, to be instant “in season” is to be ready to witness to spiritual reality when the going is smooth and easy. To be instant “out of season” is to be ready to witness to spiritual reality when the going is tough. But the job never changes. To pray without ceasing is to commit to being a perpetual witness to spiritual reality. Spiritual witnessing through prayer is the quickest, easiest, and least burdensome activity in the world when we remember that prayer doesn’t change the reality or facts in a case. It opens us up to the spiritual facts and lets us know immediately why and how it is that all is well. Prayer can be an immediate and effective response to a call for help when we take good care of ourselves by turning straight to God, divine Love, and by taking on a divine perspective that heals. With this clear sense of my job, I was able to treat those two cases successfully. 

The next morning I received ten calls in a row. I couldn’t have imagined that the day before. I might not have survived that the day before! But now I was ready. I was instant and able to treat every case successfully. 

And my teeth did get brushed, and the beds did get made.

Whatever our job, whatever the demands, we can each take good care of ourselves by allowing God to carry each instant of the day.

Here is a great prayer to start the day off being instant:

Take my life, and let it be
     Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
     Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
     At the impulse of Thy love. 

Take my feet, and let them be
     Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
     Always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be
     Filled with messages from Thee. 

Take my every thought, to use
     In the way that Thou shalt choose.
Take my love; O Lord, I pour
     At Thy feet its treasure store.
I am Thine, and I will be
     Ever, only, all for Thee. 

(Frances R. Havergal, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 324, adapt. © CSBD)

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