Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to header Skip to footer


From the May 1965 issue of The Christian Science Journal

In the twelfth chapter of the book of Acts is the account of the imprisonment of the Apostle Peter by Herod, the king.

Peter was bound with chains and guarded by four quaternions of soldiers. One night, as he was sleeping between two of the soldiers, a light shone in the prison, and an angel came to him to arouse him from his sleep. "Arise up quickly," it said. Obediently Peter arose, and as he did so his chains fell off. As he went forward following the angel, the great iron gate of the prison opened for him, and he was free.

"Arise up quickly"! Daily, hourly, a similar command comes to us, whatever our prisons may seem to be, whether of pain or poverty or discord of any kind. As students of Christian Science, we must rise up out of all the shackles that we may have forged for ourselves, or that circumstances may seem to have forged for us. We must rise up quickly, not grumbling over the charge to do so, not slowly, sadly, counting the effort, not fearfully leaving what may appear to be the security or the semisecurity of the status quo, but quickly. Then, freed from the impediments of fear and doubt, we can go forward following the angel message of Truth, glorying in our ability to do so.

Peter did not have to see all the steps of his deliverance. He had only to obey the divine command and to take the first step. He could trust God with the rest. When we seem to be chained to beds of pain and grief, we too must obey God's law, take the first step, and willingly, confidently, trust God with the rest.

Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (pp. 390, 391), "Rise in the conscious strength of the spirit of Truth to overthrow the plea of mortal mind, alias matter, arrayed against the supremacy of Spirit." And again on page 393 she says: "Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man."

Human desire, human planning, and human strength are not of themselves enough, but "the strength of Spirit," "the conscious strength of the spirit of Truth," this is amply adequate to meet our every need, whatever that need may be. Herein lay Peter's strength. Herein lies ours.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step," an old Chinese proverb reads. How wonderful to know that we can take that first step, as Peter did; that we can safely go forward in God's care and experience this care in our daily lives—in freedom, health, happiness, and bountiful supply of good. What more glorious pattern of life could there be than this!

After Peter was free, he journeyed on until he came to the house where his friends were gathered together praying for him. He knocked at the gate, and then a strange thing happened. A young woman, Rhoda by name, answered Peter's knock. When she heard his voice, she ran back to tell the others. But they did not believe her.

"Thou art mad," they said to her. Although they had been praying for Peter's release from prison, they could not believe their prayer had been answered.

Nevertheless, as Peter continued to knock, they went out themselves to see. "They were astonished," the Bible tells us, when they saw that it really was Peter. "But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison."

What a glorious occasion that must have been! What an undeniable proof to that little band of cruelly persecuted men and women that nothing is impossible with God! What joy and confidence Peter's release must have brought them! What an enlarged understanding of the power and glory of prayer!

How do we pray? Fearfully, frantically pleading for help to get ourselves or a friend out of a prison of disease or sin? Or do we pray joyfully confident of God's omnipotent, ever-present help? How little those friends of Peter's expected of their prayer! How little or how much do we expect of our prayer? Expectancy of good is an integral part of prayer. Do we, as we pray, have this expectancy, this spiritual conviction, of God's shepherding care for His children?

"Fear thou not," God says to us, "for I am with thee...I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isa. 41:10). This is the Word of God assuring us of His almighty authority and support. Every day is a challenge to us to believe this Word and to demonstrate it.

In her study of the account of Peter's deliverance from prison, a Christian Scientist was deeply impressed with several important points.

(1) The necessity to rise up quickly out of any entangling situation that may be facing one; not to let error grow in consciousness until it seems so devastatingly big that one is frightened by it; not to grow accustomed to it but quickly, immediately, to destroy it. A passage from the book of Nahum helped her immeasurably (1:9), "What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time." An utter end of affliction, not a partial, temporary end!

In the recorded healings of Christ Jesus, the Bible uses the word "immediately" over and over again. There was on the seeker's part no halfway, lingering holding on to pain or sin; there was immediate response to the Saviour's command to rise up—complete trust in the Saviour's prayer and the acceptance of the end of the trouble.

(2) The necessity to take the first step. It may be a very small step, a faltering one, perhaps, but it is a token of our obedience and trust in God. Willingness to take that step gives us the mastery over any frightened belief that we cannot take it or do not know how to take it. "Meet every adverse circumstance as its master," our Leader tells us (Science and Health, p. 419).

(3) The necessity to demand of ourselves a greater acceptance of our infinite, God-given legacy of good. We cannot afford to accept less. With the acceptance of good, and gratitude for it, comes the happy realization that all our way is in God's hands; every forward step of it is an opportunity to bless and be blessed, to love and be loved.

(4) The necessity for a larger and better understanding of prayer. The poet Tennyson wrote,

More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of.

Prayer is always answered. The answer may not be according to what we have planned, but it is according to an infinitely better plan, according to God's divine wisdom and love.

The demand to "arise up quickly" out of old patterns of slavery and fear and to follow the light of Truth applies to each one of us. The door of opportunity to do so is wide open. "I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it," God's Word reads (Rev. 3:8). We can take that important first step forward. We can pray without ceasing. We can acknowledge the victory of good over evil even before a tangible evidence of such a victory is seen. We can acknowledge our freedom from the false claims and chains of evil, for in the presence of all-embracing, infinite good, no evil can exist.

Interested in more more Journal content?

Subscribe to JSH-Online to access The Christian Science Journal, along with the Christian Science Sentinel and The Herald of Christian Science. Get unlimited access to current issues, the searchable archive, podcasts, audio for issues, biographies about Mary Baker Eddy, and more. Already a subscriber? Log in

Subscribe      Try free for 30 days

More in this issue / May 1965


Explore Concord—see where it takes you.

Search the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures