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Asking for help

From the October 2022 issue of The Christian Science Journal

What a different story the Gospels would tell if people had been reluctant to ask Jesus for his help. We wouldn’t know about the woman who suffered 12 long years with hemorrhaging if she hadn’t struggled through a crowd to reach Jesus and find healing. Nor would we know of the outcast “full of leprosy,” if he had not cried out to Jesus, on his knees saying, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Luke 5:12). At the Master’s touch, he was immediately well, and freed from living out his days in a leper colony.

It was not a personal power these people reached for or received, whether they knew it or not. It was the healing Christ, the spiritual understanding of God that Jesus embodied, ever active and ever available to bring restoration and redemption. This power of Christ, God’s divine message to humanity, is ever present in consciousness, enabling anyone to seek and find healing help in God, who is Love.

In Christian Science, one learns how to trustingly turn to this divine Love, to better understand, feel, and know the reality of the divine, in everyday living, as well as in times of particular need. This often leads to speedy and complete healing. Yet, this result can sometimes seem a high aspiration, and there are times when our own spiritual efforts may not prove quickly successful. Then we can discover that it’s not only all right to ask for spiritual aid from those more experienced in this Science, it’s provided for and encouraged. Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, not only for companionship but that each might serve as a pray-er for the other, should there be a need. 

In the textbook of the Science of Christ, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, provides this tenderhearted guidance to modern-day followers of Jesus: “If students do not readily heal themselves, they should early call an experienced Christian Scientist to aid them. If they are unwilling to do this for themselves, they need only to know that error cannot produce this unnatural reluctance” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 420). 

Like bringing a cup of cold water to someone hot and weary, or a blanket when one is cold, the called-upon spiritual helper and healer—whether a spouse or friend, a fellow church member, or a publicly advertising practitioner—ushers into a scene the light of spiritual truth and love. This heartens the one struggling, often just by another being at hand and agreeing to pray. The experienced Christian Scientist’s clear, spiritually scientific Truth-knowing can often rapidly part the clouds of fear and discouragement and so bring progress or even full healing right away.

There are many subtle ways in which “unnatural reluctance” to seeking help in healing might show itself. Mortal assumptions argue that we won’t grow spiritually or gain in our understanding of Science if we have prayer from another. But selfless spiritual aid given blesses both healer and patient, with a better understanding of God. It isn’t knowledge dispensed by one person to another, so it isn’t possible that the helper should gain while the apparently needful one loses. In truth, the whole human family grows spiritually through such aid given and received, as Science and Health explains: “. . . the world feels the alterative effect of truth through every pore” (p. 224). 

It’s also not uncommon for Christian Scientists to feel they should heal themselves in every case. This may be based on pride or a doubting that results in passivity toward the offer of help, or a fear that something might be uncovered that we would rather not be known. But such misgivings and resistance are not truly our thoughts, and we can happily relinquish them for the spiritual growth that brings actual joy instead. 

Also, where would the Christian community be—and for what purpose—if we weren’t to help one another at times? Yes, we pray for ourselves daily and work for ourselves first when a need arises. But if the healing isn’t readily seen, then isn’t it the love of Love that says, “Be humble and accept this gift of grace from Me through your spiritual brother or sister; let them help you, and be well and whole”? Suffering is a mistake, wrong in every instance. It is not something we’re supposed to learn to live with, or a God-sent challenge to strengthen our faith or test our love for Him.

We might also find ourselves believing that there is no benefit to asking for prayerful help since some ailments just take time to heal—or it’s already too late. But our Master showed that this is untrue. He healed many who had been ill for years just as immediately as he restored the ear of the high priest’s servant in the garden of Gethsemane (see Luke 22:47–51). While time may pass in the course of a healing, healing doesn’t require time. 

Once I dealt repeatedly with a painful internal condition that was often incapacitating. I was more than familiar with this “unnatural reluctance” to ask for help—disguised as a combination of embarrassment, guilt (that I should be able to heal this myself), and a belief that I would be deprived of spiritual growth. I finally became so desperate for relief that I did contact a practitioner, and while the symptoms didn’t abate instantly, there was an immediate shift in my thought.

Through the practitioner’s work, I quickly grasped that I was not, in fact, dealing with a material condition. It was an entirely mental suggestion—a mistaken sense of myself as a human being seeking divine intervention. Though the practitioner and I spoke only twice, through her prayer my fear quickly fell away and my own prayer took wing. (We are, of course, always benefited by continuing to pray while having treatment from another.) I began to really understand Christian Science, to accept that God is all good, infinite Love, and Life itself—and to realize that I must truly be healthy and innocent and at peace as God’s child. As I continued to pray from this vantage point, I was soon completely well.

It is the fundamentally mental nature of every ill we encounter that makes healing not only possible but natural. And that’s also why a partner in this work—“an experienced Christian Scientist,” whose prayer begins with God and not the problem, addressing thought, not manipulating matter—can be invaluable. This provision is a gift, a pure blessing of divine Soul, “to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, . . . [to] break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6). It is impersonal spiritual Truth-knowing that can see right through the mist of materiality, which to the one suffering may seem like walls and shackles, and so expedite the needed escape.

As it was for those in Jesus’ time, so in ours, it is natural to desire and to strive for quick, complete healing—and to help others do so. And whether such results come solely through our own prayer or with another’s help, the beauty of every healing is that it not only liberates us (or another), but contributes to releasing humanity from the mistaken belief of life in matter, to know the well-being, liberty, and joy that belong to all of us as God’s own.

Ethel A. Baker

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