People often think it takes lots of faith to heal through prayer. Apparently the first Christian apostles even thought so. When they implored Jesus, "Increase our faith," he told them that with faith as small as a tiny seed they could command a tree to uproot itself and jump into the sea, and it would do it (see Luke 17:5,6). With this deft response, Jesus completely dismissed the notion that their faith would have to come in large quantities. He directed their thought away from the amount of faith they possessed to the power that lay behind it.
The power of prayer, Jesus taught, is not so much in the faith of the one who prays, but in what one has faith in. He placed absolute faith in God, omnipotent Truth, as the healing power, and so does Christian Science. Jesus made clear that divine Truth can be known, understood, so that one's faith is not blind, but enlightened—and that this understanding comes through faithfully following his teachings. He said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).
Note that Jesus said "the truth shall make you free," not that one's knowing of the truth makes one free.
I find it very freeing to think in terms of being faithful, rather than struggling for more faith. This kind of focus directs my attention to seeking to understand God as Truth, and then to be faithful to what I am learning. Each one of us has the spiritual sense, the God-given capacity, to perceive and understand the divine Science of Truth that lay behind Jesus' healing power.
Certainly no one can ever say they have reached the point where they know divine Truth so completely that they have no more to learn. Gaining a true understanding of God is a lifetime learning activity. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of the Science of Christ, Truth, made this point when she said, "A grain of Christian Science does wonders for mortals, so omnipotent is Truth, but more of Christian Science must be gained in order to continue in well doing" (Science and Health, p. 449). The beautiful thing is, though, that being faithful to what we are learning of Truth brings Truth's omnipotent healing power into our present experience today. And that makes the necessary self-discipline well worth the effort.
For example, I've been a student of Christian Science for over 50 years. Each of the many healings I have experienced has come in the same way—by my learning what's true of God, and being faithful to Truth by acknowledging the consequent untruth of some discord. That's where the discipline comes in.
It's very easy to unquestioningly accept the plethora of diseases and disturbing scenes before us as real and true, especially those that hit home in our own lives. To be faithful to God, and thus to bring healing to these situations, we need to be keenly aware of God as Truth. I've found no better way to do this than through an openhearted daily study of Christian Science, accompanied by moments of prayerful communion with God.
Let me share a few of the things the textbooks of Christian Science, the Bible and Science and Health, teach me about God as Truth.
God is Truth because God is the only Cause, the only Creator. Immortal Truth is the Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, and Life of all God creates. Truth is unchanging, divine Love, permitting no error—no limitation, corruption, disease—neither in itself or in its creation. By reason of its all-presence and all-power, Truth precludes the existence of error; therefore, whatever is unlike God is untrue, unreal, nothing more than an illusion of the human mind. Truth heals by liberating the human mind from ignorantly believing in what is untrue of God and His creation.
Now that's a lot to take in, for sure. That's why it's so important to give God our full attention in our moments of study and prayer—and to keep whatever we know to be true of God before our thought during the day. We're so used to judging what's real and what's unreal through what our eyes and ears tell us, whereas divine Truth is understood through spiritual sense. Faithful attention to living the spiritual qualities put forth in Jesus' teachings—the Beatitudes (see Matt. 5:3-12), as one example—spiritualizes the quality of our thinking. This sharpens our spiritual sense and enables us to reason clearly that Truth is indeed the only reality despite what the five senses tell us.
It's not how much you know of God but how faithful you are to what you do know that brings the healing power of God into your experience. A recent healing of mine illustrates this point. One morning, my alarm rang. I started to move my leg to the side of the bed. My leg was stiff and sore. I went to move my arm. Same thing. Every bit of me was stiff and sore. I thought, What! Did I turn into an old lady overnight? I laughed at that a little. Then I started to pray.
I find it very freeing to think in terms of being faithful, rather than struggling for more faith.
As I proceeded rather slowly to get out of bed and get ready for the day, I turned my thoughts to God as the only Cause. I saw how necessary it was for me to love God thoroughly, and not to be made to believe anything that is not true about Him. So whenever a suggestion of another cause besides God came to my thought, such as time, or age, or overexertion, I would mentally reason that since God is the only Cause, the stiffness didn't have any cause at all.
I limbered up as the day went on, but the next morning it was the same story, and the same prayer. Then after I had dressed and was walking out of my bedroom, I suddenly stood still for a moment. I thought, Well, if this stiffness doesn't have a cause, then it just plain isn't! And it wasn't! Every hint of stiffness and soreness was gone just like that—and never returned. Divine Truth liberated my thought and healed me.
Did this healing come because I suddenly had a greater quantity of faith in Truth than I had had a moment earlier? No. It came because my faith in Truth as the only Cause overtook my mistaken faith in material causes and destroyed it. As Science and Health states, "When we come to have more faith in the truth of being than we have in error ... then no material suppositions can prevent us from healing the sick and destroying error" (p. 368). What I really needed was less faith in error.
It's not hard to have faith in what you know to be true, unless you can be made to believe a lie. So bring your openhearted, receptive thought to a daily study of Christian Science and engage in moments of precious communion with God. Ponder Truth. Love it. Explore the diversity of beautiful spiritual qualities that make up God's being and that pervade man's (everyone's) true being as His spiritual reflection. Then, be faithful to Truth. Don't let the spiritual ignorance floating around in the general atmosphere of human thought talk you into believing what you know is not true.
No matter how small you think your faith in Truth is, be faithful to it, and you will experience Truth's liberating, healing power.
Contributing Editor Barbara Vining is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. She lives in Toledo, Ohio.
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