Differing Conceptions of the Lord's Prayer

In my limited knowledge of Christian Science and its teachings, nothing has impressed me more, or with greater favor, than its construction of the words and meaning of the Lord's Prayer. The ordinary conception of this prayer, now accepted and used in all Christian churches, deprives it of that spiritual meaning attributed to it by Christian Science, and which renders it so inspiring and helpful. "Our Father which art in heaven" is understood under the more material construction and understanding of the prayer, as a personal being living apart from us, in a place called heaven, that we may reach after death if we live proper lives here on earth and die in the faith. On the other hand, Christian Scientists understand this to refer, spiritually, to an all-harmonious Principle who is ever-present with us, the one Mind, Life, Truth, and Love of whom the real spiritual man is the image and likeness, the reflection. "Thy kingdom come" is generally construed and understood in a material and literal sense, as appealing to God to establish His kingdom, or rule, over us, in earth, as one personal being might rule over another. Christian Scientists believe that God's kingdom is within us, here and now, not as a part of or within the seeming material, mortal body, but spiritually, and as the one all-inclusive Mind. In other words, Christ, in this prayer, in calling for the establishment of God's kingdom on earth, was referring wholly to the spiritual and not a material man, to the real and eternal and not to the unreal and temporal.

But the prayer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," has given rise to the most marked and radical difference in construction. It is generally believed that this is an appeal to the heavenly Father to enforce His will in earth as He enforces it in heaven, and that His will shall be submitted to and obeyed here as there. The mother, grieving for her lost child, is counselled to be comforted by the thought that it is "God's will," and therefore must be for the best; but the yearning heart of the suffering rebels against God and is not comforted. It is a part of the prevailing religious belief that it is God's will that we shall be sick, suffer, and die, and that as we are taught to pray, "Thy will be done," we must, as a part of our religion, worship the Being who has afflicted us, because it is His will that we shall suffer, and it must be sinful to question His will or its justice. Christian Scientists have an altogether different understanding as to what "God's will" is, and therefore a different conception of this portion of the Lord's Prayer. They believe that in heaven all is love, peace, and harmony, the Mind that was in Christ Jesus dwelling in us, in accordance with God's will, and that when we pray, as directed by Christ Jesus, we are not asking that God's will that we or our loved ones suffer and die, shall be submitted to with pious devotion, but that peace and harmony, the reign of Spirit over matter, good over evil, and truth over error, shall be established within us, which is heaven here on earth. " 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin" (Church Manual, p. 56).

The Nature of Substance
June 4, 1904

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