"Commercializing" Prayer

We sometimes hear it said by hostile critics that the practice of Christian Science is the "commercializing" of prayer. It may be asked if the prayer which is spiritual enough to raise the sick from their beds of pain can be materialized by an expression of gratitude in the form of worthy compensation. The one who takes such a position may not realize that in so judging he is condemning all the ministers of the gospel, first among whom is Christ Jesus himself. To be sure, economic conditions were then quite different. Even in the last few years the world has changed in this respect. It was not so long ago that our school-teachers in country districts "boarded around" with the different families of the district, and this without any cost to the teacher. Now, however, our teachers prefer to be given a certain salary sufficient to board themselves in the place and manner of their own choosing. This does not dishonor or lower teaching; it is simply an economic change, and surely a wise one.

Similarly in Jesus' time the disciples healed the sick, and then ate and lived in the homes of different people in the towns through which they passed. Peter, we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, lodged in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea, and after he had preached to the people in Caesarea and had healed them, he was asked to "tarry certain days," and he did. That we cannot imagine Peter being definitely paid for his services is due to our ideas of economic conditions at that time. Can we, for instance, imagine that one of our school-teachers on meeting the parent of one of his pupils would say, Come, follow me; I wish to take dinner at your house this evening? And yet this is the very thing that Jesus did many times. To Zacchæus he said: "Make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully." And to "Levi the son of Aphæus sitting at the receipt of custom" (collector of internal revenues), he said, "Follow me," and he dined in his home.

When Jesus sent out the seventy disciples to preach the gospel and heal the sick, he did not tell them that this should be done without material compensation, but rather he told them, as recorded in the tenth chapter of Luke: "Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes . . . And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house . . . And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire." Did this commercialize their preaching or prayer? Jesus felt that the disciples should be compensated for their efforts in a manner which was customary at that time.

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Scientific Citizenship
July 24, 1915

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