"Prayer and fasting"

In the seventeenth chapter of Matthew an account is given of the healing of a so-called lunatic by Jesus. The disciples had tried to heal the case but had failed. After the healing there arose in their hearts a question which may be in the hearts of those Christian Scientists of to-day who have perhaps failed to bring out a healing: "Why could not we cast him out?" Jesus' reply was simple and to the point: "Because of your unbelief." In his further explanation the Master gave a statement that is worthy of much thought: "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

"Prayer and fasting"—what does this mean? Our beloved Leader makes it perfectly clear in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 222) in these words: "Refraining from admitting the claims of the senses." Considering the unreliability of material sense testimony it should not be difficult to refrain from "admitting" its claims. For instance, when one takes a flight in an aeroplane, material sense testimony argues that the earth is dropping away from the plane, but the plane is rising. When a bird in its flight rises beyond the range of one's vision, sense-testimony claims that the bird has been swallowed up by the skies, but it is not so; sense-testimony argues that the ocean and sky meet at a given point, but they do not. The argument that the railroad tracks converge when they are as far apart ever is false. So also do these same lying senses argue that man can be sick, sinful, sad, poor, dishonest, and discordant, whereas in truth, man, the only man there is, the image and likeness of God, is always perfect, harmonious, and honest.

There is yet another way of considering the word "admitting" as used by Mrs. Eddy in the reference quoted above. For the word "admit," according to a dictionary, also means "to suffer to enter." When we consider that the ship at sea floats safely on with passengers and cargo only as long as it does not "suffer to enter"—to take in or to admit—the water which surrounds it, we see how important it is that we too refrain "from admitting"—or suffering to enter our thought—"the claims of the senses."

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"Back-Seat Duty"
August 9, 1930

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