Praying with spiritual authority
The spiritual understanding gained from the study of Jesus’ teachings enables us to assert with confidence God’s healing presence.
Christ Jesus was deeply humble in his recognition of God’s supreme power. Yet the Bible makes clear that he was no pushover. According to the Gospel of Mark, his preaching astonished listeners, “for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes” (1:22).
Nowhere is that authority more convincingly illustrated than in the Master’s quick and effective healings, which were often preceded by commands, such as “Come forth,” “Be thou clean,” “Stretch forth thy hand,” and “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”
These were more than just verbal orders to a person in need of healing. They were declarations that affirmed the individual’s spiritual identity, invisible to the eye but known to God. This spiritual identity—the real selfhood of each of us—is the man described in Genesis as made “in [God’s] own image” (1:27). Just as a mirror image reflects only what is in the original, God’s image does not include anything unlike Him. It is spiritual and perfect, as God is.
A material body, subject to the so-called laws of matter, is not the reflection of God, divine Spirit. It is a counterfeit of our true, spiritual selfhood. As we clearly understand that materiality is not included in this true identity, we naturally reject weakness, disease, and injury as falsehoods that have no power to take away our God-given strength and health. And the result is healing.
This healing power was bestowed upon Jesus’ disciples as they took up the mantle of authority that he gave them. Luke’s Gospel reports, “He called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases” (9:1). The Bible gives several accounts of the disciples’ healing work, such as when Peter told the lame man at the gate of the Temple, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6), and the man immediately leaped up and walked.
The same power is available today to all who follow Christ’s commands, including the one to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matthew 10:8). Man’s spiritual identity is expressed in such Godlike qualities as grace, peace, power, goodness, health, joy, and so on. And we have the authority to claim those qualities as the true nature and status of ourselves and others and to reject discord of any kind.
When we understand that materiality is not included in our true identity, we can reject weakness, disease, and injury as falsehoods that have no power.
My experiences of praying with spiritual authority have given me proofs of God’s presence and harmonizing power, and have shown me the importance of always being ready and willing to dispel the ills of the human condition, wherever we are.
One experience involved my transporting a drug addict to a rehab center in Massachusetts. (This was part of my job at the time.) We were flying from California, and the plane had to make several stops. During the trip, the man displayed withdrawal symptoms—at times becoming violent, yelling at the attendants, smoking in the plane, and getting out of his seat mid-flight. I tried to control him and wrestle him back into his seat.
During our final stopover at an airport in New York, he got up and stormed off the plane. I ran after him and found him in the crowded walkway. Realizing that my willful approach wasn’t working, I instead prayed to see his true spiritual identity. I had to look beyond his apparent condition and recognize that his true spiritual identity as God’s reflection was actually untouched by the drugs. I affirmed in thought that God’s expression possesses a God-given tendency toward goodness and is unable to resist God’s, Love’s, embrace.
I declared aloud to him that I loved him, that God loved him, and that he had nothing to fear. He stared back with a blank look. I said that I was going back to the plane and that he could join me or leave on his own—it was his choice. Ten minutes after I returned to my seat, he reappeared and sat down next to me. The sweating and trembling were gone. The dilated pupils had returned to normal. He was calm, peaceful, and prepared to move forward with the trip—and his life.
My experiences of praying with spiritual authority have given me proofs of God’s presence and harmonizing power.
Another experience was more recent. My wife and I were at a Wednesday testimony meeting at a branch Church of Christ, Scientist. One of the testifiers said that recently she had slipped and fallen, but had declared immediately that all was under God’s government and that nothing could hurt or touch her spiritual identity. She expressed gratitude for the immediate healing of an injury resulting from the fall.
As we were heading toward our car after the service, my wife tripped over a concrete bumper stop in the parking lot and landed on her head. She was in severe pain. I bent over her and repeated the same spiritual fact that had been affirmed in the testimony we had just heard—that in God’s kingdom nothing could hurt her or touch her spiritual identity. She repeated it with me. After a few moments, the pain stopped; she was able to get up, and we continued on our way home. There were no further effects from the fall.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes from her experience following in the footsteps of Christ Jesus as a proficient healer, “Like the great Exemplar, the healer should speak to disease as one having authority over it, leaving Soul to master the false evidences of the corporeal senses and to assert its claims over mortality and disease” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 395).
The spiritual understanding gained from the study of Jesus’ teachings as explained in Christian Science impels and enables us to assert with confidence God’s healing presence, and to declare, with evidence following, “Peace, be still.”