No soliciting!

We should be alert to the endless stream of mental solicitors that come to us as thoughts of hopelessness or discouragement.

Characteristic of my city is a multiplicity of terraces—open places along streets or on street corners where guests may sit and enjoy a drink and a snack. No sooner are you seated than peddlers start streaming to you, soliciting your attention and offering a wide range of merchandise. The stream is endless. Some come more than once, even after you have said that you’re not interested in their wares. 

On my first visit to the United States a few years ago, I noticed that a number of properties had a “No soliciting” sign in front. My friends explained the reason for the sign. Oh, how I wished I could carry around with me in my own city a banner with that message! Without it, I’m obliged to keep responding to unsolicited offers, no matter how many times they come or how insistent they are.

Such a sign or banner could be helpful not only on the terraces of Kinshasa but in a place we all frequent that is much closer to us: the internet. It’s hard to do without the internet. But as you know, it comes with its own peddlers: incessant pop-ups, or unsolicited messages, prompting you to look at something, whether a new game, an offer, an image—you name it. And many of these peddlers are not so innocent.

Solicitors in our towns or online can be annoying but are relatively easy to dismiss. But what about the endless stream of mental solicitors that come to us—thoughts suggesting, for example, that we are discouraged or that something is impossible to resolve or heal? These tend to be harder to ignore or dismiss, since they frequently come disguised as our own thoughts and peddle messages that sound credible or alluring, such as “This situation is hopeless”; “If you cheat only this one time, the world won’t collapse”; “If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity, you’ll end up poor all your life”; and one that has knocked on the door of my own thought, “This country will never develop; its officials are so corrupt.” However believable they might seem to us, these unwelcome solicitors are peddling nothing but untruths—thoughts that have no basis in God, the one divine Mind and source of all true intelligence. We can easily identify them because they are devoid of hope and spiritual inspiration.

How can we repel these intruders and see that they don’t return? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, was quite aware of these spoilers of health and happiness. Speaking from experience, she provides the student of this Science with plenty of instructions about how to handle them. For instance, on page 392 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously”; and on page 234, “You must control evil thoughts in the first instance, or they will control you in the second.”

Admitting into thought only what we wish to experience is essential in the daily practice of Christian Science. If we want to experience health, then we must not accept the belief that we can have a disease. If we want to feel at peace, we must not accept that discord has any reality. This is not to say that we ignore evil, but rather that we see what the solicitation is trying to accomplish and understand that it cannot do so because it has no reality, no truth. This is the watching that Christ Jesus was referring to when he said, “Take ye heed, watch and pray” (Mark 13:33). 

Jesus came into the world to show humanity the unreality of evil, and he demonstrated through his healing works that God is supreme, ever present, the only reality and power. When we understand the powerlessness of evil and the allness of God, good, we are better equipped to fulfill our healing mission as followers of Christ and less likely to succumb to negative suggestions. Mrs. Eddy writes, “Christian Scientists cannot watch too sedulously, or bar their doors too closely, or pray to God too fervently, for deliverance from the claims of evil” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 114). In other words, we must be alert to always have our “No soliciting” sign on the door of thought.

I was reminded of this need several months ago when I found myself attracted by news articles criticizing our country’s government. These articles brought out cases of blatant corruption, embezzlement of public funds, and so on. For a good while, I was disturbed by such news. I became bitter about our politicians. I ended up losing my peace of mind, as I could see the signs of poor management everywhere. It became difficult for me to do my job, which is to pray—not only for myself and my family and those who ask me to pray for them but also for my country and the world. As the Bible tells us, we should pray “for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:1, 2).

I asked myself if it were possible to pray effectively while at the same time accepting evidence of evildoing and criticizing those in power. The answer was obvious: No! From then on, I started to watch my thoughts, and instead of reacting negatively to what I read or saw about the government that was bad, I made efforts to appreciate the good that I could see, even if it was small or seemingly insignificant. The more I did that, the more I felt at peace and was in a position to act as Mrs. Eddy counsels in an address to her church: “Pray that the divine presence may still guide and bless our chief magistrate, those associated with his executive trust, and our national judiciary; give to our congress wisdom, and uphold our nation with the right arm of His righteousness” (Christian Science versus Pantheism, p. 14).

Such prayer does not just provide us with peace of mind; it heals the discords of human existence. Here is a small example. 

More than once, I have found myself in one of my city’s massive traffic jams. Instead of going along with harsh criticisms voiced around me about the lack of traffic police and traffic lights, I affirm to myself that God, good, is the real power, and that God, Mind, is all intelligence and is reflected by all His children, as Christian Science teaches. After I have prayed like that for a few minutes, the circumstances always change for the better. Either volunteers show up and start finding ways to disentangle the traffic jam or a police officer arrives on the scene and helps get the traffic flow back to normal. While this is a small example, it is not insignificant proof to me that prayer for the common good and our world can make a difference and have a normalizing, pacifying effect in our communities, our governments, and world affairs. It also has a salutary effect in our personal affairs, as I experienced several years ago. 

While working for a United Nations agency in my country, I was suddenly struck with a persistent cough. I was used to relying on prayer for healing, and I started to pray for myself. Those I shared an office with were quite concerned. They started telling me that I should go to the hospital for treatment. They knew I was a Christian Scientist, and some insinuated that my faith had failed to work in this case. But I knew the truth of the matter—that I am a spiritual idea, the reflection of God, and, as such, always in perfect health—so I did not waver. I kept saying no and no and no to all of the negative mental solicitations while continuing to pray. I asked a friend to support me in that prayerful work, and the coughing was soon over. This healing took place over ten years ago.

I must confess that the battle is not yet won against the unwelcome solicitors that regularly come to thought claiming reality and power for the opposite of health, justice, and peace, but victory is certain when we watch and pray. I remain in a watching mode, with my “No soliciting” banner posted in thought. And I invite you to join me!

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