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Silent prayer and the courage to take a stand

From the August 27, 2018 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Silent prayer can bring confidence and courage to anyone who wants to walk in the footsteps of Christ Jesus and heal as he taught his followers to do. Jesus often retreated to a quiet, solitary place to commune with his Father, God, in prayer. His devout prayers solidified his trust in God and gave him the spiritual strength and courage to face down opposing, even adversarial, thoughts and to heal the sick and sinning.

Silent prayer is one way to learn more about God and ourselves. An honest, heart-to-heart, listening conversation with God can lead us to claim what is good and true and enable us to weed out and destroy destructive thoughts. In silent prayer, when we open ourselves to God revealing His goodness and His power to purify our thoughts, we become mentally and spiritually strong.

In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, noted three qualities that elevate one’s thoughts and inspire courage and right actions. She wrote, “The best spiritual type of Christly method for uplifting human thought and imparting divine Truth, is stationary power, stillness, and strength; and when this spiritual ideal is made our own, it becomes the model for human action” (p. 93). These qualities are particularly relevant when we pray. Many years ago, I learned something about how to courageously take a stand for what is right and good by applying these three qualities in prayer. 

Stationary power

The words stationary and power fit so naturally together. Something stationary is constant, permanent, dependable. The Bible speaks of being “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17)—the love of God—through heartfelt faith in Christ. It also says that God has given us the spirit “of power, and of love” (II Timothy 1:7). In actuality, we are forever one with God as His spiritual image and likeness. We can never be uprooted or separated from the power and richness of God’s love for us. 

I found strength to stand firm in my conviction that God alone governed my life.

The stationary, steady ever-presence of divine Love, which casts fear out of us, is a constant, refreshing reminder that we are embraced by and reflect Love, and that God has given us His spiritual qualities—such as joy, peace, freedom, purity, harmony, and wholeness—to express. The understanding of this truth lifts our thoughts out of muddled materialistic beliefs into the clear, spiritual, harmonious reality of being. With this understanding, we become less concerned about our own ability and more about being grounded securely on spiritual truths. Then we naturally yield to the strong, secure, spiritual force of God’s impartial love, which empowers us to face down and correct challenges in our lives and to heal.

Stillness

In this busy, often hectic world, finding a quiet place to pray can be a challenge. But stillness is essentially mental, and we can develop our practice of becoming mentally still through a disciplined desire for it and through yielding to the spiritual peace that God expresses in us. Stillness encourages the establishment of stationary power in our thoughts. Through this stillness, an honest conviction of goodness and truth comes to the surface in our prayers so that our thoughts are not agitated by self-will, pressure, or human opinions or beliefs; we are listening to what God is expressing—to God’s gentle angel messages, which always bring a practical sense of peace. 

Strength 

As the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy, explains, “Obedience to Truth gives man power and strength” (p. 183). Our natural spiritual strength is fostered and developed through our obedience to God and through our yielding to the truth of what we really are—God’s spiritual ideas, reflecting and expressing intelligence and love.

I’ve found that when stationary power, stillness, and strength become the standard for our prayers, they inspire us, resulting in wonderful improvements in our human character and experience.

When I interviewed for my first teaching job, I was told quite firmly during the interview that a woman could not do the job, that I was too young and inexperienced, and that my skills were not adequate for the harsh environment.

Silent prayer is one way to learn more about God and ourselves. 

These humiliating comments nearly destroyed my confidence. I felt sick at heart. But God was right there with me. Shortly after making these comments, the interviewer had to leave the room. Suddenly I had an opportunity to have a few moments of stillness alone with God in silent prayer.

In the solitude of that room, I had what felt like a grand visit with God. I started my prayer by expressing stationary power—holding my thoughts and heart to the omnipotence of God, divine Love, and resting in this truth. I knew that God has given each of us the inherent ability to watch our thoughts and to deny all the lies of evil as unreal and untrue. To me, being stationary meant staying put in conscious communion with the power of divine Mind. Sometimes we may pray, and then say, “There, I’ve prayed. I’m done with that now.” But it is right at that moment that we need to be most firm in our prayers, and not waver until we feel a sense of total peace wash over our consciousness. I knew that God is ever present, and was therefore with me, and I was not about to let go of divine Love’s presence and power.

To do this, I had to be still. I knew that stillness required a calm quieting of my thoughts. I determined to not allow the issues and concerns of the moment to push their way into my consciousness. That would just cause me to be distracted, afraid, or angry. I resolved to silence concerns about the possibility of unfairness in this employer’s hiring decision, about my need for a job, and even about a growling stomach. I claimed my divine right to have peaceful communion with God right in that moment. I was persistent in claiming stillness as my divine right, and I won that battle. I heard and felt the truth “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).

Through this prayer, I found strength to stand firm in my conviction that God alone governed my life and that I was ready for whatever God had prepared and was unfolding for me. That spiritual reasoning felt so good and reassuring. I found strength to reason on the side of Spirit, God, to deny any thought that I was incapable or inferior, and to trust divine Mind’s all-powerful directing. As Science and Health instructs us, “Plead with an honest conviction of truth and a clear perception of the unchanging, unerring, and certain effect of divine Science” (p. 418). 

A strong calmness pervaded my whole being, and I actually found myself smiling when the interviewer came back into the room. I was no longer reacting, but responding with spiritual strength, peace, and joy. To my utter amazement, her thought had apparently changed enough to inform me that the superintendent of the school district was there and wanted to talk with me. The result of that conversation was an offer for my first full-time teaching job, which ended up blessing me with many opportunities to put into practice this courageous prayer to face down what was wrong and stand up for what was right.

This was proof positive to me that when we reason spiritually and pray with stationary power, stillness, and strength, this spiritual course of action leads us and others to take higher moral ground. How grateful I am to have learned this lesson in moral courage and to have proved the power and efficacy of Truth-based silent prayer.

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