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She quit smoking, with prayer

From the February 24, 2003 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

I smoked cigarettes for more than 60 years before I was healed of that addiction. The healing came through a better understanding of God and the freedom that understanding can bring to anyone.

Ironically, as I look back on it, I realize that I didn't like anything about smoking. To me, it seemed even worse than drinking or drugs. I loved gardening, but even while having fun among my flower beds, I found it necessary to take regular breaks for a cup of tea and a cigarette.

I was doing my best to kick the habit through spiritual means. I loved the truths of the Bible and was encouraged and strengthened by my study of Christian Science. Deep down, I knew that was where my freedom lay. But not even the help given to me through prayer by Christian Science practitioners, who were always patient with me and loving to me, kept me from the urge to smoke. Although I had experienced spiritual healing in several areas of my life, including the healing of a desire for alcohol, this was one problem that wouldn't leave me alone.

But I continued to pray. And one day this thought came to me: "If you truly desire to stop smoking, with God's help you can do it. But you must feel the impulse deep in your heart." Although it didn't occur to me at the time, I was probably thinking of Mary Baker Eddy's statement in Science and Health, "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds" (p. 1). I sometimes find that even though I don't specifically recall statements like that while praying, those truths are quietly at work in consciousness.

Also, I suspect that a Bible passage I know well was shaping my thinking. It's part of the Apostle Paul's message to the Corinthians: "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (II Cor. 10:4). It had never occurred to me that my smoking habit might be a "strong hold" that was "exalting itself" against "the knowledge of God."

I realize now that I had also failed to give enough attention to the next verse which is paraphrased by J. B. Phillips: "Our battle is to break down every deceptive argument and every imposing defence that men erect against the true knowledge of God."

As I vigorously challenged the power of my addiction, I realized that I had indeed been deceived. There was no real satisfaction to be gained from my smoking. The truth was I was tired of smoking—even disgusted with it.

I began to live with God all day long, and from that time on, I never smoked again. Oh, there were moments of temptation—some of them very strong. But those bad thoughts didn't last long. Whenever it seemed that I might stray, God cut in on me and held me steady. Each time, the God-impelled thought won out. I felt God's presence and direction so clearly that they were almost palpable.

It was a wonderful healing, which gave me a feeling of freedom I have never lost.

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