NAME A TIME when you lived your prayer
Walking the talk
BY PHILIP HOCKLEY
In 2005, just days before my wife and I were to visit family in Wales for the Christmas holidays, I was suddenly struck with intense pain in my back. I found it very difficult to walk, breathe, or even lie down again.
Looking for more content like this?
Get uplifting articles and podcasts in the Sentinel's weekly email.
This was pain I'd dealt with many times in the past. A medical doctor had diagnosed the condition as a slipped disc and recommended a strict regimen of chiropractic treatments and medication. I usually spent up to three weeks on bed rest during these episodes.
Aside from anticipating possible weeks of pain, I was afraid I might not be able to join my family for Christmas after all. But then I recalled the numerous immediate healings I'd experienced in the five years I'd been studying Christian Science. I'd gained a deep confidence in trusting prayer-based treatment.
So I began to pray. I remembered one of my favorite citations in Science and Health: "We must look where we would walk, and we must act as possessing all power from Him in whom we have our being" (p. 264). It occurred to me how ridiculous it was to think I couldn't move with God as the source of my being. At that moment, I saw that this immobility didn't have any legitimate place in my day, and that I could immediately put my prayers into action.
I decided to go to my job at a Christian Science nursing facility. My work involved heavy lifting and lots of walking. Although I still experienced a sharp pain in my back, this never prevented me from carrying out my responsibilities.
The Bible account of Peter walking on the waves to Jesus inspired me (see Matt., chap. 14). Peter was doing fine until he allowed the stormy winds to turn his gaze from the Christ and focus instead on his fear of the waves. Then he began to sink. I was determined to look up and keep my gaze on the Christ, Truth, instead of looking down at the material evidence of an abnormal body. I could walk over the waves of pain and not allow them to influence me. Throughout my workday, I continually heard the comforting words from Science and Health to "act as possessing all power from Him"—and I did this with a sense of dominion.
With this approach, complete healing came a day later, after my wife shared her own prayerful inspiration with me. She reminded me that I was "unfallen, upright, pure, and free" as stated in Science and Health (p. 171). As I thought deeply about this spiritual fact, I recognized that God made me upright not only physically, but morally as well. I realized that I, too, reflected these "upright" qualities in all that I was doing in my life. With this insight, the back pain completely disappeared.
The following day I was able to pack and carry several heavy suitcases up and down stairs, as my wife and I traveled by train to Wales and enjoyed an active holiday with family and friends. Since then, the back trouble has never returned. |css
'God knows what He is doing'
BY SUSAN SCHIRM TESCHKE
FAIRPORT, NEW YORK, US
Recently, I've been striving to bring immediacy, a sense of "now," to my prayer—in order to better understand that God's law is presently in operation. Many Bible passages speak of what God "will do," which could imply a waiting period before the action on God's part. Christian Science, however, teaches that God is ever present and always fulfilling His good purpose for His entire creation.
During Christian Science class instruction, our teacher shared the idea of substituting is for shall or will when reading such Bible passages, which can give a clearer concept of His immediate power. For instance, Isaiah 41:10 became more meaningful to me when I read it as, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I am strengthening thee; I am helping thee; I am upholding thee with the right hand of my righteousness." God is doing it! I didn't have to wait for God to act sometime in the future. He was working on my behalf at that moment. How could God be at work in the present—taking care of business, so to speak—and things not be as they should be? God is always in charge of everything. There isn't any other power or force that can call the shots or interfere with His provision and plan for us. Science and Health explains, "... He who is immutably right will do right without being reminded of His province" (p. 3).
God is always right, and doing right. A clearer understanding of this fact has encouraged and inspired me many times over the past year. When my husband and I agreed that he would take a break from his business career, we had no idea that the planned three months off would extend to 14. At times, when we struggled with what we should be doing regarding our finances and living arrangements, I affirmed, sometimes vehemently, "God knows what He is doing, and He is doing it!" This acknowledgment of the divine Mind's intelligent and unerring administration has been a helpful reminder that God always governs every detail of my life.
I began shaping my thoughts and actions in accord with that fact—refusing, for example, to take on the burden of false responsibility for making things happen. I resolved not to give in to doubt and fear. I deepened my desire to be of service. My simple prayer of "Thy will be done" helped in keeping me from "reminding" God of what I thought needed to happen.
Living this prayer, I've seen wonderful proofs of God's ongoing provision. I've been blessed with as many as five parttime jobs at once, all fitting together perfectly into a workable schedule. We've received many gifts and offers of help from friends showing their love for us. Whereas in the past I took much for granted, deeds of kindness became sweeter and more precious to me—mine as well as those of others. Now I find cause for gratitude daily. Working to align my thoughts and actions with the immediate fact of divine power continues to make my prayer effective. I can't help but rejoice! |css
Moment by moment prayer
BY JOY HINMAN
TURNER VALLEY, ALBERTA, CANADA
A few miles upstream from Saint John, New Brunswick, the Kennebecasis River is almost as wide as a lake. One time my husband and I planned a canoeing and camping trip there. Little did we know it would end with the urgent opportunity for moment-by-moment prayer.
The day was sunny when we loaded up our 17-foot Chestnut canoe and paddled with our preschool daughter and son to an island about a mile from shore. The trip went easily, and we had fun setting up camp and playing on the beach—the only people on the island.
I'd prepared for the trip by praying to God for safety. Even before leaving home, I was mentally putting "spiritual life jackets" on us all. This verse from Psalms in particular assured me of God's care: "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (121:8). I just knew that God would be present to love and protect us all the way.
During the night the wind increased, and it was raining by morning. We knew we needed to head home, since the island had no shelter. We packed up quickly, put on life jackets, and positioned the children centrally, and down as low as possible in the heavily loaded canoe. We told them that they must sit extra still.
Out on the river we faced strong winds, heavy rain, and dangerously high waves. I paddled in the bow while my husband, paddling in the stern, kept us angled so that we wouldn't turn broadside.
We used all our strength to paddle against the wind and waves. But in addition to these physical efforts, and my earlier prayers for the trip, I now needed to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17)—to get rid of fear. God gave me strength and courage.
I remembered how Jesus had calmed a storm with the command, "Peace, be still" (see Mark 4:36–40). I spoke many spiritual truths out loud, and sang such hymns as the one that asks God, "Shepherd, show me how to go," and continues, "I will follow and rejoice, / All the rugged way" (Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 304). As I prayed with each difficult stroke, I felt the joyful rhythm of God's presence and power strengthening my paddling and my prayers. The children felt it too, sat still, stayed calm, and didn't cry.
We reached shore cold and drenched, but thankful. There were no other boats on the river that day, so there would have been no help at hand had we capsized. I thanked God for "holding us up, and keeping us safe" (see Ps. 119:117)—and to know He was "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (ps. 46:1). CSS
I lived what I was learning
By REX NELLES
Boston, Massachusetts, US
While working for a summer camp, I had the opportunity to help build a rock-climbing wall. I was working with a contractor and some laborers hired specifically for this project.
On the first day, things ran smoothly with everyone working together. On the second day, however, the contractor arrived in a bad mood, having come from an early-morning job that had not gone well. Halfway through the morning, I was using a drill to screw in some heavy bolts. When the drill bit snapped, I recommended changing our approach and drilling guide holes for the bolts. To my surprise, the contractor started yelling at me.
At that moment, it was tempting either to verbally assault him back, or give up and walk away. But then I thought about a story in that week's Christian Science Bible Lesson. Jesus found himself in the midst of an angry crowd of men preparing to stone a woman. In the middle of the chaos, he stooped to the ground and began writing in the dirt. I'd liked the fact that Jesus refrained from reacting in righteous anger, but had, in his response, turned the situation into an opportunity for all involved to honestly examine their own thinking (see John 8:1–11).
It was time to live what I'd been learning. Pausing to regain my mental composure, I squatted down on my heels to pray. I really wanted to see this contractor as Jesus would—as a spiritual child of God. I thought about all of the good experiences I'd had with the contractor, including our previous work together inspecting and maintaining the camp's ropes course. My prayers immediately helped me realize that I could quickly forgive his angry outburst; it didn't have any power to take away my peace. I also prayed to know that anger wasn't actually a part of his, or anyone's true spiritual identity.
Suddenly, I became aware that the contractor and laborers were working quietly around me. A few minutes later, as we walked to get lunch, the contractor apologized profusely. He asked me what I'd been thinking about when I'd paused from my work. I accepted his apology and shared my conviction that, as reflections of an all-good God, we were never separated from His government. I said I'd been realizing that nothing could overshadow all the good we were accomplishing together. The rest of the project moved quickly, and we finished the climbing wall on schedule.
After my job at the camp ended, I got a call from this contractor, offering me a job. He said he was impressed by the courage of my convictions and told me that I was—in his words—"a good Christian man." Following Jesus' example had enabled me to approach a heated situation as an opportunity for spiritual growth. CSS