WHEN A NEW BABY is expected, a Christian Science practitioner often has the privilege of supporting the parents' prayers as well as other members of the family. Depending on the mother's and family's desires, the practitioner may pray regularly throughout all the months of pregnancy—or simply when there's a specific need for prayer. While pregnancy is certainly not to be treated as an illness, it is a special opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual nature of childbirth and the true identity of children. This prayer covers many bases—from questions and concerns about the gestation process to common fears associated with pregnancy. Each case is individual and the circumstances different, but prayer surrounding birth provides a foundation for understanding a child's true identity and the parent's role in his or her life.
UNDERSTAND THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION
God forms every child, or spiritual idea, perfectly—develops, carries, nourishes, influences, appreciates, and loves it throughout eternity. In Genesis, we read that God created man, both male and female, and declared that His creation "was very good" (1:31). This is a fixed fact. The divine Creator has no need to recreate or alter what He has already made.
In place of a physical process of creation and development, the spiritual view of birth reveals that every child is God's selfexpression—His eternal self-revealing. St. Paul said explicitly, "We are the children of God" (Rom. 8:16). You could say that childbirth really represents how the divine Mind is announcing its own loveliness and innocence to the family, through this new spiritual idea, expressed as a beautiful baby.
Becoming grounded in this spiritual view of their child's existence is an essential activity in the parent's preparation for the birth. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy recognized the need for this kind of preparation, and she gave special attention to prayer in obstetric cases. She wrote: "To attend properly the birth of the new child, or divine idea, you should so detach mortal thought from its material conceptions, that the birth will be natural and safe. Though gathering new energy, this idea cannot injure its useful surroundings in the travail of spiritual birth. ... The new idea, conceived and born of Truth and Love, is clad in white garments. Its beginning will be meek, its growth sturdy, and its maturity undecaying" (p. 463).
PRAY ABOUT COMMON FEARS
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking about the child's identity as mortal, defined by a specific biological makeup and a particular family history. Parents-to-be naturally wonder what their child will look and be like, but thinking along these lines in a merely human way actually involves a limited sense of Spirit's idea—a counterfeit of God's spiritual expression. God's idea is immortal—forever living, forever expressing eternal Life. Therefore, the child has no weak or vulnerable beginning, no dangerous heredity, and can never suffer or die.
Mrs. Eddy saw the danger of putting emphasis on family lineage when she wrote, "Heredity is a prolific subject for mortal belief to pin theories upon; but if we learn that nothing is real but the right, we shall have no dangerous inheritances, and fleshly ills will disappear" (ibid., p. 228). The insidious claim that a child could be physically or emotionally underdeveloped has no spiritual validity. Love's jurisdiction and Love's authority keep both mother and child healthy and strong.
Through spiritual understanding, parents have the joy of seeing the period of pregnancy and birth as entirely subject to God's laws of order, health, and harmony. Only when these laws are unknown or forgotten, can pregnancy seem difficult, worrisome, or a burden. And if this is the case, making room in thought for a larger sense of God's love and grace will, through prayer, bring the situation into accord with God's laws, and the necessary healing will take place.
During any prenatal examination, as well as at the time of delivery, it's good to understand that doctors, nurses, midwives, or anyone else involved in the case are also children of one God, receptive and responsive to His spiritual laws of good. Their care represents God's love reaching us in a way we can understand.
However, it's equally important to be firm in declaring that since God is All, and all good, no fearful or disturbing thought can find an avenue for expression during the pregnancy or birth. As God's expression, no one involved can become fearful, negative, tense, or negligent. Even if a crisis arises, we can respond through prayer with authority and dominion.
For example, a father frantically called me just as his wife was about to have their baby. It was a homebirth with a midwife in attendance, and all the father had time to say to me was, "Help!"
Immediately I began to pray. Later, I found out that the umbilical cord had become entwined around the baby's head and was causing complications with the birth. At the midwife's request, paramedics were already on their way.
In a situation like this, it's tempting to get wrapped up in fearful scenarios. But I knew that wouldn't help these parents in their time of need. Quickly turning to Mrs. Eddy's counsel about praying for obstetric cases, I was inspired by the phrase "the birth will be natural and safe." As I prayed, those words jumped off the page, and I felt a deep conviction of God's absolute control and care for the mother and child. I knew right then that all was well.
The baby arrived safely shortly after my phone call from the father. In fact, the paramedics got there just in time to witness the harmonious birth, and they never had to intervene.
There's another common assumption that being pregnant can be a burden to the mother; that it involves two beings sharing a space, and eventually involves another family member to love, feed, clothe, and care for. Again, it's vital to see birth spiritually, not as a material process or activity but as a divinely natural experience—an unfoldment of God's good creation, which blesses everyone involved. The unfolding idea in the divine Mind does not press upon or take away good from another idea. It cannot cause distortion, pressure, discord, discomfort, pain, or sickness. Each idea is held in its perfect place and is a joy, a blessing, to every other idea, blending in perfect harmony like notes in a symphony. Science and Health explains, "Principle and its idea is one ..." (p. 465). There is only one position, one presentation, one creation.
I had the opportunity to pray with a mother about the perception that a pregnancy can be ill-timed or a burden. This mother called me when she learned she was going to have her fourth child. She felt she was an inadequate mother to the three children she already had, that her other deliveries had been struggles, and that she (and the rest of her family) felt totally unprepared for another addition to the family.
I agreed to pray with her over the next few days—not about whether this child was a necessary addition to the family, or even whether she could handle another child. My prayer was more along the lines of the spiritual value and purpose of God's ideas. As I prayed this way, a divine message came to my thought, which sounded a bit like a letter from a child. I wrote it down:
Be still. Fear not. You are not responsible for my life. I exist to express eternal Life and Love, our Father-Mother God. You did not create me. I am God's self-expression, His fullness revealing Himself in a way that you can understand. I am here to show you that you are not weak. You express the supreme strength of Spirit. God's capacity for good and abilities for joy flow endlessly through you and all that you do. I am here to show you that our Life is for loving and that our Love always has life. My presence can cause you no pain or sorrow, for I reveal God's unending love for you. Smile! God has blessed me through you, and He is blessing you through me.
Your dear one
I sent this letter to the mother, and she posted it on her refrigerator door. Soon, its message reached the entire family, and they began to change their perspective. They acted like a family again, supporting one another, loving each other. The parents began to embrace the idea of this lovely addition to the family.
When it came time for the baby's birth, the mother had only a four-hour delivery (compared to the 18-plus hours of her other deliveries). Their new son quickly became the center of attention in their happy home. The husband found new joy in taking care of the children, and the woman's confidence as a mother increased. When applied, God's law of harmony cannot be resisted; it brings healing and joy to any situation.
After the birth, the wisdom of Love is expressed in the practical care a parent renders the child. Recognizing that every detail and activity of caring for a baby is divinely directed, lifts burdens off the new father and mother, removes any fear or belief of inadequacy they may be tempted to accept, and allows them to express Love freely. No harmful chemical changes exist in God; therefore, no emotional swings can threaten the mother before or after the birth. God demands balance, order, and harmony in mother and child. The continuity of God's care and grace is never interrupted.
RECOGNIZE THIS SPIRITUAL STUDY IS FOR EVERYONE
Whether someone is married or single, does or doesn't have children, the prayer involved in cherishing birth is of spiritual benefit to all.
The Gospel of Matthew describes how "the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 1:18). While reading through this passage, I was struck with how we are all expecting—you could say "with child"—because the spirit of God—the Christ-idea—is within each consciousness, reminding us of our own immortal, spiritual identity. The innocence, energy, receptivity, and spontaneity of the Christ are destroying the fears and material limitations that bind and enfeeble us. Divine activity is the reason for the appearance of every child.
The child within—our true, spiritual identity—reminds us that God is our Mind, Life, and substance. This child is loving, trusting, and obedient, expressing the grace and dignity of supreme Soul. As we each treasure this child, we will discover unlimited divine energy, eternal wholeness, health, and healing.
Every moment can be thought of as a new birth. As we follow the Christ, we will leave behind the fears and limits of materiality and rise to the spiritual altitude and attitude where we witness Love announcing, "Here I am!"
Keith Wommack is a Christian Science teacher and practitioner from Corpus Christi, Texas.