By Prayer and Fasting

Jesus' reply to his disciples who asked the reason why they had not been able to heal the boy pronounced by his father to be lunatic, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel, contains an important message to those who practice spiritual healing. While attributing their failure to unbelief, the Master uttered these significant words: "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." In the right interpretation of "prayer and fasting" lies the key to the healing of many a case of illness pronounced by medical authority to be incurable. In defining the purport of Jesus' words, Mrs. Eddy states in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 339), "The animus of his saying was: Silence appetites, passion, and all that wars against Spirit and spiritual power."

While prayer is the scientific method of healing taught in Christian Science, yet prayer is not always, perhaps not often, accompanied by the fasting which makes it most effective. As we withdraw from the world of material sense, and lift thought above its testimony into the realm of Spirit, where the facts of being alone abide, we gain that exalted state which is most conducive to the demonstration of divine power over material belief. Since the curative agency is our understanding of spiritual Truth, the state of consciousness which is the best transparency for Truth is the condition most favorable for healing. It is the clean window pane through which shines most light.

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Moreover, since acceptance of material sense testimony as real bars spiritual growth, to be rid of materialism is the paramount necessity. Of this necessity Mrs. Eddy states (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 156): "It is their materiality that clogs the progress of students, and 'this kind goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting.' It is materialism through which the animal magnetizer preys, and in turn becomes a prey. Spirituality is the basis of all true thought and volition." Here our Leader has set the problem squarely before us. The sensuous beliefs through which materialism finds expression are to be reduced to nothingness, a process accomplished through the power of Spirit. The metaphysician has no other means of destroying error, and needs none other.

Prayer which knows God to be both the only power and the only presence, which affirms that His likeness is perfect man, and in humility implores of the Father the richest blessings of divine Love—this prayer destroys erroneous belief manifested as sickness and fulfills the Master's criterion for effective healing. It is the prayer which is fasting.

Spiritual healing is wholly effective when prayer is accompanied by true fasting; for fasting is a necessary condition of successful prayer. How meager would be the answer to one's prayer to the infinite Father which declared God's allness, while at the same time holding fast to the contradictory material beliefs! Prayer to be effective must be based upon exact knowledge of God; it must affirm with unwavering assurance that there is no other power or presence beside the infinite good, who is all. Any lesser degree of assurance than that entertained by the Master breaks the First Commandment. There is no evidence that Jesus ever indulged in the slightest doubt of the Father's presence and available power. Let us strive to emulate his holy example.

Isaiah defined true fasting, which accompanies righteous prayer, in these words: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen?" he inquired, "to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" How complete such liberation from the bondage of materiality! The bands of wickedness are loosed by their destruction, that is, by refusing to grant them the slightest degree of reality. When the heavy burdens of material sense are undone and cast off, the blessed state of man's true selfhood appears, free from all restrictions, from all sense of burden. The glorious perfection of God's children free and joyous, becomes manifest. Through the application of spiritual truth, which constitutes righteous prayer, every yoke is broken, every restrictive belief rent asunder. This liberation accomplished, there remain nothing to suggest man's separation from God.

True healing is demonstrated through seeing man perfect, as never in need of healing; for God's idea has never been aught but perfect. Mental regeneration wrought by the Christ-spirit constitutes the preparation for healing all cases which seem difficult. When the practitioner is so prepared, every phase of material belief will disappear. Evil cannot remain in the consciousness aware only of the presence of the infinite One. The effectual prayer which the Apostle James declared "availeth much" must be accompanied by the fasting prescribed by Christ Jesus, for only thus can it be effective. The prayer which completely eliminates the world of sense can bring into present realization the perfection of God's universe, including man.

Albert F. Gilmore

Demonstrating Christian Science
April 23, 1927

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