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Immunity

Bringing our prayers to the threat of contagion

From the March 9, 2020 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

First appeared as a Web Original on January 28, 2020


“Today only! Free flu shots!”

The bright banners snapping in the late fall breeze seemed to be effective. Lots of cars were turning in at the large chain drugstore near our home. As I drove past, it occurred to me how easy it is to assume that it’s natural, even inevitable, to come down with contagious illnesses, especially during the winter. 

Taking responsibility for our health is important. For many folks, seasonal shots and prescriptions are one approach, and I certainly respect and support those who make that choice. But in my own experience, I’ve found that through Christian Science it’s possible to consistently challenge the assumptions about getting sick, and that doing so has brought ­more solid and lasting health. Prayer based on a spiritual understanding of God has always been a reliable and effective way to care for my health.

How can this kind of prayer help? In my own experience, I’ve seen that this prayer makes us aware of a radically different view of our lives and the world around us. This spiritual view is based on a recognition of God as divine Life—wholly good and the source of all harmony. Life being all good, causing only good, and maintaining harmony throughout its creation is therefore the source of health rather than sickness, vitality rather than vulnerability. And this fact, understood, has practical effects, such as protection from contagion.

While we might usually think of health as a variable condition of a physical body, it is, in fact, an unchanging spiritual quality sourced in God. It’s permanent.

While we might usually think of health as a variable condition of a physical body, it is, in fact, an unchanging spiritual quality sourced in God. It’s permanent. It’s sustained by God and maintained in each of us in all seasons and circumstances. And we can prove this in our daily lives in a way that allows us to start feeling that health, not disease, is what’s normal. 

We can face down the fear of “catching” something by holding firmly not just to what’s true about God but also to some basic truths about ourselves: for example, that God as divine Life made us in the image of Life—the very expression of all that divine Life is. So, as the image of the Life that is God, we could never succumb to being less than the exact representation of this perfect Life: spiritual and whole, safe and vital in every season.

This kind of focused, prayerful defense is something we can undertake daily so that our whole concept of life begins to shift. We start to see ourselves more consistently as the likeness of this divine Life—as fundamentally spiritual and invulnerable. This enables us to combat the fear of getting sick and to dispute the many widespread assumptions about contagion. It allows us to swiftly and effectively refute every detail about infectious disease that comes at us, whether through the news, lunchtime conversation, or social media—or even thoughts that seem like our own.

This is more than mere positive thinking. It’s the kind of prayer Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, attributed to Christ Jesus as his “deep and conscientious protests of Truth,—of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 12). People have asked me whether that kind of “deep and conscientious” prayer can actually be effective in both preventing and dealing with contagion. Gratefully, I can answer yes. It is—and I’ve seen how in my own life.

Prayer can lift us out of the swirl of fear, and it can be a calming, healing influence in our communities as well.

For years, I’d frequently worried about coming down with a cold or maybe the flu during the winter; and sometimes I did. But through a deepening of my own “protests of Truth” and prayerful understanding, I’ve been able to counter that fear and defeat the suggestion that contagion is inevitable by seeing and accepting only God’s perfect creation—only His nature as divine Life expressed in vitality, health, and freedom. As I’ve understood more of God’s omnipotence, and the impotence of anything unlike God, my seasonal worries and the appearance of cold and flu symptoms have gradually dissolved, and I’ve been encouraged by the fact that I haven’t experienced any symptoms of seasonal or contagious illness for a number of years now.

Coincidence? Good fortune? Evidence of “a healthy constitution”? Actually, I see this newfound freedom as confirming and affirming the spiritual fact of our divinely maintained health and wholeness.

What would keep us from recognizing this? I’ve learned that it’s helpful to consider the mental elements that can weigh against our conviction that health really is our natural state of being, and one of those influences is fear. For example, the constant exposure to media coverage about contagious diseases can whip up a frenzy of fear that can indeed have a negative impact on human health. Science and Health speaks clearly to this issue when it says, “Fear is the fountain of sickness,…” (p. 391).

In light of today’s 24-hour news cycle, it seems clear to me that we can have a positive impact by taking a daily “dose” of the peace and power of individual clarity and spiritual wholeness. Prayer can lift us out of the swirl of fear, and it can be a calming, healing influence in our communities as well.

No matter how widespread a contagion  may be—even if it’s encircling the globe—it will never be more powerful than the all-encompassing, inviolate presence of divine Life, embracing each one of us in its safety and care. And our consistent acknowledgment of this fact for everyone, everywhere, makes it possible, right here and now, for us to see evidence that God alone truly does govern and sustain our health.

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