The please and thank you of prayer

When my daughter was a little girl, she invited a friend to spend the night. Her friend Barbie was instructed by her mother always to say "please" and "thank you." And that's exactly what Barbie did.

Every time she asked for something, she'd say, "Please and thank you." "May I have a glass of milk, please and thank you?" "May I have a cookie, please and thank you?"

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Finally my daughter couldn't stand it any longer. She said, "Barbie, you don't say 'please and thank you.' You say 'please' when you want it and 'thank you' when you get it!" But Barbie was very firm. She said, "My mommie said to say 'please and thank you' and that's the way it is."

This little exchange made quite an impression on me. I had been struggling for a week or two with pain, praying diligently in Christian Science. But I had made no headway. At the time of this incident I realized that, in a way, Barbie was right. In scientific prayer, at least, the ideal is not to say "please" when you want something and "thank you" when you get it but to include the "thank you" at the beginning.

When Jesus stood in front of Lazarus's tomb, he didn't say, "Please, Father, heal my friend" and then wait until Lazarus came forth before saying "Thank you, Father." He started out with, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me."John 11:41;

When the multitude sat before him hungry, Jesus didn't say, "Please, God, give them something to eat." "He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people....So they did eat, and were filled."Mark 8:6, 8;

I realized that I didn't need the "nail prints" of the healing in order to express gratitude for the truth of being. And so I dispelled the pain by starting my prayer with gratitude instead of waiting to say "thank you" when I was healed.

Why is gratitude to God an important element in healing? Gratitude acts as a kind of switch, which turns our human sense from suffering and fear to make a connection with the healing presence of God. The Bible teaches that God is Love, and divine Love knows what it's doing. Love is conscious and intelligent. It is infinite Mind, constituting all true consciousness, filling all space with loveliness, wisdom, and justice. Divine Love is universal. This Holy Spirit is everybody's Mind, everybody's immortal Soul. Divine Love is as energetic as it is gentle, as vital as it is tender, as dynamic as it is dear.

Humanity suffers from ignorance of this simple, marvelous fact. But divine Love is the supreme Principle, which Christ Jesus lived to prove. His example proved the prowess of divine Principle to sweep away human ignorance and error with revelation, spiritual intuition, and understanding.

The underlying laws of Jesus' practice are set forth in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. This book, the textbook of Christian Science, furnishes the information that eclipses ignorance. Divine Truth is true force, the vital law of dissolution to erroneous beliefs, and this Truth needs to be acknowledged, understood.

Prayer in Christian Science is not so much a petition asking God to do something. It is more an affirmation, an acknowledgment, an understanding, of what He has already done. Love's work is complete. Gratitude is the purest form of acknowledging this fact. It is joyously celebrating the unseen presence of goodness—acknowledging it with conviction that releases the perfume of joy

Gratitude is the epitome of affirmation. When this kind of gratitude comes before healing appears, it serves as a catalyst for the healing. When the human heart is convinced of God's omnipotent goodness, Love's omnipresent care, it rejoices. This acknowledgment of true being is a song of faith and surety, which heals. It demonstrates the coincidence between Deity and humanity. St. Paul writes, "In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."Phil. 4:6;

The presence of divine Love, understood and entertained, heals the human heart, mind, and body with incisive efficacy and finality. Mrs. Eddy writes: "Whatever guides thought spiritually benefits mind and body. We need to understand the affirmations of divine Science, dismiss superstition, and demonstrate truth according to Christ."Science and Health, p. 149.

God is not matter, nor is His creation material. Matter is not a kind of substance but a kind of sense—an erroneous sense or estimate of what is really here. Unseen to the ignorant, material senses is the presence of spiritual reality—God's universe reflecting all the perfection of intelligent divine Love. Reality is what's here, now. Reality is entirely good. Right where ignorance grieves over limitation, injustice, pain there, hidden by the fog of superstition and stolidity, is God and His idea, perfect spiritual man and perfect spiritual universe. In prayer we close our eyes to material sense with its illusions, and we deny its discords. We open our eyes to Spirit and affirm with joyful conviction that God is our Life—here, now, complete and perfect and permanent; that we are the immediate, spontaneous, individual reflection of divine Mind!

All that God is and has belongs to each of us as His reflection. We need to exercise the dynamics of gratitude, even when the senses cry out harshly that there is nothing to be grateful for. Yes, there is! There always is. There's always reality to be grateful for. The hereness and nowness of perfection is waiting for us to open the door marked "please and thank you."

Reliance on one Mind
September 11, 1978

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