From juvenile hall, a Christmas to remember

This article originally appeared on

Once while I was making my Saturday visit to a juvenile hall in California as a Christian Science chaplain, a girl in my Bible class, whom we will call Alice, gave me a Christmas I will always remember.

I had explained how Jesus’ words, which Mary Baker Eddy quotes at the beginning of her chapter on “Prayer” in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, work in answering prayer: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24) and “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8).

I asked the class to close their eyes and believe “real hard” that they were “out of here,” which is what most ask for in their prayers. Opening our eyes and finding ourselves still in the hall, I explained that Jesus’ promise obviously does not mean moving us “out of here” physically, but our prayers could be answered by our expressing the God-like love and freedom we associate with being at home and with our family. “Out of here” is actually a symbol of God’s love for us and should not be a condition for answered prayer; we’d just proved we were still separated from that material symbol.

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