Effective prayer—wherever you are
We arrived at the Samaria Gorge in Crete, Greece, just as the sun was rising. The sunbeams bathed the towering rocks in a warm light, and I was excited to begin our 11-mile descent down the gorge.
I was studying art and philosophy in Greece, Italy, and Turkey with 21 other students from my college, and today we were hiking down the gorge to a beach at the very bottom. Our assignment was to take pictures of different rock formations, and initially, as we descended, I had a wonderful time chatting and laughing with friends while trying to take artsy pictures of the rocks. But near the end of our hike, I started to get a severe headache, which got even worse by the time we reached the beach. I didn’t want anything to interfere with the beautiful day I was having, so I tried to just forget about how much my head was bothering me and enjoy swimming in the crystal-clear water.
By the time we were ready to begin the journey back to our hotel, though, it was getting hard to just ignore the headache. I also realized that we still had a rough, 45-minute ferry ride and then a two-hour bus ride down a winding mountain road before we would get back into town—neither of which sounded very appealing, given the way I was feeling.
I didn’t want anything to interfere with the beautiful day I was having.
During the bus ride, I became really nauseated from the fast, sharp turns, and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to make it the rest of the way down the mountain. It was then that I realized that I needed to do what I should have done from the beginning: pray.
While it seemed like the thoughts of pain and nausea were almost impossible to resist, I knew from other experiences of praying for healing that I could turn away from those suggestions and surrender myself to God. In this particular situation, that meant getting very calm and praying the way Christ Jesus did when he faced down a storm with the words, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).
When I finally started to feel a little more peaceful, I had enough mental clarity to start praying with “the scientific statement of being” from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The ideas in this statement have helped and healed me many times because of their clear explanation of what God is, what reality is, and what I really am as God’s creation. The part that stood out to me this time was the ending, which says: “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468).
I understood that being spiritual, not material, meant I couldn’t be vulnerable to, or pained by, these suggestions of nausea and discomfort. Being spiritual means I am pure, whole, and safe. As God’s image and likeness, I reflect only God’s goodness, and that doesn’t include a headache.
I soon felt a strong sense of peace and God’s gentle presence wash over me.
As I prayed, a hymn by Mary Baker Eddy in the Christian Science Hymnal also came to mind. One line that really spoke to me was, “O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour” (No. 207). I knew that Life, God, was in charge of each “waiting hour” on that bus ride, so I couldn’t be in pain or discomfort. He was holding me in His loving embrace, and I could feel His gentle presence right with me.
I soon felt a strong sense of peace and God’s gentle presence wash over me, and I was able to rest calmly for the remainder of the bus ride. When we made it to town, I no longer felt any motion sickness, and the headache had significantly diminished. I was able to join the group for dinner, and ate without any problem.
Later, as I got into bed, I realized that I was free of pain. In the past, these types of headaches have lasted many hours, so I was especially grateful for the quickness and completeness of this healing!
Prayer is effective, and I’m grateful for experiences like this one, which continue to prove to me the power of prayer.