Pray the way the wren sings
If you’re a tiny wren in a big forest, you have to learn to sing persistently in order to thrive. I know this because we have a wren who sings like that in our woods. He’s astonishing. Sometimes he spends almost his whole day singing—affirming, protesting, belting out his pure desire, his distinct identity, and his great jubilance.
I have found that sometimes I am required to pray like the wren sings—with consistent affirmation, confident protest, vigilant alertness, and a ready response to the light of Truth. Persistent prayer, like the little wren’s big song, means holding forth with high fidelity to honor the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), the always-present God-principle, Love.
Honoring the God-principle in prayer means recognizing the allness and foreverness of good and the neverness of anything else. As we do this, our all-powerful Father-Mother Love gently and thoroughly removes the fear pictures that mortality presents, until we see that they actually have no power at all. “Where the spirit of God is, and there is no place where God is not, evil becomes nothing,—the opposite of the something of Spirit,” writes Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 480).
One time over a year ago, I learned something about this kind of patient, persistent prayer. I became ill with flu-like symptoms that were accompanied by a host of fearful “what ifs” coming and going like ocean waves.
Like many others, I’ve had powerful healing experiences through practicing Christian Science. I know it heals. In this instance, though, because news about disease and contagion was rampant, the problem felt particularly scary. Honestly, I just wanted it to go away. Still, I knew I needed to face the symptoms associated with these hourly news reports with confidence and assurance, not just ignore them or try to wish them away with a few Bible verses and call it good. That would not be honestly, wholeheartedly practicing the Science inherent in Christianity. So, instead of going to sleep, I reached out in prayer to sincerely trust, understand, and feel the gentle assurances of divine Love.
Wanting to be mindful of the concerns of others, I simply settled into my bedroom to rest in the embrace of an infinitely caring Father-Mother God. I prayed to know the truth of this comforting thought: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18). Then I leaned back to let Love, God, dissolve my fears and take care of me.
By the time supper came and went, I was less fearful but physically no better. I went to bed and woke up an hour later feeling worse, with new symptoms and more fear waves rushing in—“What if I have X, Y, or Z?” “What if this thing progresses?” “What if I die?”
But then this question lit up the room: “What if Love really is All?”
As I pondered it, I sensed the deep reality of Love’s power. From that point on I had the conviction that nothing could make me believe that these symptoms of illness were anything more than “waking dream-shadows, dark images of mortal thought, which flee before the light of Truth” (Science and Health, p. 418).
I spent the next few hours “contending persistently for truth” (Science and Health, p. 400), sticking with Spirit, God, as the one and only power, which was surrounding and caring for me and everyone else in the world. I did this as joyfully as I could. Sitting up in bed and facing down the discomfort with Love’s gentle tenderness, I began to feel more peaceful and safe.
As I was praying, I thought about a piece of classical music I’d been practicing on the piano earlier that month. It’s an exquisitely beautiful piece but really hard to learn. Sometimes it felt impossible. I loved it so much, though, and had been committed to mastering it.
For a week I had grappled with those difficult passages and stuck with it until I was no longer stumbling all over the place. Then I put on the metronome and gradually worked it up to speed. Finally, I got to where I was able to play the whole thing without a mistake. This had brought me no small delight!
As I remembered this experience, I realized that finding our way to healing through prayer can sometimes be like that. It may take patience, consecration, and humble persistence to grapple with those mistakes—those pushy mortal beliefs and fearful suggestions—before we come to recognize disease for what it actually is: unreal. When we experience the true scientific mental healing that Jesus practiced, we know it’s rock-solid and undeniable. It’s grounded in Truth, not psychological phenomena. It’s spiritual health and well-being revealed.
It’s work, yes. But it’s good work. And we don’t have to be dismayed or afraid to step up and patiently persist in it. Mrs. Eddy writes, “There is nothing difficult nor toilsome in this task, when the way is pointed out; but self-denial, sincerity, Christianity, and persistence alone win the prize, as they usually do in every department of life” (Science and Health, p. 462).
I did have another up-and-down night, but I knew this meant only that I needed to keep patiently persisting. I realized I could practice Truth the same way I had practiced that piano piece. Every time I felt one of those fear waves wash over me, I mentally stood my ground and practiced expressing the true model of man that God composed and created.
Toward dawn on the third day, I woke to this comforting idea: “Your life is just as safe, complete, whole, sound, free, and gorgeous as that musical piece you love so much. You are no more a collection of chemical reactions or physical symptoms than that piece is a mere collection of random marks on a page. And like that song, you have a distinct, spiritual identity. You are a complete idea of divine Life, Love. God has composed you. You are Her masterpiece, and Love plays you without a single mistake.”
After a while, I felt better but still not totally myself. I wasn’t dismayed, though. I just knew I had a little more practicing to do. I took extra quiet time alone that morning to read and study that week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly. I let myself live inside those truths and light-filled ideas I was reading, and before long I was completely well.
I got myself some breakfast and launched into my daily routine, no longer ill or afraid. I stacked wood, worked in the garden while listening to the birds, and went swimming in a pool below a waterfall. Later that day when I got home, I played that beautiful piece on the piano while the sun lit up the maple leaves in our yard.