Prayer that reaches across oceans
My college-aged son is studying in Spain for the semester—an ocean away from home. At one point he called to tell me that he was feeling very poorly. He couldn’t get out of bed and was in pain, and he asked me to pray for him.
At first I just felt helpless. He was so far away; how could I take care of him and ensure that he was safe? What good could my prayers do from all the way across the ocean?
Yet through my study of Christian Science, I have experienced the power of prayer. I’ve seen that even when we are far away from someone we love, heartfelt and dedicated prayer affirming God’s goodness and loving care has a very healing effect.
He was so far away; how could I take care of him and ensure that he was safe?
Christ Jesus proved just how effective prayer can be. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote that Jesus’ “humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,—of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love” (p. 12). Through her years of prayer, study of the Bible, and healing work, Mrs. Eddy showed—as Jesus had—that even from a distance, a silent prayer voicing spiritual truth is powerful. As Science and Health explains: “The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear” (p. 559).
For me, a big part of prayer is listening for inspiration, turning my thought to God for answers. But it’s also an affirmation of spiritual laws that come from God and govern each of us as spiritual offspring of the Divine—an acknowledgment of God’s goodness, power, and presence. Like the law of gravity, although we can’t see God with our eyes, still God’s power is always present to secure and firmly ground our steps.
Prayer also opens our eyes to the fact that God maintains our spiritual and indefatigable nature. The Bible assures us that God made each one of us whole, strong, and good. God’s care and provisions keep us this way. Even in dark places of fear, or when the evidence before us seems to indicate otherwise, there isn’t a moment when we are alone or outside of God’s powerful reign. No one can ever stray from God’s protection and attention. Our divine Parent is everywhere. Opening our heart to these truths inspires solutions that lead us to health and peace.
That day when my son called, as I tried to settle my thought, I thought of an account in the Gospel of Matthew. A centurion, or commander in the Roman army, came to Jesus and asked him to heal his servant, who was back at his home and gravely ill. The commander didn’t feel it was necessary for Jesus to be physically present with the sick man in order to heal him. Jesus marveled at his trust and faith in the power of prayer, and indeed, the servant became completely well that very hour (see Matthew 8:5–13).
Even when we are far away from someone we love, heartfelt and dedicated prayer affirming God’s goodness and loving care has a very healing effect.
It occurred to me that not only was it important that I pray diligently, but that I trust wholeheartedly that prayer based on spiritual fact is effective. And so I spent the next few hours affirming God’s care; and affirming my son’s God-given right, as a beautiful creation of God, to experience freedom and joy; and affirming that such prayer does have an impact.
In fact, I kept right on praying until I felt certain that my son was well. And I was so grateful when I got a text from him shortly after that, telling me that he felt perfectly well and thanking me for praying.
Many sons and daughters—our own or others’—across the globe are needing our prayers right now. We can trust that even if we’re an ocean away, our “conscientious protests” of God’s all-encompassing power and of everyone’s right to freedom and peace are effective in helping to meet all kinds of needs.
Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor’s Christian Science Perspective column, March 23, 2022.