The Practicality of Prayer

The Practicality of Prayer

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Graham Bothwell from La Cañada Flintridge, California

We live in a world where we face an onslaught of observations and conclusions based on scientific and engineering research. It’s easy to be convinced that life is entirely organic and physical; that our health is governed primarily by physiological and environmental conditions; that prayer is of little or no value in most circumstances — or perhaps prayer might be appealed to as a last resort.

On the other hand, numerous people have discovered that prayer is a good day-by-day tool for maintaining health. Each one of us has a purely spiritual side, which truly governs us; we can think of prayer as aligning our thought with what is spiritually true about ourselves.

For example, it’s generally accepted that contagious illnesses spread between people when the relevant conditions of exposure are present. On more than one occasion I’ve avoided such situations effectively. What comes to mind is a number of instances in my place of work where multiple staff members were absent because of a widespread illness, and people were speculating about who might get it next.

I started to feel the symptoms myself, but quickly recognized what was happening, and turned my thought firmly to understand that divine Life, or God, the infinite good that knows nothing unlike Himself, is the Creator of my life. With this realization, the symptoms dissolved, and I was able to continue with my work, unafraid and safe, interacting normally with others in the office.

In those instances, what I experienced was unlikely to be mere positive thinking; it certainly wasn’t just the immune system doing its job; and I doubt that one can reliably say things would have happened in that manner anyway, — multiple experiences of this kind indicate a pattern of specific response to prayer.

The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century pioneer of spiritual healing, Mary Baker Eddy, was pointed in her conclusion about the mental causation of physical effects. When asked by the New York Herald about her approach to contagion, her response was, “If I harbored that idea about a disease, I should think myself in danger of catching it.” She held an unambiguous, spiritual viewpoint associated with her extensive work in curing many forms of illness.

It’s encouraging today to see so many people convinced that their health is not necessarily dependent upon physiological explanations and treatments, and that there are other approaches available to provide a sound basis for stable, healthy, life experiences.

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.


  1. Dan Miller says

    Thanks Grahm for your guest post. We need to agree to disagree with anything unlike good that comes to our thought….standing porter. It is definitely effective to turn our thoughts to God and know we are his perfect idea.

  2. Adrienne says

    As my granddaughter was complaining of a bad sore throat yesterday, I found that by afternoon, my throat was getting scratchy! It didn’t take long to realize that this was nothing more than a contagious suggestion that I could reverse quite easily by knowing myself(and her) as a child of God and that the only thing we can catch from each other is good…good health can certainly be contagious too! Thank you for writing!

  3. Evelyn, Laguna Hills says

    We all can learn that a change of thought brings positive results – negative thoughts reap what they are believing. An important discussion. Thanks

  4. says

    Thanks Graham, we certainly can get caught off guard if we are not alert to those suggestions that something is contagious. Mary Baker Eddy wrote about contagion this way. She said, “People believe in infectious and contagious diseases,…This mental state prepares one to have any disease whenever there appear the circumstances which he believes produce it. If he believed as sincerely that health is catching when exposed to contact with healthy people, he would catch their state of feeling quite as surely and with better effect than he does the sick man’s.”

  5. Noie says

    Such a wonderful outlook this article defines. I like to think that we can express well being for ourselves and those around us. We don’t have to be a “sponge” and just absorb!

  6. Rhonda says

    Yes, I have found a state of thought that does not accept the inevitability of contagious disease, but does accept the spiritual fact of our God derived safety from disease, does indeed protect us from contagion. My family has been flu and cold free this winter without flu shots or medication of any kind. (=

  7. Anne says

    A very timely topic as we’re coming into spring, and I enjoyed the example of how an uplifted thought can change a physical discomfort into one of harmony and freedom.

    Years ago, I used to be annoyed and maybe a little anxious when people would start talking about their illnesses or coming down with a contagious disease. But I’ve learned to quietly embrace them in God’s love, remembering what the Bible says: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). That good includes everyone, even if he/she is not aware of it. I’ve also found this way of thinking to be a protection for me too.

    Thank you for sharing these ideas.

  8. WendyR says

    This is exactly the reminder I needed today! Instead of resigning myself to the idea of contagion, I’ll hold firmly to the fact that we are all beloved ideas of God, wholly good. As such, love, goodness, and the like are the only things we pass amongst ourselves – “no ill, since God is good.”

  9. Anne from Agoura says

    Thank you Graham. Good to face and refuse contagion because God is in control. I liked Anne’s idea of embracing others in love when they talk of their ills.