Absolute Faith vs Blind Belief

college kids

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Donna Clifton from Whittier, California.

I vividly remember the first time someone made a disparaging remark to me about the power of prayer to heal. Having been raised as a Christian Scientist, I was used to turning to God in prayer whenever a healing was needed. I took it for granted that my prayers—and those of my parents—would always be effective. As a child, long before I understood much about God’s law that governs us all, I simply trusted that because God is all-good, all powerful, and all-loving, healing would always result from my prayers.

So I was taken by surprise that day when someone I scarcely knew made a sarcastic comment to me about praying for healing. I was a freshman in college and had been planning to go somewhere with a group of friends but at the last minute declined because of a severe headache. A friend in the group who knew I was a Christian Scientist informed the others that I wouldn’t be going with them because I need to stay behind to pray for a healing.

Immediately one of the young men in the group that I had just met spoke up and said, “Well, pray hard!” in a very sarcastic voice. Several of the others laughed at his remark. I didn’t reply, not knowing what to say just then. But I did get healed through prayer that day, just as I had many times before.

Why is it so difficult for some to believe that prayer heals? I think it’s because 1) they don’t know what prayer is, 2) they have been taught that healing results from medical treatment, and 3) they don’t understand that “God is a very present help in trouble” as the Bible states (Psalms 46:1). Christian Scientists have learned that they can certainly trust God, not only with physical problems, but also with any problems that need healing – relationships, employment, bad habits, etc. We also know that it isn’t blind belief that heals. Neither is it repetition of words nor any “magic” phrases that bring healing.

In her book, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy describes prayer as an “absolute faith that all things are possible to God, —a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.” (S&H 1:2) She distinguishes between absolute faith that is based on an understanding of God’s power to heal and “mere belief” (or blind belief) which denotes no understanding and is not a reliable means of healing.

As a young child, I could put my faith in God through simple trust in His goodness and omnipotence. But as I grew older, I realized that I needed a deeper understanding of God’s healing power. And as I gain this understanding day by day, I continue to have healings. Once after a long cross-country flight, I again faced a debilitating headache that prevented me from even sitting up or eating anything. I asked my sister to read to me from Science & Health, and while I listened, I acquired a better understanding of how God’s law governs me and everyone, and that my health is not precarious.

Suddenly the headache was gone, and I felt strong and completely well. The healing was so instantaneous that it was as if a light switch had been flicked on and light flooded the room, vanquishing the darkness. I realized that listening for messages of healing and accepting them was a form of prayer, and that was what healed me.

This kind of prayer is based on the spiritual understanding of God’s healing power and of our true spiritual nature. And this understanding leads to healing.

Now that I’m wiser about how prayer heals, if I were to meet up with the same guy whose sarcasm had disconcerted me that day in college, I would reassure him that prayer really does heal, and that I am a living testament to that fact. Spiritual healing is the proof of God’s healing power.

Article originally published January 29, 2013

What if We Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas?

What if We Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas?

© GLOW IMAGES

A guest post written by Donna Clifton from Whittier, California.

“Christmas is all about getting exactly what you want!”

Believe it or not, those were the actual words in a radio advertisement I heard, and they dismayed me. Although the normal mantra is that Christmas is about giving, not getting, this sentiment is belied by the questions we often hear right after Christmas: “What did you get?” “Was Santa good to you this year?”

The desire to get what we want is natural, but to make that the focus of Christmas obliterates the real meaning of Christmas. We protest that we know it’s all about giving. Unfortunately this kind of giving mainly means shopping, shopping, shopping.

Traditional Christmas gift giving probably won’t change any time soon, but what if we make a more concerted effort to shift the focus back to the true purpose of celebrating Christmas – the birth of Christ in this world? What if we did that instead of making Christmas mainly about giving gifts to each other? What if We Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas?

One thing my family has done to minimize the gift giving is to have a “secret Santa” exchange of gifts. Rather than everyone buying a gift for every member of the family, we each draw a name and then only get that one person a gift. Even children can participate in this type of giving. This has helped our family focus less on the material aspect of Christmas and more on the spiritual message.

And this spiritual message – the true spirit of Christmas – is to thank God for giving us Christ Jesus. This kind of gratitude is best expressed in deeds, not words – and also leads to a healthier outlook on life.

19th-century health researcher and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Action expresses more gratitude than speech.” She goes on to say: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds. To keep the commandments of our Master and follow his example, is our proper debt to him and the only worthy evidence of our gratitude for all that he has done.”

This Christmas season I have been thanking God for all the good in my life, especially the healings I’ve experienced through reliance on God. I believe God gives us everything we really need – such as His ever present, all-encompassing love. Isn’t that much more meaningful than a new red sweater, a DVD, or an iPad?

I am not just thanking God with words but am striving to express gratitude with unselfish deeds and a more patient, understanding heart. The giving of loving kindness to each other is the most meaningful gift of all. And giving gratitude to God for Christ Jesus is expressing the real spirit of Christmas.

Absolute Faith vs Blind Belief

Absolute Faith vs Blind Belief

© GLOW IMAGES
Models used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Donna Clifton

I vividly remember the first time someone made a disparaging remark to me about the power of prayer to heal. Having been raised as a Christian Scientist, I was used to turning to God in prayer whenever a healing was needed. I took it for granted that my prayers—and those of my parents—would always be effective. As a child, long before I understood much about God’s law that governs us all, I simply trusted that because God is all-good, all powerful, and all-loving, healing would always result from my prayers.

So I was taken by surprise that day when someone I scarcely knew made a sarcastic comment to me about praying for healing. I was a freshman in college and had been planning to go somewhere with a group of friends but at the last minute declined because of a severe headache. A friend in the group who knew I was a Christian Scientist informed the others that I wouldn’t be going with them because I need to stay behind to pray for a healing.

Immediately one of the young men in the group that I had just met spoke up and said, “Well, pray hard!” in a very sarcastic voice. Several of the others laughed at his remark. I didn’t reply, not knowing what to say just then. But I did get healed through prayer that day, just as I had many times before.

Why is it so difficult for some to believe that prayer heals? I think it’s because 1) they don’t know what prayer is, 2) they have been taught that healing results from medical treatment, and 3) they don’t understand that “God is a very present help in trouble” as the Bible states (Psalms 46:1). Christian Scientists have learned that they can certainly trust God, not only with physical problems, but also with any problems that need healing – relationships, employment, bad habits, etc. We also know that it isn’t blind belief that heals. Neither is it repetition of words nor any “magic” phrases that bring healing.

In her book, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy describes prayer as an “absolute faith that all things are possible to God, —a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.” (S&H 1:2) She distinguishes between absolute faith that is based on an understanding of God’s power to heal and “mere belief” (or blind belief) which denotes no understanding and is not a reliable means of healing.

As a young child, I could put my faith in God through simple trust in His goodness and omnipotence. But as I grew older, I realized that I needed a deeper understanding of God’s healing power. And as I gain this understanding day by day, I continue to have healings. Once after a long cross-country flight, I again faced a debilitating headache that prevented me from even sitting up or eating anything. I asked my sister to read to me from Science & Health, and while I listened, I acquired a better understanding of how God’s law governs me and everyone, and that my health is not precarious.

Suddenly the headache was gone, and I felt strong and completely well. The healing was so instantaneous that it was as if a light switch had been flicked on and light flooded the room, vanquishing the darkness. I realized that listening for messages of healing and accepting them was a form of prayer, and that was what healed me.

This kind of prayer is based on the spiritual understanding of God’s healing power and of our true spiritual nature. And this understanding leads to healing.

Now that I’m wiser about how prayer heals, if I were to meet up with the same guy whose sarcasm had disconcerted me that day in college, I would reassure him that prayer really does heal, and that I am a living testament to that fact. Spiritual healing is the proof of God’s healing power.

Celebrating Life

Celebrating Life

photo illustrated by Kevin Davenport

A guest post written by Donna Clifton

When a long-time member passed on recently, our church decided to have a “Celebration of Life” service to honor her. It was a joyous occasion attended by friends, family, and acquaintances, with the church auditorium filled nearly to capacity. She was remembered as a cheerful, giving, loving person involved in numerous community activities. Many of her friends who attended the celebration had never been inside a Christian Science church before that day. We all came together to celebrate her life – the life that is still going on.

This occasion was an uplifting event rather than a mournful memorial. We were reminded that life is eternal and our dear friend is still living her life in her same cheerful way. Christian Scientists use the term “pass on” rather than “die” because we have learned that a person’s life does not end when that person passes. We know that God is Life and that all of us forever express the eternalness, immortality, and vitality of His creation.

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All God’s Children

All God's Children

Stained glass in Bungay Church showing various good deeds.

A guest post written by Donna Clifton

My neighbors in our small planned-unit development of about 40 homes are of diverse ethnic heritages. A family on one side of my home is Hispanic-American, while on the other side they are African-American. Across the street is an Asian-American family. My own family is European-American. However, I wasn’t even conscious of how diverse my immediate neighbors were until a visitor pointed it out to me. When you live next to someone for a long time, you don’t notice their race as much as whether you can borrow each other’s power tools or trade recipes. Of course, sometimes the discussions are livelier: “Why did you paint your house that color?” Still, in the 15 years I’ve lived there, while there have been disputes between neighbors, I’ve never heard one remark that could be characterized as based on racial prejudice.Continue Reading