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

An Effective Health Care Tool: Prayer

An Effective Health Care Tool: Prayer

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes only

by Don Ingwerson

Over the years while writing about the efficacy of prayer in healing, I have encountered many who personally experienced the power of prayer. What follows is one such story. A medical doctor wrote up his first-hand account, which was read by a pastor during a Dallas sermon. This is a condensed version:

In April 2011, I was working in the emergency department at Parkland Hospital, and the paramedics brought in a fairly young guy in cardiac arrest. Basically, it appeared he’d had a massive heart attack, and…he was essentially dead… I spoke to his wife and let her know that he had less than a 5% chance of having any meaningful neurological recovery. She…called a friend to pray for him… This friend promised her she would pray for him, and their family as well. The next morning…he opened his eyes and began to squeeze his wife’s hand… God had mercy on their family and healed him in a miraculous way.

Can prayer heal someone? David Larson, MD, MSPH, president of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, writes: “NIHR studies show that participation in religious worship can reduce stress, decrease the potential for addiction disorders, high blood pressure, and cancer, and reduce psychiatric symptoms in those suffering from mental disorders. NIHR has found that prayer and religious commitment can improve recovery rates and shorten the length of a patient’s hospitalization.”

Diane McNaughton presents an in-depth discussion of spirituality and healing, as well as another “miracle” story, in “Faith and spirituality may play a big role in staying healthy.” One way she explains how scientists view prayer is “at its most elementary level, all forms of prayer, with its repetition of words and sounds, evoke a relaxation response that calms stress and promotes healing…” My own concept of prayer goes beyond reducing stress to a quiet sense of listening to God’s voice and the turning of my thought to God for a clear sense of the divine Presence.

Views have continued to shift from the strictly physical healing methods to more support of the spiritual, pointing to the importance of prayer in healing. Increased attention has been directed toward the effects of spirituality and prayer in caring for one’s health. Dr. Mitchell Krucoff at Duke University Medical Center has studied the links between health, prayer, and spirituality for decades and he confirms a positive connection.

Many view prayer as a thought-changer that opens one to the presence of good. This good is described by Dr. Krucoff: “All of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions.”

This view in current research tends to support the findings of Mary Baker Eddy, a health researcher and theologian, who was a pioneer in this modern day exploration of spiritual healing in the late 19th century. Even though there are many ideas on exactly what prayer is and how much can be accomplished through prayer, the effectiveness of prayer is gaining ground with the public and the scientific community.

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

© GLOW IMAGES

A guest post written by B. B. Prest from San Diego, California.

Ready for that turkey dinner this year? And what about giving thanks – will that be on the menu? For many of us it will be. But for others, it may not.

In thinking about giving thanks, I am reminded of the Biblical account from Luke about the ten lepers who were healed, and Christ Jesus’ question to the one (a Samaritan) who returned to give thanks, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”

Good question.

How sad it would be to be counted as one of the “nine” who never returned to give thanks. Let’s face it; this is Christ Jesus we’re talking about.

This passage ties healing to faith and gratitude, according to J. R. Dummelow’s Bible Commentary. Christ Jesus never speaks of healing, but instructs the lepers to “go show themselves to the priests.” Their obedience and faith become instrumental to their healing. And although the nine did not return, I’m sure they were grateful that they were healed. But the Samaritan’s gratitude seemed to exceed that of the others. He took action. He returned. Not just to give thanks to Christ Jesus, but to acknowledge God.

It’s no coincidence that in the next passage the Pharisees question when the Kingdom of God should come. Jesus answers that it does not come with observation, neither “here” nor “there,” but is “within you;” that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual power and source of good already at work in our lives, not simply a physical location, object, or circumstance.

Celebrating Thanksgiving before Christmas and New Year’s seems so fitting and parallels this account and its surrounding passages. It reminds us that faith and gratitude to God can result in blessings and new beginnings in our lives. A faith that can realize the impossible, and gratitude that recognizes the good already present within us, based on our spiritual relationship to God as His expression.

Mary Baker Eddy speaks of this in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.” And on November 29, 1900, when asked by the Boston Globe for a sentiment as to what Thanksgiving should signify, Eddy replied that “divine Love, impartial and universal, as understood in divine Science, forms the coincidence of the human and divine, which fulfils the saying of our great Master, ‘The kingdom of God is within you;’”

So this holiday season, before we open that holiday gift or draft up our New Year’s resolutions, let’s first give gratitude for and have faith in God’s ever-present source of goodness and grace already in our lives, our families’ lives, our communities, and our country. Not only will we have a fulfilling Thanksgiving, but we’ll also experience the true meaning of giving and receiving this Christmas, and realize a spiritual sense of renewal for the coming New Year.

Now that’s something to give thanks about. Happy thanks giving!

Article previously published November 20, 2012

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.

Put a “Be” Before Healthy

Put a "Be" Before Healthy

© GLOW IMAGES
Model used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Ingrid Peschke, health blogger, legislative liaison for Christian Science and spirituality in Massachusetts

So often the emphasis is on the “doing” not the “being” when it comes to caring for one’s health. People do all sorts of things, from taking daily medications to undergoing treatments and procedures to find out if they are healthy or not. Yet despite all these efforts, health can still be illusive.

All this emphasis on the doing is adding up to a high-cost health care system in the U.S. According to a recent New York Times article, “When it comes to medical care, many patients and doctors believe more is better. But an epidemic of overtreatment — too many scans, too many blood tests, too many procedures — is costing the nation’s health care system at least $210 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine, and taking a human toll in pain, emotional suffering, severe complications and even death.”

I know a woman who juggles a busy family life and active career, while staying physically fit and involved in her community. She recently went through several routine cancer screenings that resulted in a very stressful few weeks. She had a hard time sleeping and concentrating while she waited for the results. They came back negative–a relief, but to which she said, “At least for now…”

According to the Times article, many of these tests create unnecessary complications and a climate of concern. Don’t we all deserve to live life fully without the fear of “what if’s” hanging like a noose around our lives? What about the importance of allowing people to enjoy simply being healthy? Think about it: the state of being means you are participating in the process. It means you are alive, whole, active, thoughtful, present, aware. In a word: Healthy.

As someone who regularly practices spiritual care from what I’ve learned through my study of Christian Science, I’ve gotten used to thinking about maintaining health as a “be.” My daily prayer practice (which to an observer can look a lot like I’m not doing anything) involves quiet contemplation of the spiritual and biblical principles that support good health.

I’ve discussed many of these guiding principles on this blog–and they’re ones others, including medical practitioners, recognize for their health value as well. Practices like choosing forgiveness over resentment, patience over anger, calm instead of stress, happiness instead of gloom. I’ve found that having a deep conviction in Spirit as a guiding power and presence in my life allows me to express these qualities with consistency and confidence.

Placebo studies offer another window into the “doing” culture that has become mainstream in our health care industry. Even sham procedures or sugar pills can produce positive outcomes. Why? In large part because something was “done”–even if it was nothing!

This week I came across a nurse practitioner’s view of spiritual care (see Nursing Course Puts Focus on Spiritual Care). Her comments relate directly to this topic. For the past 10 years, Carol Bradford Mayfield used her skills as a nurse to be a faith community nurse for her church. “As nurses, we are used to doing,” Bradford said. “We’re very task oriented. As faith community nurses, we have to learn how to be (rather) than to do.”

Now she’s putting that experience to work in the classroom, teaching an online continuing education course in faith community nursing at Western Kentucky University. Her course “puts a primary focus on the spiritual care of a patient” where students “learn to listen, rather than talk, as well as provide prayer when appropriate.”

Listening is a key ingredient in effective prayer. Guided by intuition and divine inspiration, prayer is really the doing so we can just be.

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

© GLOW IMAGES

A guest post written by B. B. Prest

Ready for that turkey dinner this year? And what about giving thanks – will that be on the menu? For many of us it will be. But for others, it may not.

In thinking about giving thanks, I am reminded of the Biblical account from Luke about the ten lepers who were healed, and Christ Jesus’ question to the one (a Samaritan) who returned to give thanks, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”

Good question.

How sad it would be to be counted as one of the “nine” who never returned to give thanks. Let’s face it; this is Christ Jesus we’re talking about.

This passage ties healing to faith and gratitude, according to J. R. Dummelow’s Bible Commentary. Christ Jesus never speaks of healing, but instructs the lepers to “go show themselves to the priests.” Their obedience and faith become instrumental to their healing. And although the nine did not return, I’m sure they were grateful that they were healed. But the Samaritan’s gratitude seemed to exceed that of the others. He took action. He returned. Not just to give thanks to Christ Jesus, but to acknowledge God.

It’s no coincidence that in the next passage the Pharisees question when the Kingdom of God should come. Jesus answers that it does not come with observation, neither “here” nor “there,” but is “within you;” that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual power and source of good already at work in our lives, not simply a physical location, object, or circumstance.

Celebrating Thanksgiving before Christmas and New Year’s seems so fitting and parallels this account and its surrounding passages. It reminds us that faith and gratitude to God can result in blessings and new beginnings in our lives. A faith that can realize the impossible, and gratitude that recognizes the good already present within us, based on our spiritual relationship to God as His expression.

Mary Baker Eddy speaks of this in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.” And on November 29, 1900, when asked by the Boston Globe for a sentiment as to what Thanksgiving should signify, Eddy replied that “divine Love, impartial and universal, as understood in divine Science, forms the coincidence of the human and divine, which fulfils the saying of our great Master, ‘The kingdom of God is within you;’”

So this holiday season, before we open that holiday gift or draft up our New Year’s resolutions, let’s first give gratitude for and have faith in God’s ever-present source of goodness and grace already in our lives, our families’ lives, our communities, and our country. Not only will we have a fulfilling Thanksgiving, but we’ll also experience the true meaning of giving and receiving this Christmas, and realize a spiritual sense of renewal for the coming New Year.

Now that’s something to give thanks about. Happy thanks giving!

Analytical Thinking: A Faith Buster?

Analytical Thinking: A Faith Buster?

Photo illustrated by Philippe Put

A guest post by Robin Collins

Does analytical thinking undermine religion? I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times about social psychologists who are investigating this question. The Times presents the views of Will Gervais, lead author of “Analytical Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief” published in the April 27th issue of Science. He states that instead of treating science and religion as separate, there is now an academic effort “to understand religion and why our species has the capacity for religion.”

In this study, experimental results suggest that analytical thinking may tend to override the intuitive process thought to be associated with religious belief. A possible conclusion is that even our most fundamental beliefs and values may not be as firmly fixed as we have assumed. I tend to be analytical, so this research got me wondering how I look at faith. A definition of faith found in the English Standard Version of the Bible is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I think of faith as a different form of sight, one that penetrates beneath the surface of life, but with certainty, not merely guesswork or wishful thinking.

An example of this faith can be found in the following story:

One day a child I knew became seriously ill, and coincidentally his behavior had not been so great either. From previous experience, his mom believed the two conditions to be related. Accustomed to praying when she saw he was troubled – mentally or physically – she made a great effort to help him in this way, but without the needed results. At this point the symptoms were acute. Then came a flash of insight to love him in a fresh way by releasing the belief that his unruliness was making him sick. She immediately called a Christian Science practitioner to prayerfully support this fresh idea. Off the phone, she felt a strong impulse to pray out loud the Lord’s Prayer. She did so fervently and found that each biblical phrase opened a specific aspect of divine goodness. By the last line of the prayer her child sat up and asked for something to eat. He was completely well. Upon hearing what happened, the practitioner paused in profound silence – she also had prayed with the Lord’s Prayer. Both had “gotten the memo,” proceeding independently, reasonably and with deep inspiration. Subsequently, the boy’s behavior improved, and the mother’s outlook on life and relationships was significantly altered.

Can that family’s experience shed light on conclusions about faith from research on human thinking? Were logic and intuition working in parallel or inherently entwined? Was religious conviction undermined, or underpinned, by rational thought?

An early investigator of the relationship between divine inspiration, rationality, and health was Mary Baker Eddy, who, through her own experiments discovered that logic and practical science were included in true faith in Deity. In her book Science and Health, she wrote that she found the Hebrew and Greek meaning of the English translated word “belief” had “…more the significance of faith, understanding, trust, constancy, firmness. Hence the Scriptures often appear…to approve and endorse belief, when they mean to enforce the necessity of understanding.” Eddy’s testing of Christianity as divine Science included the cure of all sorts of diseases and illnesses, deformities, physical and mental impairments, and moral issues.

Is rationality a faith-buster or a faith-booster? I plan to keep an eye on the latest research.

Science and Faith

Science and Faith

Jesus healing a woman with issue of blood – Photo illustrated by Sharon Mollerus

A guest post written by Jennifer Glaser

The Santa Monica Christian Science Church recently hosted an area Interfaith Meeting to discuss the topic: “Science and Faith: Are these compatible, in conflict, or irrelevant to each other?” Although spirituality has been the core of healing as far back as human existence, physical scientists, including those in the medical community, have not recognized it as legitimate method until recently. Increasingly, though, modern medicine is convinced that a holistic approach to science and spirituality is necessary for healing.

This meeting was opened with prayer by a Sikh member who expressed gratitude for all the goodness of Mother/Father God, for all life, and for the opportunity to hold the meeting with friends of many faiths. After the prayer, the discussion of science and faith started with a Muslim member who asked for a Christian Scientist to explain what is meant by the words Christian and science, why they are linked, and how this teaching can heal the body.Continue Reading

Faith As a Grain of Mustard Seed

 

Faith As a Grain of Mustard Seed

photo by Chris Willis

A guest post written by Karen Sevaly

Ever since I was little, I have been familiar with Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed where Jesus instructs, “if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.”

When this parable appeared in the Christian Science Bible lesson a few weeks ago, I suddenly had a completely different view of what Jesus was attempting to teach us. I had always thought that the story of the mustard seed was basically telling us that all we needed was just a  “little faith” in order for us to demonstrate God’s divine power. Oh, I was so wrong!Continue Reading

Faith Influences Health

Faith Influences Health

Bob Clark

A guest post written by Robert B. Clark, Committee on Publication for Florida

Bob Clark’s post below is a portion of his article, Faith influences health, many believe, which is published at the St. Petersburg Times website. Bob is a friend and colleague. I believe you will enjoy the read.

Question: Does spirituality play an important role in being and staying healthy?

Research indicates that many of us would say yes. Spirituality, defined as a belief in and appeal to a spiritual power outside the body, is more prevalent in America than you might think. A 2008 Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life poll shows that:Continue Reading