Science and Health with Key to The Scriptures
CHAPTER I - PRAYER
verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou
removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but
shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall
have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye
desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Your
Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.
THE prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick
is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, a spiritual
understanding of Him, an unselfed love. Regardless of what another may say or
think on this subject, I speak from experience. Prayer, watching, and working,
combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing
whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of
mankind. Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is
prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may
be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.
What are the motives for prayer? Do we pray to make
ourselves better or to benefit those who hear us, o enlighten the infinite or
to be heard of men? Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes
forth hungering after righteoustness is blessed of our Father, and it does not
return unto us void.
God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more
than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good,
since He is unchanging wisdom and Love. We can do more for ourselves by humble
fervent petitions, but the All-loving does not grant them simply on the ground
of lipservice, for He already knows all. Prayer cannot change the Science of
being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it. Goodness attains the
demonstration of Truth. A request that God will save us is not all that is
required. The mere habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads with a
human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed, an error
which impedes spiritual growth.
God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is
intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already
comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at the
open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept? The unspoken desire
does bring us nearer the source of all existence and blessedness. Asking God to
be God is a vain repetition. God is "the same yesterday, and today, and
forever;" and He who is immutably right will do right without being reminded of
His province. The wisdom of man is not sufficient to warrant him in advising
The spiritual mathematics
Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the
principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established,
and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine Principle
of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail
ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to
work out our own salvation. The Divine Being must be reflected by man, else man
is not the image and likeness of the patient, tender, and true, the One
"altogether lovely;" but to understand God is the work of eternity, and demands
absolute consecration of thought, energy, and desire.
How empty are our conceptions of Deity! We admit
theoretically that God is good, omnipotent, omni- present, infinite, and then
we try to give information to this infinite Mind. We plead for unmerited pardon
and for a liberal outpouring of benefactions. 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. Gratitude is much more than a verbal
expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech. If we are
ungrateful for Life, Truth, and Love, and yet return thanks to God for all
blessings, we are insincere and incur the sharp censure our Master pronounces
on hypocrites. In such a case, the only acceptable prayer is to put the finger
on the lips and remember our blessings. While the heart is far from divine
Truth and Love, we cannot conceal the ingratitude of barren lives.
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.
Outward worship is not of itself sufficient to express loyal and heartfelt
gratitude, since he has said: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." The
habitual struggle to be always good is unceasing prayer. Its motives are made
manifest in the blessings they bring, blessings which, even if not acknowledged
in audible words, attest our worthiness to be partakers of Love.
Simply asking that we may love God will never make us
love Him; but the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily
watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will
mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness. We reach the Science
of Christianity through demonstration of the divine nature; but in this wicked
world goodness will "be evil spoken of," and patience must bring experience.
Audible prayer can never do the works of spiritual
understanding, which regenerates; but silent prayer, watchfulness, and devout
obedience enable us to follow Jesus' example. Long prayers, superstition, and
creeds clip the strong pinions of love, and clothe religion in human forms.
Whatever materializes worship hinders man's spiritual growth and keeps him from
demonstrating his power over error.
Sorrow and reformation
Sorrow for wrong-doing is but one step towards reform
and the very easiest step. The next and great step required by wisdom is the
test of our sincerity, namely, reformation. To this end we are placed under the
stress of circumstances. Temptation bids us repeat the offence, and woe comes
in return for what is done. So it will ever be, till we learn that there is no
discount in the law of justice and that we must pay "the uttermost farthing."
The measure ye mete "shall be measured to you again," and it will be full "and
running over." Saints and sinners get their full award, but not always in this
world. The followers of Christ drank his cup. Ingratitude and persecution
filled it to the brim; but God pours the riches of His love into the
understanding and affections, giving us strength according to our day. Sinners
flourish "like a green bay tree;" but, looking farther, the Psalmist could see
their end, the destruction of sin through suffering.
Cancellation of human
Prayer is not to be used as a confessional to cancel
sin. Such an error would impede true religion. Sin is forgiven only as it is
destroyed by Christ, Truth and Life. If prayer nourishes the belief that sin is
cancelled, and that man is made better merely by praying, prayer is an evil. He
grows worse who continues in sin because he fancies himself forgiven.
An apostle says that the Son of God [Christ] came to
"destroy the works of the devil." We should follow our divine Exemplar,
and seek the destruction of all evil works, error and disease included. We
cannot escape the penalty due for sin. The Scriptures say, that if we deny
Christ, " he also will deny us."
Pardon and amendment
Divine Love corrects and governs man. Men may pardon,
but this divine Principle alone reforms the sinner. God is not separate from
the wisdom He bestows. The talents He gives we must improve. Calling on Him to
forgive our work badly done or left undone, implies the vain supposition that
we have nothing to do but to ask pardon, and that afterwards we shall be free
to repeat the offence. To cause suffering as the result of sin, is the means of
destroying sin. Every supposed pleasure in sin will furnish more than its
equivalent of pain, until belief in material life and sin is destroyed. To
reach heaven, the harmony of being, we must understand the divine Principle of
Mercy without partiality
"God is Love." More than this we cannot ask, higher
we cannot look, farther we cannot go. To suppose that God forgives or punishes
sin according as His mercy is sought or unsought, is to misunderstand Love and
to make prayer the safety-valve for wrong-doing.
Jesus uncovered and rebuked sin before he cast it
out. Of a sick woman he said that Satan had bound her, and to Peter he said,
"Thou art an offence unto me." He came teaching and showing men how to destroy
sin, sickness, and death. He said of the fruitless tree, "[It] is hewn down."
It is believed by many that a certain magistrate, who lived in the time of
Jesus, left this record: "His rebuke is fearful." The strong language of our
Master confirms this description. The only civil sentence which he had for
error was, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Still stronger evidence that Jesus'
reproof was pointed and pungent is found in his own words, showing the
necessity for such forcible utterance, when he cast out devils and healed the
sick and sinning. The relinquishment of error de- prives material sense of its
Audible prayer is impressive; it gives momentary
solemnity and elevation to thought. But does it pro- duce any lasting benefit?
Looking deeply into these things, we find that "a zeal . . . not according to
knowledge" gives occasion for reaction unfavorable to spiritual growth, sober
resolve, and wholesome perception of God's requirements. The motives for verbal
prayer may embrace too much love of applause to induce or encourage Christian
Physical sensation, not Soul, produces material
ecstasy and emotion. If spiritual sense always guided men, there would grow out
of ecstatic moments a higher experience and a better life with more devout
self-abnegation and purity. A self-satisfied ventilation of fervent sentiments
never makes a Christian. God is not influenced by man. The "divine ear" is not
an auditory nerve. It is the all-hearing and all-knowing Mind, to whom each
need of man is always known and by whom it will be supplied.
Danger from audible prayer
The danger from prayer is that it may lead us into
temptation. By it we may become involuntary hypocrites, uttering desires which
are not real and consoling ourselves in the midst of sin with the recollection
that we have prayed over it or mean to ask forgiveness at some later day.
Hypocrisy is fatal to religion. A wordy prayer may afford a quiet sense of
self-justification, though it makes the sinner a hypocrite. We never need to
despair of an honest heart; but there is little hope for those who come only
spasmodically face to face with their wickedness and then seek to hide it.
Their prayers are indexes which do not correspond with their character. They
hold secret fellowship with sin, and such externals are spoken of by Jesus as
"like unto whited sepulchres . . . full . . . of all uncleanness."
Aspiration and love
If a man, though apparently fervent and prayerful, is
impure and therefore insincere, what must be the comment upon him? If he
reached the loftiness of his prayer, there would be no occasion for comment. If
we feel the aspiration, humility, gratitude, and love which our words express,
this God accepts; and it is wise not to try to deceive ourselves or others, for
"there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed." Professions and audible
prayers are like charity in one respect, they "cover the multitude of sins."
Praying for humility with whatever fervency of expression does not always mean
a desire for it. If we turn away from the poor, we are not ready to receive the
reward of Him who blesses the poor. We confess to having a very wicked heart
and ask that it may be laid bare before us, but do we not already know more of
this heart than we are willing to have our neighbor see?
Searching the heart
We should examine ourselves and learn what is the
affection and purpose of the heart, for in this way only can we learn what we
honestly are. If a friend informs us of a fault, do we listen pa- tiently to
the rebuke and credit what is said? Do we not rather give thanks that we are
"not as other men"? During many years the author has been most grateful for
merited rebuke. The wrong lies in unmerited censure, in the falsehood which
does no one any good.
Summit of aspiration
The test of all prayer lies in the answer to these
questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of this asking? Do we pursue
the old selfish- ness, satisfied with having prayed for something better,
though we give no evidence of the sin- cerity of our requests by living
consistently with our prayer? If selfishness has given place to kindness, we
shall regard our neighbor unselfishly, and bless them that curse us; but we
shall never meet this great duty simply by asking that it may be done. There is
a cross to be taken up before we can enjoy the fruition of our hope and faith.
Dost thou "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind"? This command includes much, even
the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship. This is
the El Dorado of Christianity. It involves the Science of Life, and recognizes
only the divine control of Spirit, in which Soul is our master, and material
sense and human will have no place.
The chalice sacrificial
Are you willing to leave all for Christ, for Truth,
and so be counted among sinners? No! Do you really desire to attain this point?
No! Then why make long prayers about it and ask to be Christians, since you do
not care to tread in the footsteps of our dear Master? If unwilling to follow
his example, why pray with the lips that you may be partakers of his nature?
Consistent prayer is the desire to do right. Prayer means that we desire to
walk and will walk in the light so far as we receive it, even though with
bleeding footsteps, and that waiting patiently on the Lord, we will leave our
real desires to be rewarded by Him. The world must grow to the spiritual
understanding of prayer. If good enough to profit by Jesus' cup of earthly
sorrows, God will sustain us under these sor- rows. Until we are thus divinely
qualified and are willing to drink his cup, millions of vain repetitions will
never pour into prayer the unction of Spirit in demonstration of power and
"with signs following." Christian Science reveals a necessity for overcoming
the world, the flesh, and evil, and thus destroying all error. Seeking is not
sufficient. It is striving that enables us to enter. Spiritual attainments open
the door to a higher understanding of the divine Life.
One of the forms of worship in Thibet is to carry a
praying-machine through the streets, and stop at the doors to earn a penny by
grinding out a prayer. But the advance guard of progress has paid for the
privilege of prayer the price of persecution.
Experience teaches us that we do not always receive
the blessings we ask for in prayer. There is some misapprehension of the source
and means of all goodness and blessedness, or we should certainly receive that
for which we ask. The Scriptures say: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask
amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." That which we desire and for
which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive. In this case infinite
Love will not grant the request. Do you ask wisdom to be mer- ciful and not to
punish sin? Then "ye ask amiss." Without punishment, sin would multiply. Jesus'
prayer, "Forgive us our debts," specified also the terms of forgiveness. When
forgiving the adulterous woman he said, "Go, and sin no more."
Remission of penalty
A magistrate sometimes remits the penalty, but this
may be no moral benefit to the criminal, and at best, it only saves the
criminal from one form of punishment. The moral law, which has the right to
acquit or condemn, always demands restitution before mortals can "go up
higher." Broken law brings penalty in order to compel this progress.
Truth annihilates error
Mere legal pardon (and there is no other, for divine
Principle never pardons our sins or mistakes till they are corrected) leaves
the offender free to repeat the offence, if indeed, he has not already suffered
sufficiently from vice to make him turn from it with loathing. Truth bestows no
pardon upon error, but wipes it out in the most effectual manner. Jesus
suffered for our sins, not to annul the divine sentence for an individual's
sin, but because sin brings inevitable suffering.
Desire for holiness
Petitions bring to mortals only the results of
mortals' own faith. We know that a desire for holiness is requisite in order to
gain holiness; but if we desire holiness above all else, we shall sacrifice
everything for it. We must be willing to do this, that we may walk securely in
the only practical road to holiness. Prayer cannot change the unalterable
Truth, nor can prayer alone give us an understanding of Truth; but prayer,
coupled with a fervent habitual desire to know and do the will of God, will
bring us into all Truth. Such a desire has little need of audible expression.
It is best expressed in thought and in life.
Prayer for the sick
"The prayer of faith shall save the sick," says the
Scripture. What is this healing prayer? A mere request that God will heal the
sick has no power to gain more of the divine presence than is always at hand.
The beneficial effect of such prayer for the sick is on the human mind, making
it act more powerfully on the body through a blind faith in God. This, however,
is one belief casting out another, a belief in the unknown casting out a belief
in sickness. It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief,
nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested
in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,
of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love. Prayer to a
corporeal God affects the sick like a drug, which has no efficacy of its own
but borrows its power from human faith and belief. The drug does nothing,
because it has no intelligence. It is a mortal belief, not divine Principle or
Love, which causes a drug to be apparently either poisonous or sanative. The
common custom of praying for the recovery of the sick finds help in blind
belief, whereas help should come from the enlightened understanding. Changes in
belief may go on indefinitely, but they are the merchandise of human thought
and not the outgrowth of divine Science.
Love impartial and universal
Does Deity interpose in behalf of one worshipper, and
not help another who offers the same measure of prayer? If the sick recover
because they pray or are prayed for audibly, only petitioners (per se or
by proxy) should get well. In divine Science, where prayers are mental,
all may avail themselves of God as "a very present help in trouble."
Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open
fount which cries, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."
In public prayer we often go beyond our convictions,
beyond the honest standpoint of fervent desire. If we are not secretly yearning
and openly striving for the accomplishment of all we ask, our prayers are "vain
repetitions," such as the heathen use. If our petitions are sincere, we labor
for what we ask; and our Father, who seeth in secret, will reward us openly.
Can the mere public expression of our desires increase them? Do we gain the
omni-potent ear sooner by words than by thoughts? Even if prayer is sincere,
God knows our need before we tell Him or our fellow-beings about it. If we
cherish the desire hon- estly and silently and humbly, God will bless it, and
we shall incur less risk of overwhelming our real wishes with a torrent of
If we pray to God as a corporeal person, this will
prevent us from relinquishing the human doubts and fears which attend such a
belief, and so we cannot grasp the wonders wrought by infinite, incorporeal
Love, to whom all things are possible. Because of human ignorance of the divine
Principle, Love, the Father of all is represented as a corporeal creator; hence
men recognize themselves as merely physical, and are ignorant of man as God's
image or reflection and of man's eternal incorporeal existence. The world of
error is ignorant of the world of Truth, blind to the reality of man's
existence, for the world of sensation is not cognizant of life in Soul, not in
If we are sensibly with the body and regard
omni-potence as a corporeal, material person, whose ear we would gain, we are
not "absent from the body" and "present with the Lord" in the demonstration of
Spirit. We cannot "serve two masters." To be "present with the Lord" is to
have, not mere emotional ecstasy or faith, but the actual demon- stration and
understanding of Life as revealed in Christian Science. To be "with the Lord"
is to be in obedience to the law of God, to be absolutely governed by divine
Love,- by Spirit, not by matter.
Become conscious for a single moment that Life and
intelligence are purely spiritual, neither in nor of matter, and the body will
then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find
yourself suddenly well. Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled
by spiritual Life, Truth, and Love. Hence the hope of the promise Jesus
bestows: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; . . .
because I go unto my Father," [because the Ego is absent from the body, and
present with Truth and Love.] The Lord's Prayer is the prayer of Soul, not of
material sense. Entirely separate from the belief and dream of mate- rial
living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the
consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth. This understanding casts
out error and heals the sick, and with it you can speak "as one having
authority." "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut
thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in
secret, shall reward thee openly."
So spake Jesus. The closet typifies the sanctuary of
Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and
Love. Closed to error, it is open to Truth, and vice versa. The Father
in secret is unseen to the physical senses, but He knows all things and rewards
according to motives, not according to speech. To enter into the heart of
prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and
materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine
Principle, Love, which destroys all error.
In order to pray aright, we must enter into the
closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material
senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead
God's allness. We must resolve to take up the cross, and go forth with honest
hearts to work and watch for wisdom, Truth, and Love. We must "pray without
ceasing." Such prayer is answered, in so far as we put our desires into
practice. The Master's injunction is, that we pray in secret and let our lives
attest our sincerity.
Christians rejoice in secret beauty and bounty,
hidden from the world, but known to God. Self-forgetfulness, purity, and
affection are constant prayers. Practice not profession, understanding not
belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence and they assuredly call down
infinite blessings. Trustworthi- ness is the foundation of enlightened faith.
Without a fitness for holiness, we cannot receive holiness.
A great sacrifice of material things must precede this
advanced spiritual understanding. The highest prayer is not one of faith
merely; it is demonstration. Such prayer heals sickness, and must destroy sin
and death. It distinguishes between Truth that is sinless and the falsity of
The prayer of Jesus Christ
Our Master taught his disciples one brief prayer,
which we name after him the Lord's Prayer. Our Master said, "After this manner
therefore pray ye," and then he gave that prayer which covers all human needs.
There is indeed some doubt among Bible scholars, whether the last line is not
an addition to the prayer by a later copyist; but this does not affect the
meaning of the prayer itself. In the phrase, "Deliver us from evil," the
original properly reads, "Deliver us from the evil one." This reading
strengthens our scientific apprehension of the petition, for Christian Science
teaches us that "the evil one," or one evil, is but another name for the first
lie and all liars. Only as we rise above all material sensuousness and sin, can
we reach the heaven-born aspiration and spiritual consciousness, which is
indicated in the Lord's Prayer and which instantaneously heals the sick. Here
let me give what I understand to be the spiritual sense of the Lord's Prayer:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious;
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom is come;
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Enable us to
know,- as in heaven, so on earth, God is omnipotent, supreme.
Give us this
day our daily bread;
Give us grace for today;
feed the famished
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Love is reflected in love;
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from
sin, disease, and death.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the
For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over
all, and All.
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