Excerpts from the Abridged version of the chapter Prayer from the book, 21st Century Science and Health.
The gratifications of the tactile senses and the bombardment of information require us to hone our spiritual sense and knowledge. We must become skillful in divine Science. We must not be afraid to experiment and modify our approach as we go along. We may start out begging God for help, but we can expect this pleading to yield to an epiphany that reveals our spiritual identity safe with Truth, Life, and Love. We may bargain with God only eventually to discover the deal has already been made—God gave only good. We may get the frying-pan-on-the-head feeling and be quickened to clean up and start becoming responsible and respectful.
Truth bestows no excuses for backwardness, but wipes out all sin and sickness.
“The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” (James 5:15) How do we understand this healing prayer? It helps to first understand what a healing prayer is not. It is not a litany of petitions. It is not a series of affirmations as if the more you say it the more likely it will become true. It is not the human mind convincing itself of some grandiose idealism. It is not a communication with a humanlike God. It is not blind faith.
In divine Science, human understanding is put aside for spiritual understanding. Humble prayers, offered by a faith in truth, life, and love, are deep and conscientious acknowledgments of Truth and a knowing that we are the image of Spirit and in full unity with Life and Love. The healing prayer is unique to, and separate from, a faith in the human mind, in time, or in some guru or clergy who can spill out a prayer sweet as honey but is sure to get your money. We are reminded, “When you pray, don’t be like the play-actors.” (Matt 6:7, JB Phillips)
Although a meticulous procedure, it is scientific to divide the inactive prayer from the active prayer. It’s fairly easy to discard the repetitious prayers that basically fall on deaf ears and get us nowhere. But there are other ineffective prayers. Inert prayers can oftentimes appear dynamic because they have the wherewithal to change one belief into another belief. Similar to the belief that marriage will bring happiness and then changing to the belief that divorce will bring happiness. Inactive prayers also stem from the notion that we are saving someone else when actually we are doing their work for them, slighting both them and our self.
Whether we are praying for our self or for others, the radical foundation from which to proceed is spiritual understanding—an understanding of divine Spirit. It is most beneficial to enter into spiritual consciousness, not riveted on the human mind or body. From the Bible, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (II Cor. 5:8) Are we off on an adventure with the body or at home with divine Soul?
The belief and dream of temporal human living has nothing to do with Life divine— revealing spiritual understanding and consciousness. In Science, we’ve been given dominion to express all the excellent and beautiful and useful elements created by God and established in the world. You can become conscious right now of wellbeing and intelligence that is purely divine. You’ve been given authority—not to manage sin, sickness, or other people—but to experience the consciousness of intelligence, Truth and Love. Referring to Christ Jesus, we read in the Bible, “He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matt. 7:29)