photo: C. Jill Reed/Flickr, cc by-sa 2.0
In honor of the 60th National Day of Prayer today, I thought it fitting to share a bit about what prayer means to me.
Most recently I’ve been thinking of prayer as an unmistakable reminder from God that I’m not helpless and alone in this world. These reminders come not just during moments of peaceful reflection but during even the busiest of days as I find myself appreciating qualities of God I see expressed by others — qualities such as patience, compassion, grace, wisdom, order, intelligence, and joy.
I find these reminders are essential, especially when circumstances leave me feeling utterly helpless. Most challenging, perhaps, are those times when I’m not feeling up to snuff physically, whether it’s something minor or a more serious condition.
For instance, a few years back I found myself lying flat on my back in excruciating pain. I had trouble getting out of bed, standing, sitting, walking — even thinking clearly. Although I was never examined by a doctor, all indicators were that I was suffering from a bad case of sciatica.
I’m sure I could have availed myself of any number of remedies. However, based on previous experience, it seemed to me that prayer would likely be the quickest and most effective of them all.
For some, I suppose prayer is about going to God and pleading for a miracle to happen. For me, it’s a reminder of God’s care; in this case the specific reminder — inspired by my study of the Bible and the teachings of Christian Science — that health is not a physical condition but the natural and perpetual expression of wholly spiritual qualities like strength, stamina, and flexibility.
I’d like to say my recovery was immediate. It wasn’t; it took at least a couple of weeks. But it was steady. And complete. And permanent. The really good news is that this healing left me feeling better physically and spiritually; that is, not only did my body feel more flexible but my thinking about others and myself did, too.
Regardless of one’s faith tradition, being reminded that you’re neither helpless nor alone can go a long way towards healing the ills of this world, both individually and collectively, mentally and physically. This, in and of itself, is a rather nice reminder as well.
Eric Nelson lives in Hayward, California and serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. He also works as a Christian Science practitioner, helping those interested in relying solely on the power of prayer for healing.
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