I am a regular contributor to the Danbury News Times Forum on Faith column, which is also picked up by the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. Here is today’s article:
Some People Turn to God in Prayer as First Resort
Often people think of Christian Scientists as “those people who don’t go to doctors.” While this is frequently the case, there is no church mandate to that effect, and there is no censure toward anyone using medical means.
I usually explain the difference between our approach and the more conventional one this way: we turn to God in prayer as our first resort, instead of using prayer as a last resort, like it is for so many people. When this prayerful treatment of a problem is handled in the effective manner taught in Christian Science, very often there is an immediate remedy, and the seeking of medical help becomes unnecessary.
Christian Scientists have great respect for the motives of doctors. My own dad was a doctor, and I honor his life’s work as a healer so much that I also pursued a career in healing, as a Christian Science Practitioner. Occasionally, I am asked how this came about and what his reaction to this was.
In college, where I met my first Christian Scientist, I was an atheist until I was surprised by having my first major physical healing, merely by her facilitating me to consider the possibility of God’s reality in a way I hadn’t thought about before. That result got my attention!
I then visited a group of Christian Scientists on campus, and found among those attending, people I was already friends with. They were planning to host a Christian Science lecture on campus, which sounded interesting, and I wanted to attend, but I had a conflict with the date of the lecture, having already made arrangements to celebrate my dad’s birthday that evening.
I asked God what I should do, never having prayed before, and was dumbfounded when I got an answer. I really hadn’t expected that; I knew it wasn’t my idea, and I didn’t like the idea at all. The answer had come to go out to dinner with my parents as planned, and then bring them to the lecture. Very much a novice at this prayer stuff, I felt like if I wasn’t obedient to this clear leading, I might never get another answer again, so I invited my parents, and they were gracious about attending.
At the lecture, I had reason to be uncomfortable again. My dad was an esteemed authority on arthritis and my mother had issues with her hearing. This lecturer shared three Christian Science healings during her talk: two were about overcoming arthritis and one was about regaining hearing loss. I was sweating bullets! What could my parents be thinking?
I was stunned by my dad’s first comment after the lecture was over. He said, “Well, I have to hand it to you Polly, your attitude toward healing is 80 or 90 percent of the healing process.”
To this amazing statement I promptly quipped, “Then why are you spending your life on the ten percent?” And as I left the room, I got my first copy of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, which explains this radically new way of thinking, as well as it’s practical outcome.
In the now intervening decades, my dad has witnessed many Christian Science healings in our family. Once he even asked for my “good thoughts” and saw an immediate medically authenticated permanent remission – we’d call it a healing – that he couldn’t explain. And all these years I have continued to be supportive of his (or anyone’s) medical choices.
These two approaches, the spiritual and the medical, are radically different, since based on completely different premises. As opposites, they are both most powerful unmixed. At any given time, we always have a choice as to what will be our first or our last resort when facing any challenge. What we believe will be the most effective for us, will be, and that is what we should do.
By Polly Castor, a Christian Science Practitioner, and member of First Church of Christ Scientist, Ridgefield. She can be reached at PollyCastor@gmail.com