You may recognize that phrase from the 91st Psalm.  It’s not just a nice saying – it’s a law of God.  And one that we must gain a deeper understanding of, in order to effectively stop, and even reverse, the Ebola outbreak in Africa.  A recent newspaper update addresses the rising concerns there, as well as the need for calm.

The promise of the 91st Psalm is that the recognition of and reliance on God – or “the Lord, which is my refuge” – will guarantee that “no evil shall befall thee.”  Guarantee is a strong word, but the author of that ancient poem was convinced that anyone who hid himself “under the shadow of the Almighty” would find comfort and safety there.

Although scholars are not sure who actually authored this historic verse – David, Moses, or some other early composer – the writer surely had a clear sense of the willingness and ability of God to actively care for his children.  And even though it’s in a book of Hebrew poetry, its lesson is available to all regardless of faith – or no faith.

As a model for healing and protecting prayer, the 91st Psalm directs us to start with the all-power of the divine, placing ourselves – and those we pray for – in the shelter of God’s mighty presence.  Then, defining Him as our protector and foundation, we can realize all the ways in which His care sustains and maintains us.  The promise is that “he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”  That watchfulness is so complete that we can’t even stub a toe, let alone catch a disease.

Applying the message of this powerful Psalm to the events in Africa is an effective means of confronting the argument that Ebola is out of the control of man and God.  Yet for centuries, people have turned to the promises in the Bible, including the omnipotence of God, to heal all kinds of disease, contagious or otherwise.  Jesus’ many healings are especially inspiring and particularly instructional in their correlation between turning to our heavenly Father and being well.

What can you do?  The first step, and one which the 91st Psalm strongly promotes, is to put down fear.  It says, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”  And 1 John concurs by stating that “perfect love casteth out fear.”  (4:18)  Turning to God who is perfect Love, restores a sense of peace and normalcy, enabling you to overcome any anxious sense for your own health, or that of others.

If you’re wondering whether your own small prayer wherever you are located, can be of benefit for those who are suffering someplace else, be assured that “to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.”  (Science and Health, p. 494)  It’s not your own power that heals, it’s God’s.  Prayer acknowledges the infinitude and ever presence of divinity, and humbly expects good results.

As a member of the community of earth, those in other parts of the world are your neighbors.  Your prayerful outreach on their behalf blesses all mankind.  And we surely need that blessing now.

Here’s a great podcast about healing contagion.  You might find some useful ideas to supplement your prayers.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

What’s trending…

July 26, 2014

You see that “announcement” frequently on news and social media sites.  It’s about the latest in gossip and current events. Although the intent is to track what’s happening in the world, it’s more about what’s happening in people’s conversations about what’s happening in the world.

This post isn’t really about that though, but about what’s trending in thought.   You see, whatever the trend is in one’s thinking, tends to be the experience of that thinker.  Have you noticed that?  Whatever occupies your thought, whether it’s  fear or joy, hatred or gratitude, illness or health, is what you see in yourself and others.  The author of Proverbs wrote centuries ago, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  (23:7)

It’s called preoccupation and comes from the Latin meaning “to take possession beforehand.”  It was originally what you might call a real-estate term from the middle ages literally meaning to occupy something before it belonged to you – and there’s still an element of that in its current usage, though of a mental nature. Now it is used to describe that quality of thought that is self-absorbed or obsessed with a particular viewpoint, accurate or not.

We don’t always notice it in ourselves, but we do notice it in others.  And in so doing, we recognize that it is neither useful nor productive.  At least when the conditions of our preoccupation are negative.

Because we also notice when someone is always joyful regardless of circumstances.  Or when someone is always healthy, even when those around him or her are struggling with contagion.  Or when someone always reaches out to help even when their own circumstances may be tenuous.

Mary Baker Eddy expected that kind of preoccupation when she wrote, “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”  (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 261)  She understood the nature of the human mind, especially its tendency to focus on what is frightening or missing.  This simple instruction helps to move the thinker to a higher, broader more spiritual position where solutions can be found and enacted.

Learning to shift thought this way simply comes from doing it.  From catching yourself feeling down or agitated and deliberately choosing a more positive outlook.  And if that outlook is based on a God-like view, it’s not just positive thinking, it’s prayer.  This is how Jesus thought, prayed, healed.  And the Apostle Paul told us to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 2:5)  We can do that!

What’s trending in your thought?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Leave your list outside

July 17, 2014

When asked to teach them how to pray, Jesus gave to his followers this first step: “enter into thy closet, and…shut thy door.”  He pointed out that there was no need for “much speaking…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Jesus seemed to indicate that an attitude of humble listening, communing with God one on one, was most useful.  For “thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matt 6:6-8)  Nowhere does the Master suggest that giving God a list of to-dos or complaints is prayer.

The Psalmist says, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving. ”  Ps 94:2  Gratitude is an especially wonderful prayer because it opens our hearts and minds to all the good that God is already pouring forth.  In fact, we often see that those things we thought were missing, are even now being provided.  In this case, a list of those things we’re grateful for is most appropriate!

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy there’s a whole chapter devoted to Prayer.  And the author mentions several kinds of useful communion.  She says, “consistent prayer is the desire to do right.”  (p. 9)  Or that “the habitual desire to be always good is unceasing prayer.”  (p. 4)  Or “self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers.”  (p. 15)  These qualities of good and right, of purity and affection are important when we’re in the holy space with our heavenly Father.  And they supersede any list we might take with us of things we feel we’re lacking.

Instead, live in sincerity with your prayer, live as if you mean what you said in the quietness of your closet.  Then, Jesus promises that “all these things shall be added unto you;” (Matt 6:33) everything you need will be made plain before you.

Leave your list outside the closet, take your meekness in.  Then, watch God work!

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

There’s a story in the 7th chapter of Luke in the Bible, in which Jesus is invited to dine at the house of Simon the Pharisee.  At the same time, an uninvited woman joins them, and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, and dry them with her long hair.  Simon the Pharisee is incensed and thinks to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”  (vs. 39)  Simon had identified the woman as a sinner, and assumed that, since Jesus was not responding the way he would have, that Jesus was no prophet.  Simon was right about the whole situation, and he knew it.  And he was troubled that Jesus didn’t know it too.

How often do we do that to ourselves and each other?  How often are we so convinced about what we know and why we know it, that we can’t believe that others don’t agree with us?  Judging from my own experience, a lot!  Simon saw the woman through his pharisaical viewpoint, one which had very clear cut legal and moral regulations.  Then he took what appeared to be the next obvious step to assume that because Jesus missed this egregious violation, he must not be nearly as smart as everyone said he was.

Jesus caused Simon to see his own self-righteousness, with a poignant parable about the power of love.  And then he rebuked him for neglecting the common courtesy of water to wash his feet, showing the difference between Simon’s actions which were nothing more than legal rightness, and the woman’s ministrations which came from a deep and sincere affection.

Instead of seeing only the human picture – the physical circumstances – Jesus saw both Simon and the woman from a spiritual perspective.  And loving them both, he delivered very different cures which their respective situations required.  To Simon, he pointed out both his faulty reasoning and flawed conclusion.  But to the woman, Jesus simply told her that her sins were forgiven.  Undoubtedly, both of them learned something from the encounter: the woman left in peace, perhaps ready for a fresh start.  We hope that Simon also gained a more generous outlook.

Of course there are things that we really want to be right about, but our opinions should not fall into that category.  Like our dear Master, we should view ourselves and others through the eyes of love, not law.  In fact, as much love as possible, since none of us can expect to be mistake-free.  A gracious and affectionate nature will bring about a more ready and willing forgiveness, should there ever be a need.  And it will enable us to extend that same level of compassion to others whose trespasses may confront us.

If we’re going to be right about our views of others, then let’s be sure those views are shaped by God who sees only His own dear image and likeness.  That’s the model Jesus accepted, and the example he set for us.

And isn’t that as right as it gets?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

What is it that is holding you captive?  Fear?  Ill health?  Bad habits?  Lack?

In the book of Acts is the story of the Apostle Peter held in jail with two chains, between two soldiers, with additional soldiers guarding the door to his cell.  (Acts 12:5-11)  Seems pretty hopeless, doesn’t it?  But, we are told, that many people were praying for Peter.  In this most desperate situation, an angel comes to him –  smites him to get his attention – removes his chains, and leads him out of the prison to safety.  Peter is not quite clear this isn’t a dream until he reaches the house of his cohorts.  He then exclaims, “Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me…”

People are praying for you too, and God is constantly sending His angels to deliver you from whatever seems to have bound you.  Do you believe this?

Right now, declare your independence from doubt and fear.  Declare that you are not outside of God’s care, but actually being cared for even now.  Declare that your health, and safety, and happiness, and progress are all in the hands of His angelic deliverers, now.

And know that those mighty angels are willing to smite you too (gently, of course!) to remind you of your blessings and harmony.  Their touch is just to wake you up to the fact that you are already in the presence and under the power of God.

Let God and His angels show you the way of salvation.  People are praying and you’re included!

Declare your independence!

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.