Science and Health1
1:1The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are 3possible 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. 6Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-im‐molation, are God’s gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christian‐9ization and health of mankind.
Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from 12trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.2
2:1 What are the motives for prayer? Do we pray to make ourselves better or to benefit those who hear us, 3Right motivesto enlighten the infinite or to be heard of men? Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes forth hungering after righteous‐6ness 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 9than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less Deity unchangeablethan bestow all good, since He is unchang‐ing wisdom and Love. We can do more for 12ourselves by humble fervent petitions, but the All-lov‐ing does not grant them simply on the ground of lip-service, for He already knows all.
15 Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it. Goodness at‐tains the demonstration of Truth. A request that 18God 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 21humanly circumscribed, — an error which impedes spirit‐ual growth.
God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is 24intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of any‐God’s standardthing He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall 27we plead for more at the open fount, which is pour‐ing forth more than we accept? The unspoken desire does bring us nearer the source of all existence and 30blessedness.
Asking God to be God is a vain repetition. God is “the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;” and 3 3:1He who is immutably right will do right without being reminded of His province. The wisdom of man is not 3sufficient to warrant him in advising God.
Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The 6The spiritual mathematicsrule 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 9work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule in order to receive His bless‐ing, which enables us to work out our own salvation.
12 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 15understand God is the work of eternity, and demands absolute consecration of thought, energy, and desire.
How empty are our conceptions of Deity! We admit 18theoretically that God is good, omnipotent, omni‐Prayerful ingratitudepresent, infinite, and then we try to give information to this infinite Mind. We plead 21for 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 24blessings 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.
27 If we are ungrateful for Life, Truth, and Love, and yet return thanks to God for all blessings, we are in‐sincere and incur the sharp censure our Master pro‐30nounces 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 4 4:1divine Truth and Love, we cannot conceal the ingrati‐tude of barren lives.
3 What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, Efficacious petitionslove, and good deeds. To keep the com‐6mandments 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 9done. Outward worship is not of itself sufficient to express loyal and heartfelt gratitude, since he has said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
12 The habitual struggle to be always good is unceas‐ing prayer. Its motives are made manifest in the blessings they bring, — blessings which, even if not 15acknowledged in audible words, attest our worthiness to be partakers of Love.
Simply asking that we may love God will never 18make us love Him; but the longing to be better Watchfulness requisiteand holier, expressed in daily watchful‐ness and in striving to assimilate more of 21the divine character, will mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness. We reach the Science of Christianity through demonstration of the 24divine nature; but in this wicked world goodness will “be evil spoken of,” and patience must bring experience.
27 Audible prayer can never do the works of spiritual understanding, which regenerates; but silent prayer, Veritable devotionwatchfulness, and devout obedience enable 30us to follow Jesus’ example. Long prayers, superstition, and creeds clip the strong pinions of love, and clothe religion in human forms. Whatever mate‐55:1rializes worship hinders man’s spiritual growth and keeps him from demonstrating his power over error.
3 Sorrow for wrong-doing is but one step towards reform and the very easiest step. The next and great step re‐Sorrow and reformationquired by wisdom is the test of our sincerity, 6— 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 9what 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 12be measured to you again,” and it will be full “and run‐ning over.”
Saints and sinners get their full award, but not always 15in 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 18affections, giving us strength according to our day. Sin‐ners flourish “like a green bay tree;” but, looking farther, the Psalmist could see their end, — the destruction of sin 21through suffering.
Prayer is not to be used as a confessional to cancel sin. Such an error would impede true religion. Sin is forgiven 24Cancellation of human sinonly 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, 27prayer 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 30Diabolism destroyed“destroy the works of the devil.” We should follow our divine Exemplar, and seek the de‐struction of all evil works, error and disease included. 6 6:1We cannot escape the penalty due for sin. The Scrip‐tures say, that if we deny Christ, “he also will deny us.”
3 Divine Love corrects and governs man. Men may pardon, but this divine Principle alone reforms the Pardon and amendmentsinner. God is not separate from the wis‐6dom 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 9that 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 12of destroying sin. Every supposed pleasure in sin will furnish more than its equivalent of pain, until be‐lief in material life and sin is destroyed. To reach 15heaven, the harmony of being, we must understand the divine Principle of being.
“God is Love.” More than this we cannot ask, 18higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go. To Mercy without partialitysuppose that God forgives or punishes sin according as His mercy is sought or un‐21sought, is to misunderstand Love and to make prayer the safety-valve for wrong-doing.
Jesus uncovered and rebuked sin before he cast it 24out. Of a sick woman he said that Satan had bound Divine severityher, and to Peter he said, “Thou art an of‐fence unto me.” He came teaching and 27showing men how to destroy sin, sickness, and death. He said of the fruitless tree, “[It] is hewn down.”7
7:1 The only civil sentence which he had for error was, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Still stronger evidence 3that 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 6the sick and sinning. The relinquishment of error de‐prives material sense of its false claims.
Audible prayer is impressive; it gives momentary 9solemnity and elevation to thought. But does it pro‐Audible prayingduce any lasting benefit? Looking deeply into these things, we find that “a zeal . . . 12not according to knowledge” gives occasion for reac‐tion unfavorable to spiritual growth, sober resolve, and wholesome perception of God’s requirements. The mo‐15tives for verbal prayer may embrace too much love of applause to induce or encourage Christian sentiment.
Physical sensation, not Soul, produces material ec‐18stasy and emotion. If spiritual sense always guided Emotional utterancesmen, there would grow out of ecstatic mo‐ments a higher experience and a better life 21with more devout self-abnegation and purity. A self-satisfied ventilation of fervent sentiments never makes a Christian. God is not influenced by man. The “di‐24vine 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.
27 The danger from prayer is that it may lead us into temp‐tation. By it we may become involuntary hypocrites, ut‐Danger from audible prayertering desires which are not real and consoling 30ourselves in the midst of sin with the recollection that we have prayed over it or mean to ask for‐giveness at some later day. Hypocrisy is fatal to religion.8
8:1 A wordy prayer may afford a quiet sense of self-justification, though it makes the sinner a hypocrite. 3We never need to despair of an honest heart; but there is little hope for those who come only spasmodi‐cally face to face with their wickedness and then seek to 6hide 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 9unto whited sepulchres . . . full . . . of all uncleanness.”
If a man, though apparently fervent and prayerful, is impure and therefore insincere, what must be the 12Aspiration and lovecomment upon him? If he reached the loftiness of his prayer, there would be no occasion for comment. If we feel the aspiration, hu‐15mility, 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 18shall not be revealed.” Professions and audible pray‐ers are like charity in one respect, — they “cover the multitude of sins.” Praying for humility with what‐21ever 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 24the 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 27willing to have our neighbor see?
We should examine ourselves and learn what is the affection and purpose of the heart, for in this way 30Searching the heartonly 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 9 9:1rather give thanks that we are “not as other men”? During many years the author has been most grateful 3for merited rebuke. The wrong lies in unmerited cen‐sure, — in the falsehood which does no one any good.
The test of all prayer lies in the answer to these 6questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of Summit of aspirationthis asking? Do we pursue the old selfish‐ness, satisfied with having prayed for some‐9thing 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, 12we 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 15a 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 18heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”? Practical religionThis command includes much, even the sur‐render of all merely material sensation, affec‐21tion, 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, 24and material sense and human will have no place.
Are you willing to leave all for Christ, for Truth, and so be counted among sinners? No! Do you really desire 27The chalice sacrificialto 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 30dear 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. 10 10:1Prayer means that we desire to walk and will walk in the light so far as we receive it, even though with bleed‐3ing 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 6of 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 9willing 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.” 12Christian Science reveals a necessity for overcoming the world, the flesh, and evil, and thus destroying all error.
One of the forms of worship in Thibet is to carry a 18praying-machine through the streets, and stop at the Perfunctory prayersdoors to earn a penny by grinding out a prayer. But the advance guard of progress has 21paid 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 mis‐24Asking amissapprehension of the source and means of all goodness and blessedness, or we should certainly receive that for which we ask. The Scrip‐27tures 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 30best 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.” 11 11:1Without punishment, sin would multiply. Jesus’ prayer, “Forgive us our debts,” specified also the terms of 3forgiveness. When forgiving the adulterous woman he said, “Go, and sin no more.”
A magistrate sometimes remits the penalty, but this 6may be no moral benefit to the criminal, and at best, it Remission of penaltyonly saves the criminal from one form of punishment. The moral law, which has the 9right to acquit or condemn, always demands restitu‐tion before mortals can “go up higher.” Broken law brings penalty in order to compel this progress.
12 Mere legal pardon (and there is no other, for divine Principle never pardons our sins or mistakes till they Truth annihilates errorare corrected) leaves the offender free to re‐15peat 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 18wipes it out in the most effectual manner. Jesus suffered for our sins, not to annul the divine sentence for an in‐dividual’s sin, but because sin brings inevitable suffering.
21 Petitions bring to mortals only the results of mor‐tals’ own faith. We know that a desire for holiness is Desire for holinessrequisite in order to gain holiness; but if we 24desire holiness above all else, we shall sac‐rifice everything for it. We must be willing to do this, that we may walk securely in the only practical road 27to holiness. Prayer cannot change the unalterable Truth, nor can prayer alone give us an understanding of Truth; but prayer, coupled with a fervent habitual 30desire 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.12
12:1 “The prayer of faith shall save the sick,” says the Scripture. What is this healing prayer? A mere re‐3Prayer for the sickquest 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 6such prayer for the sick is on the human mind, mak‐ing it act more powerfully on the body through a blind faith in God. This, however, is one belief casting out 9another, — 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 under‐12standing of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and con‐scientious protests of Truth, — of man’s likeness to 15God 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 18power 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 21drug 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 24from 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.
27 Does Deity interpose in behalf of one worshipper, and not help another who offers the same measure of Love impartial and universalprayer? If the sick recover because they 30pray or are prayed for audibly, only peti‐tioners (per se or by proxy) should get well. In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail them‐1313:1selves of God as “a very present help in trouble.” Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and 3bestowals. 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, 6beyond the honest standpoint of fervent desire. If we Public exaggerationsare not secretly yearning and openly striv‐ing for the accomplishment of all we ask, 9our 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 12us openly. Can the mere public expression of our de‐sires increase them? Do we gain the omnipotent ear sooner by words than by thoughts? Even if prayer is 15sincere, 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 18we shall incur less risk of overwhelming our real wishes with a torrent of words.
If we pray to God as a corporeal person, this will 21prevent us from relinquishing the human doubts and Corporeal ignorancefears which attend such a belief, and so we cannot grasp the wonders wrought by infi‐24nite, 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 27creator; hence men recognize themselves as merely physical, and are ignorant of man as God’s image or re‐flection and of man’s eternal incorporeal existence. The 30world of error is ignorant of the world of Truth, — blind to the reality of man’s existence, — for the world of sen‐sation is not cognizant of life in Soul, not in body.14
14:1 If we are sensibly with the body and regard omnipo‐tence as a corporeal, material person, whose ear we 3Bodily presencewould gain, we are not “absent from the body” and “present with the Lord” in the demonstration of Spirit. We cannot “serve two mas‐6ters.” 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 9Christian 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.
12 Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of Spiritualized consciousnessmatter, — and the body will then utter no 15complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well. Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spir‐18itual 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 21 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 24sense.
Entirely separate from the belief and dream of mate‐rial living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual under‐27standing 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 30“as one having authority.”
3 So spake Jesus. The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but Spiritual sanctuarylets in Truth, Life, and Love. Closed to 6error, 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 9motives, 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, 12that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error.
In order to pray aright, we must enter into the 15closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and Effectual invocationsilence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must 18deny 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 21must “pray without ceasing.” Such prayer is an‐swered, in so far as we put our desires into practice. The Master’s injunction is, that we pray in secret and 24let our lives attest our sincerity.
Christians rejoice in secret beauty and bounty, hidden from the world, but known to God. Self-forgetfulness, 27Trustworthy beneficencepurity, and affection are constant prayers. Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence and 30they assuredly call down infinite blessings. Trustworthi‐ness is the foundation of enlightened faith. Without a fitness for holiness, we cannot receive holiness.16
16:1 A great sacrifice of material things must precede this advanced spiritual understanding. The highest prayer 3Loftiest adorationis not one of faith merely; it is demonstra‐tion. Such prayer heals sickness, and must destroy sin and death. It distinguishes between Truth 6 that is sinless and the falsity of sinful sense.
Our Master taught his disciples one brief prayer, which we name after him the Lord’s Prayer. Our Mas‐9The prayer of Jesus Christter said, “After this manner therefore pray ye,” and then he gave that prayer which covers all human needs. There is indeed some doubt 12among 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.
15 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 peti‐18tion, 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 21sin, can we reach the heaven-born aspiration and spir‐itual consciousness, which is indicated in the Lord’s Prayer and which instantaneously heals the sick.17