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'Prayer Is Our First Defense Against Illness'

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Do Christian Scientist moms take their kids to the doctor when they're sick? To find out, we went straight to the source.

christian scientist mom

Heidi Thompson: I was raised as a Christian Scientist. My grandparents were active in the religion, as were my parents -- so it's really a big part of who I am. I introduced my husband to Christian Science about 10 years ago, and it really resonated with him. Probably the biggest misconception about my religion is that we don't take our kids to the doctor when they're sick. We do use prayer as our first reaction to illness, but if we don't see improvement, we will seek medical attention.

Luckily, with my kids, we have rarely had to do that. Usually, prayer works the first time. But my kids do have a pediatrician and go for their well visits. It's not like they've never been to a doctor.

Prayer is our first defense. One night, I was nursing my son and he had a fever. I was concerned. I immediately started doing prayerful work on the issue. I reached for a periodical that features stories of people who've been healed by turning to prayer. I opened it to a story about a woman who had a fever. She was hot and bothered by the people she was traveling with, and was feeling a lot of anger inside. Once she worked through that anger and thought about each person one by one -- focusing on how God had created them -- her fever broke.

I was all angry and flustered earlier that evening. I knew that my thoughts and emotions could affect my infant. Not in a mystical way -- but as a parent, your attitudes, fears, and strengths can influence your children. This is especially true with babies, so it's important to keep your thoughts aligned.

This is the core of Christian Science. All of God's creation is made perfect. The onus is on us to realize that perfection. It's up to us to align our thoughts to what we know to be true about ourselves and others. We must tap into that truth.

That night, I worked through my hurt and angry feelings from earlier that evening one by one. By the time the baby woke up, the fever was gone.

We believe there is a law of harmony that governs us. It's up to you to get your thoughts in the right place, and remarkable things can happen.

Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866. She was quite a maverick. She founded the Christian Science Monitor. She did many things that were unheard of for a woman to do back then.

Christian Science gets lumped in with all kinds of things. It gets confused with Scientology a lot in the media. Or faith healing. Some people accuse us of being a cult -- but we don't worship Mary Baker Eddy. There's a lot of confusion out there when it comes to my religion. But faith is very hard to talk about. When people bring it up in cocktail conversation, it's hard to explain what your faith is about in a casual environment.

Mary Baker Eddy didn't even want Christian Science to be a religion. She saw it as a way of looking at Christianity and how Jesus was thinking. She thought her philosophy could just impact the Christian churches around her. But when people started tweaking it and taking her authenticity out of it, she decided to carve it out as something new. And that's how Christian Science was born.

Christian Science is a very positive religion, and it makes a big difference to our family. We are always supposed to be working toward a better and truer view of mankind. That helps enormously when raising children. When things are going wrong, we turn it back on them. If they're being bullied by a kid on the playground, for instance, we'll say: "You know what's true about that bully in school. It's up to you to assert that. Take some time to pray to get some sense of peace about knowing this."

It's beautiful to see kids understand and tell us later what they did to express love to a bully. I love the lesson that's teaching them. It's something that can work for them forever.

I really like the idea that there is this limitless potential -- it's up to us to tap into it. I am always constantly telling my kids that they have all the intelligence and strength they need. It is theirs if they just tap into it.

Like all parents, I get irritated or annoyed with my children sometimes. But at the end of the evening, when I have a minute to think back on something that happened in the day, I do a quiet meditation about it. What does God know about this child? Does God think this child is greedy or impolite, or does he just know him as pure and loving? What God knows about this child is all that's true about this child. I'll make a list of all of those wonderful qualities God knows my child possesses -- goodness, purity, truth, and love, for instance -- and then list things that he has done that are indicative of those qualities. It recalibrates my thinking. Then without fail, the next morning, they act accordingly. They can feel I changed my perspective. The power of gratitude ... taking that time to realign your thoughts ... can work miracles in your life, especially as a parent.

The focus of my religion is seeing things differently. It's almost not even religious in a way. The crux of Christian Science is love. Love one another, and tremendous things can happen by seeing things differently.

For more about Christian Science, visit spirituality.com.



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67 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jennifer November 11, 2009, 8:12 PM

And I think it’s worthwhile here to mention that prayer is for everyone, not just Christian Scientists. Everyone can experience healing in their own lives. God does not pick favorites. God loves us equally.

Louis Denes November 11, 2009, 8:59 PM

Dear Friends,

I would like to mention my experience to everybody, since i think it could give a neat perspective for all people.

I was not raised in Christian Science, but it came to me when i was in a great deal of need: when i was in my teens i was diagnosed with the final stages of kidney disease, Doctors said that dialysis would be imminent, and they were right; they (the good doctors and nurses) fought selflessly to keep me alive, involving countless surgeries that no one could ever imagine. Anyhow, I have been on the dialysis machine for more than 14 years, but the neat part is how Christian Science has helped me.

During the beginning of my treatments, I was on a number of medications for blood pressure, I think few people know what true heart disease is, until they feel the side effect of having a blood pressure
revolving above 220/170, needless to say, this was considered to be an incurable problem, since a specific by-product of the kidneys is to produce certain chemicals to help regulate the heart, well
so we tried using medicine, and it worked, it did not feel good, but hey you do what you got to do.
Well any way, when i left for University, this idea of came to me to try Christian science again, so well I prayed prayed a lot about this heart problem, and well some good things happened, I remember the exact moment, I was in the hospital (on dialysis), and I got this calm sense of love everywhere, the nurses were like pure love, angels: everything was love, well from that time on, actually a month later, my medication list was reduced from may be 7 pills to nothing, and it has stayed that way for more than 10 years. Most people are amazed when they hear I’m not on any medications.

Another time I had an aneurysm in my arm, it was fixed with surgery, but the arm became dysfunctioning, and actually blew up to 10 times it’s normal size, Dr’s thought i had a clot in my vain, which was not allowing the fluid to move. Well I contacted a Christian Science practitioner, who mentioned this quote from Science & health that God was the highest source for healing, but Christian Scientist should seek the medical community in certain cases, well this quote gave me the nicest sense of love, which was really comforting, since I always seem to be at old’s
with people, since choosing a
Christian Scientist/Medical path,
I’ve always felt the indifference on both sides, anyhow after that day the arm shrank. The Dr. and the Nurse Practitioner were so happy, they exclaimed it is a miracle! They rejoiced with me, you couldn’t imagine, the medical staff were at their wits end, and did not want to see me suffer anymore, or put me through another surgery, however; they were also relieved that prayer help me, since it worked out easier than expected. In fact, the nurse practitioner was willing to openly support my testimony in one of our Christian Science periodical.


“CS” has done many wonderful things for me on dialysis, including: enabling me to travel, teaching me how to needle myself, and even reducing my dialysis time from three times to once a week; my CS prayers have led me to go to the hospital at various time, which have saved my life.
My deepest gratitude goes out to God for all the good people in the Christian Science and the Medical Communities.

Kindest Regards, Louis Denes

p.s> in my experience parents have a great effect on a child’s health, and prayer really does help, my mom has this great story when I was in the ICU, but anyhow that’s another story…

Louis Denes November 11, 2009, 9:05 PM

well this quote gave me the nicest sense of love, which was really comforting, since I always seem to be at old’s with people, since choosing a Christian Scientist/Medical path, I’ve always felt the indifference on both sides, anyhow after that day the arm shrank. The Dr. and the Nurse Practitioner were so happy, they exclaimed it is a miracle! They rejoiced with me, you couldn’t imagine, the medical staff were at their wits end, and did not want to see me suffer anymore, or put me through another surgery, however; they were also relieved that prayer help me, since it worked out easier than expected. In fact, the nurse practitioner was willing to openly support my testimony in one of our Christian Science periodical. “CS” has done many wonderful things for me on dialysis, including: enabling me to travel, teaching me how to needle myself, and even reducing my dialysis time from three times to once a week; my CS prayers have led me to go to the hospital at various time, which have saved my life. My deepest gratitude goes out to God for all the good people in the Christian Science and the Medical Communities.

Kindest Regards, Louis Denes

p.s> in my experience parents have a great effect on a child’s health, and prayer really does help, my mom has this great story when I was in the ICU, but anyhow that’s another story…

Rachel November 11, 2009, 9:06 PM

I was raised in Christian Science and am so grateful because it makes life so fearless and harmonious.I have never had so much as an aspirin and I have been healed of back problems, flu and broken bones, to a form of cancer all through prayer. It is not blind faith or positive thinking. It is a recognition of the Allness and glory of God that is available to everyone. It brought such peace when raising my own children. Instead of fear of childhood diseases they were protected and healed. Fear was replaced with calm no matter what experience they seemed to be going through, or where they were, they were protected. Now my granddaughter is experiencing wonderful healings. Read Science and Health. This wonderful way of life is available to anyone who wants to know more about God and Her love for Her creation.

Fay November 11, 2009, 9:49 PM

As long as mankind depends on how the limited mortal mentality “interprets” being, man’s real spiritual identity will be an enigma. The Christianly Scientific understanding of Being, expressed by Christ Jesus [he was a very scientific thinker] makes obsolete the mortal perception of being. I’d far rather be free of the mortal sense of existence because it is slavery, than depend on it for a second. I need something a lot more reliable than that! I’m a second generation Christian Scientist who grew up in Africa and faced extremely dangerous situations, 6 years of war, epidemics, poverty, and many hardships, etc., and our family survived. Being a mother with 3 children in these situations, far from any utility services and at times cut off by floods and other challenges, I often had no other resources to call upon except God. All of mankind is free to experience life as God created it, without the interference of materiality - the education systems of the pharoahs - and joyfully live within our inherent and abundant freedom. Hatred has no mandate.

Kezia November 12, 2009, 12:56 AM

Christian Science is all about following the 10 commandments found in the Bible and “loving our neighbor as ourself.” There is nothing even remotely “cult-like” about it. We all must learn to truly love all of mankind and see everyone’s innate goodness even when the outward picture is telling you a different story. The world could use a lot more love right now and alot less hate. I grew up in Christian Science and have had too many healings to even count, from life threating situations such as heartattack and childbirth complications. All illnesses have been completely and permanently healed. The promise of healing is not just for Christian Scientists or a select few. Christ Jesus told the world when he healed that all mankind should go and do likewise. And his comment was not pointed at a certain religion or race. Christian Science is my family’s healthcare and I am so grateful!


Lisa November 12, 2009, 7:02 AM

Thank you for sharing your story of raising your kids in Christian Sciense. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up and say what you believe in a public forum. The founder of Christian Science said, “The time for thinkers has come.” So, it is very far from brainwashing. Christian Science is very logical, spiritually logical, not scary or blind faith oriented.

Adam November 12, 2009, 8:58 AM

Can prayer heal cancer? There are documented healings of cancer in Christian Science. The example given of the healing of fever was merely to show how effective prayer is..I’d personally rather help my child through prayer than drugs, but that’s an individual decision. I won’t impose prayer on you; don’t impose drugs on me, OK?? These people are simply following the teachings of Christ, Jesus, as I see it. I wouldn’t crucify them for it.

michelle November 12, 2009, 9:43 AM

Thanks to Joe for beating me to the Barbara Ehrenreich quote! She’s one of the few public intellectuals who has thought to challenge the “positive thinking” and “prayer” rackets (which otherwise go mostly unquestioned).

jo November 12, 2009, 10:18 AM

SHE IS THE GAWD DAMN DEVIL!

Anonymous November 12, 2009, 1:50 PM

Not a real religion

Michael November 12, 2009, 2:02 PM

I am sorry, but I do not understand why the medical world is not held up to such criticism when people die daily from relying on medical care. Just entering the hospital is taking a chance. People die of strange infections, misdiagnoses, mistakes, wrong prescriptions, etc. It looks like Christian Scientists are just trying to love others, care for their children through God’s love and make the world a better place. Why the anger?

Rob G November 12, 2009, 2:07 PM

I am not a Christian Scientist but I see great value in what you do. Please keep the faith.

As for “scientifically provable medicine,” consider this: It is not possible to prove scientifically that any of this world is anything but a figment of your own imagination. Yet we all believe that this is in fact all real. So how much validity does science really have? Personally I’d say prayer is just as likely as tylenol to cure a fever, and much cheaper.

Kathy November 12, 2009, 2:29 PM

Thank you for considering this topic. As with so many things relative to religions, there is too much misinformation and intolerance. My grandmother was cured of advanced tuberculosis through just reading Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. No cult following there, or brain washing, just a change of thought and than a medically documented healing.
My mother chose medical care for us and herself. She died tragically in an ER when misdiagnosed.
There are no easy answers or quick fixes, but Christian Science was just as effective in our lives as medicine has been.
I think until you’ve really known a Christian Scientist, you cannot understand what they represent, or what loving and capable parents they usually are.

boothV November 12, 2009, 2:39 PM

I’m sorry but, “Usually prayer works the first time?”

You have GOT to be kidding me.

Please put in an order to God for my Lotto win. He doesn’t seem to listen to me.

Kathy November 12, 2009, 2:39 PM

Thank you for taking on this controversial topic. As with all faiths, there is much confusion and misunderstanding, which hopefully forums like this will help to alleviate.
My grandmother was healed instantly of advanced tuberculosis, by just reading a copy of Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. She had no prior knowledge of CS before she picked up an old copy she found in a shed. It was a medically documented healing. She wasn’t in a cult. She just read a book and her thought changed, and then so did her body.
My mother chose medical care for herself and her children. When medical care did not work, she would often call on a practitioner of Christian Science for help. We experienced many healings.
Sadly, my mother died in a ER after being misdiagnosed and mistreated.
There are no easy answers or quick fixes, but I think until you know a Christian Scientist personally, you can never know how loving and normal they truly are.

Bob November 12, 2009, 3:05 PM

I was raised in another faith and given drugs & pills everytime I opened my mouth. I found Christian Science after college and it has brought me frankly, out of some deep darkness and given me such joy and strength and comfort. I have a sense of pity for those who blogged their misunderstanding of it in this give and take because they are so clueless as to what it really is and what they’re missing. I’ve never heard a Christian Scientist even suggest that their prayers alone are answered; it’s just that we believe prayer is not mere petition; it’s not begging God so much as listening to Him. It does take study as well. I suggest, as Heidi did, that you go to spirituality.com for more answers. I honestly think that you, like me, would see it’s life changing. You out there who are curious might like to stop at a Christian Science Reading Room and pick up a copy of Science and Health…

Janice November 12, 2009, 3:58 PM

Heidi, Thank you. I am a 4th generation Christian Scientist and mother to 2 young children. I cannot express my respect for and gratitude to you for sharing how your family is so harmoniously governed by God.

Concerned for Christian Science November 12, 2009, 5:46 PM

I’ve raised our children in Christian Science, as well. I find, however, that we don’t explain what we mean by prayer and then we’re upset when we get thrown in with all other faiths. Christian Science treatment is prayer, but it’s also much more. We should define this to the public so everyone can understand that we’re not just trying to “tap” into some higher being out there somewhere, but that there is a science to prayerful treatment which makes it effective. Comments like the above article simply add to the confusion and misunderstanding of what Christian Science truly is.

Sue November 12, 2009, 8:23 PM

Think of how much you love your own child… hard to even put an amount to that, isn’t it? Well, God loves each of His children (which means EVERYONE) even more! As Christian Scientists, we are learning how to love as Jesus loved. Love is what heals. If our thought is tainted with criticism, hate, fear… then we are not truly and completely loving as Jesus did, and so we may not be experiencing the healing power that he taught us. The important thing is that we are all striving to be like the Master and express God’s love fully as he did. I have grown up trusting God and experiencing healings all my life. Now my two children are also experiencing healings through the scientific practice of Christian Science. I love my children so much that I am leading them in a path that I find to be the best for them. I would never do anything that I thought would harm them in anyway. To me, Christian Science is the best way for our family to find health, peace and love. It’s not always an easy path to take, but it definitely is rewarding. Whenever I experience healing, it is not just a physical healing, but also a time of great spiritual growth where I learn more about God and my relationship to Him. I know that many people have a hard time accepting that God really does heal. But, if that’s the case, why does even the medical profession encourage patients to pray? To me that tells me that even the Doctors know there’s a higher power capable of much more than even they are capable of. The medical profession is doing all they can to help people, and so are Christian Scientists. Both groups just want their fellow man to be well. Both groups are loving their fellow man in the best way they know how. Christian Scientists are not trying to convince everyone to do as they do, but we should be granted the respect to follow what is best for us without having to defend ourselves. “The heart and soul of Christian Science is love.” (Science and Health) That’s all we’re trying to do… love.


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