Q: Why does Mary Baker Eddy say, “To heal by argument, ﬁnd the type of the ailment, get its name, and array your mental plea against the physical” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 412). Why would it help someone while praying to know what disease they’re up against? Wouldn’t that make it seem more real?
A: Mary Baker Eddy writes with care on this issue in Science and Health. The fact that she begins the statement you cite with “To heal by argument …” might provide a clue as to the answer. Because if I am absolutely certain of my patient’s unblemished perfection as a reflection of the one perfect God, the healing is instantaneous. I don’t need to argue the case and get the name of the ailment. But if I am developing a metaphysical argument in order to gain that certainty, more detail and speciﬁcity about what is claiming to cause the patient’s suffering might be helpful.
A couple of months ago I was asked to pray for an infant. The child was covered in a rash and couldn’t get comfortable. She hadn’t slept the previous night. She and her parents were away from home at a large family reunion, and some had expressed concern about the little girl’s discomfort. I made a list of the issues that had been shared with me regarding the case, including the physical signs and symptoms, as well as the atmosphere of thought regarding the child’s welfare. I listed every issue I could think of that needed specific prayer. And then I arrayed my mental plea against the physical evidence of disease, addressing the issues silently one at a time. This mental argument helped to focus my prayer and was in line with Eddy’s statement that the healer can name the disease when mentally denying it, but naming it audibly may “impress it upon the thought,” and work against healing (Science and Health, p. 412).
The healing came quickly. Both baby and mom slept for a few hours that afternoon, and by the next day everything was normal. The rash was gone and the baby was smiling again.
Chicago, Illinois, US
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Journal, January 2013.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.