Circle of Faith has emphasized that in ecumenical and interfaith work we should first get acquainted with those of other faiths to develop respect and love. As a Christian Scientist I certainly am interested in talking about healing as practiced in Christian Science, but I’ve learned to defer the discussion until others express an interest. Eventually the topic comes up and it’s useful to be prepared to discuss healing in ways that are helpful. Most people are interested in healing.
There are too many aspects to cover in a short blog post, but I’ll share a few observations and invite your comments and questions. This may serve to stimulate a discussion.
First, we need to be aware that most faith groups believe that healing can result from prayer. Many in other faiths may focus more on healing community and social issues, but over 40% of the population in the US reports being healed of a mental or physical problem through prayer.
Second, many Christian communities believe that only their approach to prayer is “authentic” and can be effective. They may disparage the healings of others, categorizing them as coincidences, faith healings, or mistaken interpretations of what really happened. So this is a delicate area that demands humility and the willingness to listen, suspending judgment for a time. To think that my kind of prayer is the only effective prayer, ignores the abundance of healing going on around the globe and coveys an arrogance that tends to cut off dialogue about the subject.
Among Christians the common ground for a dialogue begins with Jesus’ healing work and what he taught about it. The Scriptures are common inspiration. Listening to one another’s experiences of healing through prayer provides opportunities to explore together the power of God.
Third, explaining how we prayed, or how the healing happened, can be a rich but delicate dialogue as well. We may feel inadequate in our ability to articulate either of those. For example, if I am asked, “What would you do if you were in an accident?” I may want to share a deep metaphysical truth I would be pondering—which might confuse and dismay the questioner. But if I say “I would wholeheartedly turn to God in prayer,” and also share a Bible passage that inspires me, then we connect and the interest grows.
Recognizing that most people believe in the power of prayer to heal, opens the door to a discussion of the meaning of healing in our lives. We have lots to share and we can learn so much from others.