Week 57:"How long should silent prayer be?"

Response 1: Annette Dutenhoffer

There is no guideline in the Manual for the length of silent prayer during our services, but certainly it shouldn’t be so brief that the congregation is surprised to hear the congregation saying, “Our Father,” before they’ve even bowed their heads. And, it shouldn’t be so long that they’re tempted to get out their smart phones and check their e-mail while waiting!

In First Church of Christ Scientist, and Miscellany, there is a brief description of the silent prayer at the end of a communion service held at The Mother Church: “When, after five minutes of silent communion at the end of the service, the congregation began to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, they began all together, and their voices rose as one in a heartfelt appeal to the creator” (p.32).

Five minutes of silent prayer during a church service seems extremely long, but I’m sure it felt right that day. Inspiration is never based on time. Just as the scriptural selection is shorter on some weeks than others, because of the inspiration that led the First Reader to select it, it seems natural that the silent prayer would also vary in length from week to week.

As attendees of the church services, we can acknowledge that every note of the hymns, every word that’s read, every second of silence—even if it’s only fifteen seconds—is governed by God and has a healing effect on that congregation. It’s not so much how many silent moments do we have, but what can we do with them? In Science and Health it says, “One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity” (p.598). If one moment could be a foretaste of eternity—just think of what fifteen moments could be!

All of the seconds of silent prayer combined in all of our branches and societies is an undeniable and transforming force in the world! When the members of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Atlanta, dedicated their church, Mrs. Eddy told them, “The silent prayers of our churches, resounding through the dim corridors of time, go forth in waves of sound, a diapason of heart-beats, vibrating from one pulpit to another and from one heart to another, till truth and love, commingling in one righteous prayer, shall encircle and cement the human race” (My., p.189).

Response 2: Curt Wahlberg

I couldn’t agree more with your idea of giving “the best we have to offer.” And certainly that means including in our services sufficient time for conscientious prayer.

When I was a reader, my fellow reader and I considered and discussed the issue quite a bit. The two of us also felt that we all maybe needed more time than what we’d typically had during services. With that in mind, I introduced our time for silent prayer by asking the congregation to take a “couple minutes” for it.

I don’t know exactly how long we prayed in the services during those three years, but I think there was some sense in the room that the silent prayer was important and powerful.

I’ve looked at it in terms of this citation from Miscellaneous Writings: “We, to-day, in this class-room, are enough to convert the world if we are of one Mind; for then the whole world will feel the influence of this Mind; as when the earth was without form, and Mind spake and form appeared” (p. 279). Indeed, I like to think that our prayer and worship service can profoundly help us to unite in one Mind and so help convert the world to a much diviner sense of things, a stronger sense of God’s presence and activity.

Perhaps this expectancy is the key for us to individually resolve your question. In the end, we need such expectancy in our prayer, more than we need additional time for it. Five seconds could prove to be sufficient, if there’s great expectation and clarity. To that end, I make a conscientious effort to clear my thought before the services and to then be ready minutes later, to immediately focus my prayer on the effort of feeling the presence of one Mind acting in the congregation.

I’ve gotten better at this, even when I only have those fifteen seconds you mention. I’ve better disciplined myself to focus on the job at hand and not think about the random things that come to me. This is something I can address.

I can’t directly do much about the group’s actions, but I can bring the best that I have to offer and thereby indirectly encourage collective progress. Recently after a service, someone asked why I seemed so intently focused. She apparently had picked up on something. I’m convinced that we can find ways to be a force in the congregation to support everyone in giving the activity the weight it deserves.

  1. I have to be honest. I must confess that I am somewhat underwhelmed by "This Week's Question". Since it appears that we are only having such questions every other week now, I can't imagine that this topic was of such "importance" that it rose to the top of the "pile". If such topics are to be debated or discussed, then it would seem to me that there must be more interesting subjects at hand.

    With the current state of the CS movement being what it is today, certainly there must be more pressing issues!

  2. Hi Brad,

    Thanks for your feedback. We always appreciate hearing from our community. "This Week's Question" is intended as a space for all of us to think more deeply about all aspects of church. We draw our questions from those sent in by our site visitors. Sometimes the questions are more sensitive, hot button issues. Other times they are like this one-- a simple question about conducting the church service, but worthy of thought and new inspiration nonetheless.

    Even if you don't find every question pressing, I hope we all can agree that bringing fresh inspiration and thought, rather than rote behavior, to every aspect of church is never insignificant.

    all the best,
    Inge
    Church Alive Team

  3. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for you very kind and thoughtful response. In fact, after I had written my post yesterday, I thought again about the question and realized that, while for me it might not be a "pressing" issue, for others there might be an importasnt point here.

    I especially liked your remark, "Even if you don’t find every question pressing, I hope we all can agree that bringing fresh inspiration and thought, rather than rote behavior, to every aspect of church is never insignificant." Perhaps there are those who have had some kind of "problem" with this issue in the past. And, if there are those people, I would very much like to hear what they have to say.

    For myself, I prefer a short period for silent prayer rather than a protracted period of silence. During a long period of silence my mind tends to wander. I was never much good at meditation anyway.

  4. Thank you for this question and the thoughtful responses. I have just begun a term as First Reader, and this is something my fellow reader and I have discussed. We are considering lengthening the silent prayer and I appreciate having these ideas to bring to the discussion.
    Thanks also to the Church Alive team for providing a forum for these discussions!

  5. I think the key here is to be guided by God how long the prayer should be. There is no formula. If the Second Reader just watches the clock to make sure it is short or long enough, he or she is not really praying, but measuring matter. I used to always make sure the silent prayer was exactly a minute. Having served as Second Reader several years ago and just recently starting a new term as SR, I am more and more inclined to pray until God tells me it's time to start the Lord's prayer. I think if you are going to take the 5 minute approach, as a courtesy, you should let the congregation know ahead of time of that possibility.

    Brad, I think this is a VERY important topic that we have largely undervalued and not used in the most effective way. Here's what Mrs. Eddy says in My 189:9, "The silent prayers of our churches, resounding through the dim corridors of time, go forth in waves of sound, a diapason of heart-beats, vibrating from one pulpit to another and from one heart to another, till truth and love, commingling in one righteous prayer, shall encircle and cement the human race."

  6. I think most attendees at Christian Sciences services and meetings would find between one and two minutes of silent prayer acceptable. For me, less than one minute feels too rushed and longer than two minutes too drawn out.
    "To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error" (Science & Health, p. 15).
    Allowing sufficient time to enter into that heart of prayer is a worthwhile discipline.

  7. Silent prayer is different for all. Getting out of our thoughts and "into our hearts" to listen and pray takes different times for each individual. Training yourself to block out sounds as in crinkling candy wrappers and other things, but when inspiration comes it comes to completion naturally when the Lord's prayer begins, and if distraction enters in before hand it simply means your inspiration is still speaking to you and asks you to refocus since we can only judge ourselves for what we open ourselves for during this time of silent prayer. On the other hand if our prayer is cut short we simply must know that nothing is lost to us for God already knows what we desire.

  8. Thanks for this question. I think all questions (small or large) about church are important beause they involve each of us. When I served at Second Reader I prayed my prayer and when I was done I started the Lord's Prayer. I don't think it was too short or too long. When substituting as First Reader I always ask the Second Reader just to pray and start when he/she is done with their prayer. That way the silent prayer is inspiring and supportive of the congregation. I believe that Mrs. Eddy said that silent prayer was exclusively for the congregation. With that in mind, whatever your church is dealing with should be included in your prayer for the congregation, knowing that each one will receive what they need from that service.

  9. While I whole-heartedly agree that the amount of time for silent prayer should be determined by praying for guidance, my experience has been that a very long period of silence often makes visitors uncomfortable. And, like Brad, some in the congregation find their thoughts wandering (or even wondering, what in the world is going on?). I like the idea that it may be longish one week and short another. I know that I pray silently throughout the service, so I don't feel that I'm missing an opportunity if the silent prayer period is only 1 minute long.

  10. I don't think the amount of time for prayer is as important as the time being consistent from week to week. As long as the congregation has an idea of how much time will be allotted, they can pray accordingly. When the time varies between 20 seconds and a couple of minutes, you can get caught right in the middle of prayer, barely getting started, or continuing on, even though you'd finished....each feeling a bit awkward. I find it a privilege and a joy to pray for the congregation, so don't find a few minutes to be excessive. In our church, we have found that one minute works best and is most acceptable by all.

  11. Thank you for raising this question which had actually been on my mind. I had begun noticing that the time for silent prayer was so short that I barely had time to think one quick thought when the recitation of the Lord's Prayer started. I think if the silent prayer in church is to be held in support of the congregation, that a minimum of one minute would be nice and five minutes might be truly inspiring! I realize time is not the issue here so much as the fact that silent prayer is mandated in our order of services in the Christian Science Manual so it has an important purpose and should not be hastily rushed through. Thanks to James Early for the wonderful quote shared above which so aptly describes the power of silent prayer as "waves of sound, a diapason of heart-beats, vibrating from one pulpit to another and from one heart to another, till truth and love, commingling in one righteous prayer, shall encircle and cement the human race." How tender AND powerful!

  12. I loved Curt's answer. He speaks of uniting in one Mind through our individual and collective prayers. And as our congregations are blessed and healed through our services, can't we expect to see that healing impetus going out into our communities, and on out into the world? The time alloted can come through inspiration and balance that fits with your congregation.

  13. About two years ago I was attending a branch church where silent prayer was cut off very quickly and I was barely into my own prayer before I had to switch to The Lord's Prayer. First time I had ever experienced "too short" in my many years as attendee and member of branch churches. All through the years the silent time--whatever it was--had felt right. When serving as Second Reader I have usually allowed between one and two minutes, but didn't always watch the clock. I agree that over two minutes might lead to various diversions or even concern. Glad to be thinking about this.

  14. I find this topic to be of great importance for our church and its mission. Our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote a whole chapter on prayer in Science and Health, and it is the very first chapter in the book, which to me says something about its importance - we pray first and then take up other topics and use our prayer to think about and solve them, if needed. She also states specifically in the Manual who is to be prayed for - churches "collectively and exclusively". This is the only church that I know of that states who is to be prayed for in a time of silent prayer. Could this not indicate that it is worth more than a few seconds?

    I have found also, that this "seconds" for Silent Prayer often carries over to church business meetings, committee meetings, and even Board meetings. Where the person in charge will say, "Let us have a few moments of silent prayer", and then after 15-20 seconds they begin whatever audible repetition was announced.
    Taking the time to offer our prayers to God for His goodness, mercy, love, and direction, can only help to strengthen the mission of our churches - to heal.

  15. Great concept from Curt... "To that end, I make a conscientious effort to clear my thought before the services and to then be ready minutes later, to immediately focus my prayer on the effort of feeling the presence of one Mind acting in the congregation." I would love to see our churches spend more time focusing on clearing thought (which is the essential nature of prayer in my view)... then we can all feel the right answers to our needs.

  16. As a First Reader, I asked my Second Reader to give me time to pray and this I found necessitated a few seconds for me to settle down and actually be praying. It is a time for thoughtful meditation and "offered for the congregations collectively and exclusively." Manual p42
    It is not rote, but heartfelt and caring. At least a couple of minutes (not watching the clock) was not too long. And what about having a longer announced silent prayer time once in a while? If someone needs to learn to pray, what could that do but bless them and the congregations? "Could ye not watch with me" a few minutes? In addition, the Second Reader starting the Lord's Prayer with a distinct "Our Father" slowly enough to allow all to join them is a gift I appreciate as a member of the congregation. What a joy it is to pray together and know that the prayer encompasses all mankind and in every hour.

  17. Once at a quarterly church business meeting I attended, the church member conducting the meeting felt led to ask the membership to join in 10 minutes of silent prayer as we began the meeting. Far from being awkward and overly drawn out, it was the most inspiring 10 minutes I think I've ever spent at a business meeting! And the business of that meeting (which was of great importance and about which there were differing opinions) was quickly and harmoniously taken care of, so that the spiritual uplift of the prayer was what we all took away from the meeting, not the conducting of the business.

    Now, it might not be necessary for silent prayer in the regular service to go on for 10 minutes as it may in a business meeting, but those 10 minutes taught me how deep and unified and effective silent prayer can be in church. Rather than a quick "Thanks God!", with a longer period of prayer in the service I can deliberately acknowledge the effective activity of the Word for each member of that congregation, see each one embraced in Divine Love, and listen deeply for the angels of the moment.

    When I am the Reader who begins the Lord's Prayer on a Wednesday or a Sunday after the period of silent prayer, like Pamela (#8) I just let the length of the prayer that comes to me determine when to begin.

    For those who feel uncomfortable with long periods of silent prayer, perhaps you could take your discomfort as a challenge to "practice" at home praying silently for longer and longer periods. The thoughts that come to you in your silent prayer at church may be the very ones that will heal the individual sitting next to you or across the aisle!

  18. As I start my first year as Second Reader I find the question and all comments interesting and helpful. I never thought of "time" in years past when I was SR, but time was requested when I substituted. Now I am back to praying before the Lord's Prayer, and when I look up, I think that I can go on or maybe give a little more time. I so agree with the comment that "inspiration and balance" should fit the congregation where you are Reader.

  19. For a few months, I worshipped at an unprogrammed Quaker meeting (Society of Friends.) Unless someone spoke, the entire hour was silent prayer. There was no prelude or formal greeting to start the service. A simple sign on the door said, "The meeting begins when the first person enters and turns his thought to God." They believe God is present,and if we'll just be quiet and listen, we'll hear His message in our hearts. Where silent prayer is concerned, Quakers feel "the longer the better."

  20. It is the quality of the prayer and not the length that is of import. Does it not say in the Bible "Pray without ceasing"?

  21. 90 seconds seems to have worked when I've been both a first or second reader. Congregation doesn't get antsy, but it allows for meditation.

  22. As Marjorie pointed out in her message, Article Viii, section 5, Prayer in Church, page 42, states "The prayers in Christian Science churches shall be offered for the congregation collectively and exclusively." I am serving as First Reader and invite the congregation to unite in silent prayer for the congregation.

  23. I've been the first reader at my church for almost a year, and from the beginning I have felt that the silent prayer was my time to pray for the congregation, those present, and those elsewhere. I pray until I feel a really strong sense of God's presence. Sometimes that's 30 seconds, sometimes it's probably over 2 minutes (not that I'm counting!) but i'm not aware of anything (including time) but communicating with God to bless those who my thought lies upon. I love that so much in the manual if left up to the church to decide prayerfully how to do it!

  24. What could be MORE important than the topic of prayer? Prayer is the essence of Christianity. ANY insights I can get (and believe me, I've gotten plenty from this discussion!) are very helpful. I think this question was insightful. By the way, I think the Christian Science movement is alive and well, thank you.

  25. Having served as First and Second Reader, I have found longer prayers to be incredibly inspirational, deeply beautiful, and a wonderful preparation for the Lesson Sermon to come. As a current SR, I feel the power in the quiet and have felt the congregation unify during the silence. In discussion with my current First Reader, we decided that it might be the only quiet time for prayer that some of the congregants have during the week! What a gift!

    It is not unusual for all of us to be challenged by the drifting of thinking, so what a privilege to overcome that with joyous focus. I feel our Leader, Mrs. Eddy felt we ought to be praying more, not less, so I will probably err on the side of longer, rather than shorter silent prayers, for our services. And over the last decade of serving in these capacities, I have been thanked on numerous occasions for having longer prayer times.

    P.S. I have carried this practice over into committee work, too. It DOES make a difference.

  26. Just a reminder- it is plural. "for the congregations
    collectively and exclusively."

    I have pondered this and believe it on purpose that the word is plural. Could someone give more insight into this?
    Mrs. Eddy was very careful with words, to my knowledge.

    But then, the topic is 'length of silent prayer'. Could it be that by including a broader scope that it is entirely possible that more than less time is in order?

  27. I just reread some posts and believe that #5 James Early in the quote from My 189:9 gives insight into why Mrs. Eddy used the plural "congregations".

    And in rereading others comments, I also see the importance of this question and I am grateful it is being addressed in a sharing attitude to help everyone give thought to it.

  28. Thank you James,(no 5) for quoting My. 189:9! It is such a beautiful image!
    I am Second Reader and must admit that once lost in prayer "time" tends to be forgotten! However, it is generally appr. 1.15 to 1.1/2 minutes when I announce in a quiet voice: "The Lords Prayer" and then one or two seconds later start the first line: "Our Father,,,", thus giving the congregation time to re=adjust, so to speak. The waves still roll on followed by more and thus..."encrcle and cement the human race" continuously irregardless of "time".

  29. I have in the past found it quite difficult as a member of the congregation to know how to construct my prayers in this silent period.
    If I have no idea how long or short the period is to be, I end up not praying effectively because at any moment my prayers may be cut short! When I get used to the amount of time a regular second reader allows, I find a better prayer forming. Since then, also, I have found that a simple prayer focussing perhaps on identifying everyone present as God's beloved perfect child, and cherishing everyone as such, enables me to feel my prayer is not going to be terminated suddenly, and that it links in to the Lord's Prayer.

  30. I have read all the of forgoing responses and have been very impressed by the depth of thought which everyone has obviously put into answering this question.

    There seems to be a wide variety of thoughts on this question, with many favoring a longer period of silent prayer, while others would like it to vary, depending on the "needs" of the congregation, as determined by the readers. Without casting my vote for a "shorter" or "longer" silent prayer, I tend to agree with Margaret (#29) who feels that a silent prayer each Sunday of a pre-determined, definite length works best because it allows one to gauge the length of one's own silent prayer.

    That being said, I liked Dave's response (#19) where he told of attending the Quaker (Friends) service where the entire service consisted of "silent prayer", only interrupted when someone had an inspiration resulting from an "inner light". (I think that this is how the Quakers refer to the inspiration which gives the congregants the desire to speak in a service.)

  31. I agree this is an important issue. When I was First Reader, I attended Taize (ecumenical) services at my husband's Anglican/Episcopalian church. They have 10 minutes of silent prayer, which I loved - it was obviously very meaningful to people who are used to having a vicar leading prayers with a couple of seconds of silent reflection! We started increasing our silent prayer in our Branch church to 2 minutes, and this seems to meet our needs for prayer which is deep and exectant of the transforming experience of the service for everyone present.

  32. This is my first visit to Church Alive website. I thank all who have responded to this week's question for your thoughtful insights. Our City Council meetings always begin with a moment of silent prayer. The time alloted varies according to our Council President and is currently very short so I appreciate the practical idea about being focused beforehand. Invariably I pray to see God's harmonious ever-presence reflected in the evening's business. In the more than 12 years that my husband and I have been attending these twice monthly meetings I have seen the fruitage of the combined prayers of our City Council, City Administration, and public attendees. Bitter debate and vicious contention has been replaced with respectful attitudes and constructive criticism. Divisive and disruptive elements have been silenced. As the years have passed I see nobler characteristics in our elected officials and their apppointees. More than once our City Council meetings have been referred to as a "love-fest." Could we expect progress to come any other way? It brings me joy to share with those who cherish silent prayer what it is doing even beyond church walls. Thank you.

  33. Last Sunday I decided to tune in to the service in Boston. When Sandy announced we would have a few moments of silent prayer followed by the audible repetition of The Lord's Prayer, I snapped my eyes shut and begin to pray for the church community I attend and for the churches throughout the world. The period went on for some time, so I continued praying, thinking it was longer for a reason. I knuckled down and found myself addressing anything that came to thought that need correct thinking about church - the period continued... and since it seemed unreasonably long, I popped by eyes open to discover my computer had flipped out and disconnected and I had spent 15 minutes of very silent prayer.
    Isn't it wonderful that our service includes this opportunity to get outside our own needs and stretch ourselves to pray for the spiritual success of others. I think "Joy" (No.22) said she points out to the audience that the silent prayer is for the congregation. Of course, we can always pray for ourselves - anytime, but that silent prayer preceding the audible Lord's Prayer was meant (by Mrs. Eddy) to be prayed for the congregation "collectively and exclusively" - whether it is a minute or fifteen minutes (which did seem a bit long!)

  34. I heard a testimony where two journalists were imprisoned in a foreign and hostile prison and their prayers seemingly were not being unanswered. Until, they suddenly realized "it is Wednesday" and somewhere in the world a Christian Science Wednesday Testimony Meeting is taking place. Very shortly thereafter they were released. This testimony changed and broadened my understanding of Mrs Eddy's instructions "collectively and exclusively" for the congregation. The church is not just 4 walls, she says it is "the structure of Truth and Love". I saw wherever one is in worship/congregated - joined in prayer to the Great and Only I AM, we are collectively and exclusively joined. On the battle field, imprisoned or wherever.
    For how long??? We the congregation and Readers will know ALL IS WELL.

  35. I liked the thoughts above that prayer time should not be too short. But before we get excited about the rest of the world, please remember that Mary Baker Eddy instituted the above by-law about prayers offered for the congregations because her students were bringing their cases into church and praying for their patients. When she preached persoally, many in the congregation were healed. This is what should happen in our services as a result of silent prayer. For those of you whose minds wander, just keep working--prayer is thought; prayer is desire; so every thought during the services should be for the unselfish purpose of uplifting the experience of the entire congregation, including ourselves.

  36. Thank you for the topic, and everyone's input. The sentence in the Manual is written in the plural (to the whole field). To regard the single church, make the sentence singular. Pray for the congregated collectively, (not as individuals, certainly not as personalities), as one.
    Pray for that church body exclusively, and leave other churches alone!

    One progressive church has for some years announced the silent prayer would be for four minutes. Being democratic, all their business is discussed by the members, for a consensus. How I appreciated knowing, as a non member the expected length of time. We do know as individual members how we feel, but we have neighbors to consider also, who would appreciate being informed.

  37. Thank you, Janet P.J. I appreciate the clarification. We are to pray for our own congregation and not any other.This has been helpful.

  38. Well, call me saddened and sobered. I beg your forgiveness, but, so much time and effort devoted to deciphering the thought, intent, will of a dead person, all for two minutes out of every week, a couple of hours out of every year, coupled with precious little mention, reference, recognition, acknowledgement of Jesus - the Master, the Christ, Son of the living God, more than a leader: Messiah, King of kings, Ruler of all nations, Friend, Savior, Lord, Redeemer, Son of Man, Shepherd, Immaculate, Prince of peace, wise Counsellor, Holy One, Immanuel, Alpha and Omega, the Word...I love it! Thank you Church Alive. It has been an eye-opener.

  39. Great ideas! Thanks to everyone.

    I love praying silently in church. There’s so much power in it! We know how greatly Mrs. Eddy valued silent prayer.

    We invite the congregation to "spend the next several minutes in silent prayer." This tells them they'll be able to pray without rushing—somewhat of a luxury in such busy times.

    The 2nd Reader and I have agreed that, after we invite the congregation to pray silently, we would just pray as long as it takes to clear our thoughts from day-to-day attractions, develop our prayer without pressure from a clock, and let it continue until we can comfortably draw it to a conclusion. Certainly, others may finish sooner, and others may not finish. But this practice seems to strike a good balance. Indeed, the congregation has thanked us for extending the time.

    So, a lot of good goes on during silent prayer. I love what Mrs. Eddy says about “expressive silence” in Miscellaneous Writings on page 124: “…It is well that Christian Science has taken expressive silence wherein to muse His praise, to kiss the feet of Jesus, adore the white Christ, and stretch out our arms to God.”

    What blessings we can expect as we embrace our congregations in such prayer!

  40. Interesting answers! Thank you all !!

    As Eddy added a whole chapter on the subject "Prayer" to S&H I get a feeling that of course prayer in church is something very essential. Perhaps not primarily really in relation to time but to the idea, she mentions about prayer: SH 1:1

    "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,".

    So to me silent prayer is an idea, referring to that state of thought that starts with God and therefore is free from all the limitations one is having when starting with little Ego. So the invitation for silent prayer to me means get out of self and support the whole comming reading from this selfless state of thought, that knows that whatever is said in the reading is possible to God right now, here and for all to experience right now. So in this sense the silent prayer goes on during the whole following service.
    Important to me is, how the invitation to silent prayer is offered, if it comes out of inspiration, it is so easy for me to be in accord with the idea of prayer, as absolute faith ... and then I just need a very short moment to be up and ready to follow the reading and pray for the congregation.

  41. To Deborah #38: Christ Jesus taught us to pray. This whole discussion has been focused on how to use what HE taught us most effectively to bless our dear neighbors around us in church. HE is the entire focus of this discussion, because we want to get it right, because HE was the greatest example of how to conduct church. We usually don't walk around all day saying "God, God, God", but our whole lives are focused on Him; in the same way it is certainly possible to have a discussion about prayer that is based on the teachings of the Christ, without mentioning his name.

  42. I'd also like to add that Mary Baker Eddy's instructions are important to us ONLY because her entire existence was devoted to living the Truth that Christ Jesus taught and lived. Because she was able to heal in an instant the way Jesus did (and expected her church to follow suit), her instructions carry a good deal of weight.

  43. Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments. Giving loving attention to each detail blesses the whole. The desire to do the highest right has to attribute to the healing service.

  44. Inge,
    Thanks for publishing my question! Here's what inspired it. My church has long been a proponent of an extra long silent prayer because it's what we, as Christian Scientists, do best. It's the most effective weapon against sin, disease, death...and mindlessness. The anti-Christ would eliminate it from a Christian Science service. We need to watch so carefully that our prayers aren't clipped short or even omitted. I was reviewing the Order of Services in the special Thanksgiving Quarterly and Silent Prayer was omitted, jumping from the Scriptural Selection to The Lord's Prayer with its spiritual interpretation. Oops! Well, guess what! In the listing of weekly (OK, bi-weekly) Questions of the Week on the Q/W lead page, the question for this topic has been omitted there, as well. That tells me we need to be soooo vigilent on this topic, to re-dedicate ourselves to the importance of silent prayer...and every other church service requirement, as well.
    Thanks so much for all you do for all of us out here.
    Really appreciate it.

  45. Thanks for that heads up, Wendy (and for the question)! I'll look into why it's not showing up on the This Week's Question landing page-- that's an automatic thing, so there's a glitch somewhere. We'll get it fixed :)

    all the best,
    Inge
    Church Alive Team