Debra Chew: Spiritual Exercise For A Healthier You This Year

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - by Debra Chew

Like many people, my January resolutions usually peter out by March. But, an article in O (Oprah’s) Magazine gave me a tip on what I could do to change that - don’t begin them until February. Apparently, that makes them easier to stick to.  

The O writer suggested using Jan. 1 and the following few weeks as a “planning time.”  Then, perhaps the first or second Wednesday in February, implement your new goals/changes.  With that in mind, it’s just about time for me (and you) to start. 

As you are settling into the new year, you may already be focusing on being healthier.  You may have implemented a resolution plan to “prevent” disease - eat better, exercise more, etc. - but are you ignoring the most important thing...taking care of your spiritual sense?  While diet and exercise are said to bring about countless health benefits (including preventing disease), there is more to finding a healthier you.   

Exercising your spiritual sense may just be the best resolution you could make this year.  But exactly how would you go about doing that? Through prayer, of course. 

The concept of praying to improve health or prevent disease is nothing new.  Throughout the centuries, prayer has served as the means for connecting with the Supreme Being in a way that has measurable health results. In the Old Testament story (Exodus 15:26), God promises the Hebrew children that if they will stick with His commandments, He will keep them from diseases because he is the Lord that heals them. The best example of someone who exercised his spiritual muscle to help people find health is Jesus.      

Of course, even before Jesus and outside of Hebrew traditions, people were beginning to glimpse the relationship between our thinking and our health. In the words of Hippocrates, a Greek physician and key figure in the history of medicine, “Whatever affects the mind affects the body and vice versa.  The mind and the body cannot be considered independently.  When the two are out of sync, then both emotional and physical stress can erupt.”  

Fast forward to today and Healthsearches.org reports that evidence exists concerning  the healing power prayer has on the mind and body. The site provides information on clinical studies documenting the health benefits of prayer on the immune system.  In their section “Integrative and Alternative Medicine,” you will find the website’s recommended reading on the positive effect of prayer on health.  The suggested books describe the real force of prayer in preventing and overcoming disease.  One author, L. Dossey, MD, sums it up like this: “…don’t wait for the results of more double-blind studies to pray.  We can stand to have more extraneous prayer in this world of ours.”   

In my experience, we can also afford to have more intrinsic prayer. For example, a few years ago, I was struggling with some nagging issues.  I was aggravated, stressed, unhappy, and just generally felt unwell.  I kept trying to find some reason/excuse for the lack of harmony in my life.  On the surface, it seemed I was focusing on some challenges at a new job while trying to juggle the needs of home and family.  I felt like I was running in circles, kind of like when my dog, Gracie, chases her tail and gets nowhere.

During this time, I read from Ecclesiastes 3:1.  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (NIV)  For me, that activity was prayer.  And, before very long, I found that by praying first, I had time for everything else – time to work, attend church, complete responsibilities for home and family, even fun activities for myself – and I no longer had those old health issues.     

Mary Baker Eddy understood the preventive role that prayer plays in exercising our spiritual sense to better care for our health. In my own experience, Eddy’s words in her textbook on healing, “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God” certainly rang true.  

Eddy further explained,  “It is better to prevent disease from forming in mortal mind afterwards to appear on the body; but to do this requires attention.” (Science and Health, p 198)  This “attention” can best be thought of as consistent prayer for one’s health.   

So, as you embark on your 2015 improvement plans, make a resolution to spend more time in prayer...exercising your spiritual sense.  That consistent communion with God will take your health far beyond what diet and exercise can do.   

Debra writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and wellness from a Christian Science perspective.  She has been published in the UK, chattanoogan.com, UK Health Triangle Magazine, Jackson Sun Health Magazine, and in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.  She is the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in TN


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