Michael Hottenstein

Clergy Column

November 17, 2012 

What do racquetball, prayer and tennis elbow have in common?

I had a love for racquetball and played four or five times per week. I was competitive and had a strong desire to win.

Over some time, however, my elbow became very sore, and my entire arm was severely weakened. As a result, it was painful to play and difficult to be competitive.

My friends in the locker room had lots of advice, often contradictory. Some said, “apply heat” while others said, “apply cold.” Other advice was “give it rest” while still others said “keep it exercised.”

After a while, I realized that I was treating the “tennis elbow” as strictly a physical problem. As a student of the bible and the teachings of Christian Science, I knew that what appears to be physical has a spiritual idea behind it.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes on page 298 of “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures” that “spiritual sense contradicting the material senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality.”

In other words, reality itself must be spiritual. I started to pray and reason along these lines: “The spiritual ideas underlying a physical elbow are God’s qualities being expressed completely, effortlessly, undiminished. These qualities of strength, flexibility, painlessness, peacefulness cannot be injured, wear out, or decline.”

I prayed along these lines several times a day over a few weeks. While nothing seemed to change physically, I stayed persistent knowing that my prayer, based on the true spiritual reality, was at work.

One Friday, I left Rec Hall feeling down because I played poorly, and my elbow was very sore. The next thing I knew, I perceived that I was surrounded by bright light and at that moment I knew I was healed. The elbow still hurt, but I forgot about it over the weekend. On Monday, I was playing racquetball and at about the middle of the second game, I realized that my elbow didn’t hurt, and I was hitting the ball with strength. I played racquetball for another 20 years without any reoccurrence of the problem.

So what happened? My prayer affirmed that I was a spiritual idea and not merely a physical body.

I did not have to turn an injured elbow into a healthy elbow. As a spiritual idea, I reflected the perfection of God. That perfection was always there, it just had to be spiritually discerned.

What was the light that enveloped me on that day? Isaiah (60:1 KJV) says, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

I think the light resulted from a material sense of reality fully yielding to a spiritual sense of reality. The healing did take some time but through a progression of thought through prayer from intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition and reality the glory of God rose upon me and his light did shine.

Michael Hottenstein is executive committee chairman of First Church of Christ, Scientist, State College.

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