The Spiritual Interpretation:
Children attending the Christian Science Sunday Schools recite the Lord’s Prayer from the King James version of the Bible on Sundays. They should be taught that when they get the opportunity to visit the church service on Sunday, the Spiritual Interpretation given by Mary Baker Eddy is included. The Second Reader leads the congregation in saying each line of the Prayer with a pause in between, so that the First Reader can read the Spiritual Interpretation. At Wednesday Evening church services, the Lord’s Prayer without the Spiritual Interpretation is used. In the Church Manual, Mrs. Eddy requests that the children in the Sunday School be taught the Spiritual Interpretation, along with the traditional lines of the Lord’s Prayer. The lessons in this book will include both.
An interesting topic for discussion or study for older pupils is the evolution of the Spiritual Interpretation. You can find this information in the book In My True Light and Life, Mary Baker Eddy Collections, published by The Writings of Mary Baker Eddy and The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity.
The Section “Evolution of Mary Baker Eddy’s spiritual sense of the Lord’s Prayer,” starts on page 295. Some highlights to point out:
We learn that the Lord’s Prayer and Mrs. Eddy’s Spiritual Interpretation was in the very first edition of Science and Health published in 1875. However, it was edited in at least fifteen editions that followed. You will also see in this section on “Evolution” images of pages from the various editions of the textbook.
We read on page 302 that Mrs. Eddy said the Lord’s Prayer was “the utterance of Spirit, and not human petitionings.” That appears to be a non-traditional point-of-view, and could be a subject for discussion with an older group of students.
Starting with the 16th edition, Mrs. Eddy ended the Prayer with “So be it,” rather than “Amen,” as the Bible has it. It continued this way until the 100th edition of 1896.
See the letter on page 313. It has a brief and interesting summary of how to pray the Lord’s Prayer found in paraphrases of the lines of the Prayer.
There are only a few, but useful, citations in Mrs. Eddy’s writings, that refer specifically to the Lord’s Prayer. Most well-known are the paragraphs in Science and Health immediately preceding the Lord’s Prayer with the Spiritual Interpretation:
“Our Master taught his disciples one brief prayer, which we name after him the Lord’s Prayer. Our Master said, ‘After this manner therefore pray ye,’ and then he gave that prayer which covers all human needs. There is indeed some doubt among Bible scholars, whether the last line is not an addition to the prayer by a later copyist; but this does not affect the meaning of the prayer itself.
“In the phrase, ‘Deliver us from evil,’ the original properly reads, ‘Deliver us from the evil one.’ This reading strengthens our scientific apprehension of the petition, for Christian Science teaches us that ‘the evil one,’ or one evil, is but another name for the first lie and all liars.
“Only as we rise above all material sensuousness and sin, can we reach the heaven-born
aspiration and spiritual consciousness, which is indicated in the Lord’s Prayer and which instantaneously heals the sick.” (S&H 16:7-23)
When teaching children about the universal love and acceptance of the Lord’s Prayer, you might point out this citation:
“All Christian churches have one bond of unity, one nucleus or point of convergence, one prayer, — the Lord’s Prayer. It is matter for rejoicing that we unite in love, and in this sacred petition with every praying assembly on earth, — ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’” (Pulpit and Press 22:3-8)
Here is a similar citation which speaks of Mrs. Eddy’s love of the Lord’s Prayer and other devotions as a child:
“Among the list of blessings infinite I count these dear: Devout orthodox parents; my early culture in the Congregational Church; the daily Bible reading and family prayer; my cradle hymn and the Lord’s Prayer, repeated at night; my early association with distinguished Christian clergymen, who held fast to whatever is good, used faithfully God’s Word, and yielded up graciously what He took away.” (’01 31:20-27)
And she speaks of the Lord’s Prayer in regard to our motives and dedication:
“Our Master said, ‘Ye shall drink indeed of my cup.’ Jesus stormed sin in its citadels and kept peace with God. He drank this cup giving thanks, and he said to his followers, ‘Drink ye all of it,’ — drink it all, and let all drink of it. He lived the spirit of his prayer, — ‘Thy kingdom come.’ Shall we repeat our Lord’s Prayer when the heart denies it, refuses to bear the cross and to fulfil the conditions of our petition?” (Mis. 211:26-1)
“The Scripture says, ‘Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss;’ and is it not asking amiss to pray for a proof of divine power, that you have little or no faith in because you do not understand God, the Principle of this proof? Prayer will be inaudible, and works more than words, as we understand God better. The Lord’s Prayer, understood in its spiritual sense, and given its spiritual version, can never be repeated too often for the benefit of all who, having ears, hear and understand.” (Hea. 15:23-3)
“In divine Science all belongs to God, for God is All; hence the propriety of giving unto His holy name due deference, — the capitalization which distinguishes it from all other names, thus obeying the leading of our Lord’s Prayer.” (My. 225:12-16)
There are some testimonies containing appreciation for the Lord’s Prayer, which you might have your students read. See “A Helpful Testimony” in the textbook on page 691, starting at line 18. In Miscellaneous Writings, on page 433, there is a testimony in which the Lord’s Prayer was used to help an infant. And on pages 445-446 of the same book, we read of a woman who visited her first Christian Science service and was deeply impressed with the spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer. These testimonies can be a springboard for discussions on how the Lord’s Prayer may have affected your students in their own lives.
(Excerpted from “First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume Three: The Lord’s Prayer”
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