Dealing with anger through prayer
A Christian Science perspective.
Anger management is a frequent topic of discussion these days. Various techniques and classes have been designed to help adults and children handle anger issues in ways that are neither destructive nor disruptive. As someone who has spent some time both in lively classrooms and in stressful offices, I appreciate efforts to effect a more peaceful environment. But these techniques and classes assume that anger is an integral part of who we are—something one needs to live with, manage, cope with in some way. In other words, the assumption is that anger is just part of our nature.
Are we truly flawed beings? If we believe what the Bible teaches – that God is infinite, all-power, and good, and that we are His image and likeness – we then must be infinitely good. This is in fact our true nature. God didn’t make us angry any more than He made us sick. This picture of an angry or sick mortal can’t be what God sees. Jesus explained this seeming contradiction by identifying evil, the devil, as “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
That picture of angry, squabbling, sick, and sinful mortals turns out to be erroneous – part of the bigger lie of life caught in matter and separated from God. Aided by the ever-present Christ – God’s tangible presence that comes to our consciousness and lifts us up – we can wake up from this lie when we get a glimpse of our true spiritual nature as God’s image and likeness. In this transforming Christ-light, we grasp God’s infinitely good nature, and we experience healing. In this Christ-light, anger isn’t just managed; it is eradicated.
Staying in the light might seem awfully hard. I love a verse from the Bible that indicates something of how Jesus spent his day. It’s a simple verse from Luke: “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (4:14). To me, being “in the power of the Spirit” means that one’s thought is so aligned with the infinite nature of Spirit, God, that any deviation from that standard of perfection is impossible. It’s not a matter of willpower in refraining from anger, but of consecration to good that makes the suggestion of anger impossible. Certainly it takes disciplined prayer to achieve this Christly consciousness, but Jesus did tell us to follow his example, and he wouldn't have given us an impossible task to perform.
I find that preparing myself every day, by studying the Bible and praying, helps me see my true identity as God’s perfect idea, and this is invaluable when those temptations of irritation, frustration, and outright anger come along. I was always told I had a terrible temper, and I believed it for years and acted that way. I’m not saying that I’ve completely overcome all temptations to be angry, but learning to follow Jesus’ example by moving “in the power of the Spirit” has certainly helped.
As God’s sons and daughters, each of us lives as the reflection of divine Life. This Life is steady, continuous, without provocation, and is marked by continuously developing good. Seeing God as our Life helps me know that God is right there next to me, always providing me with all the good I need.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote in her major work, “Let discord of every name and nature be heard no more, and let the harmonious and true sense of Life and being take possession of human consciousness” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 355).
To see the allness of God, the divine Life, expressed in human experience, so that there just isn’t any opportunity to react angrily – this is to me the eradication, not just management, of anger. As I’ve been able to let God take possession of my consciousness, my days have been a lot smoother and my relationships happier.
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