As a Unity minister and teacher, I am accustomed to helping others, but one September day, I found myself needing others to minister to me.
I was driving to church to prepare for the evening service when I was involved in a serious automobile accident. My car was totaled, and I suffered multiple broken bones in my arms, rib cage, and foot. The swelling in my foot made it impossible to perform the necessary surgery, so doctors immobilized it until the swelling went down. It would be six weeks before the surgery could be performed, so I spent that time recuperating in a nursing home.
The external fixator used to immobilize my foot forced me to sleep on my back, which I never do, so I lay awake most nights. I chose to use the nighttime hours for prayer. I had read of mystics who prayed all night long, and now it was my chance to do so. Most of my prayer time involved prayer for my healing.
After several weeks of intense nightly prayer, I became deeply aware of the healing need that surrounded me—the other residents of the nursing home. In that moment, I chose to release my needs and minister to them. In my all-night prayer vigils, I would pray for their concerns, for their healing, and for the manifestation of God’s good in their lives.
Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore wrote, “Those who pray for some personal good have no conception of the ecstasy of those who utterly forget self in their supplications for the good to be given to others.” Several nights later I came to know the ecstasy of which Fillmore spoke.
One night, after closing my prayer time, as I rested in a peaceful state, the right side of my body, all of the injured and broken parts were bathed in a golden, healing light. To this day, I don’t know how long this transcendent experience lasted, but I do know that it was the direct result of prayer. Then the visible light was gone. In its place was the sure realization that contrary to all appearances, I was healed! I also realized that my body would require time to express the truth of my healing. In this life-changing experience, Ric the teacher became Ric the student.
Prayer is the single most powerful force for good in the universe. By first forgetting my needs then focusing attention on others, I opened the way for God’s blessings to flow into my life in new ways. I learned that those who minister to me experience the same joy I experience when I minister to others.
I learned that the Divine is expressed through each individual in unique and wonderful ways. The encouragement here and the most important thing I learned is that in times of personal challenge, I must pray less for a healing light to shine on me but instead through me. In doing so, I am first a blessing to others and then I am blessed in return.