New Thought Editorials > The Magic of Believing


Winter 2007

The Magic of Believing

New Thought author and speaker Terry McBride, during a particularly low moment in the course of a long, chronic illness, found himself wondering why God seemed to answer some people’s prayers but not his. Growling at God, as many of us sometimes do, he picked up his much-marked Bible and declared, "God, I demand to find the answer. This book says that if I ask, it shall be given, and I now demand that it be given. This book says that if I seek, I shall find, and I now demand that I shall find. This book says that if I knock on a door, it will be opened, and I now demand that door be opened." Randomly opening the Bible, he found only one phrase underlined on the pages before him: "Thy faith hath made thee whole" (Luke 8:48).

The passage comes from the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment and was instantaneously healed. Jesus had felt power go out from him, but this is the only instance of a healing in which he did not actively take part. The woman had believed that she would be healed if she could touch his garment, and it was that belief that healed her.

Jesus frequently spoke of the importance of one’s beliefs, one of his most famous quotations being the passage, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard . . . nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matt. 17:20). What matters is not the size or importance of the belief, but that it is consistently held, without competing or conflicting beliefs cancelling it out. We may agree with a statement, like the sound of it, want to believe in it, but not really hold to it deep in our subconscious mind. This explains why some prayers are answered and others aren’t. Jesus said to the father of a child possessed by a "dumb spirit", "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mk 9:23-24). Terry had to develop ways to strengthen his frail belief that he could be healed until it was an unshakable certainty. It took five years, but it was total and lasting.

In one of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus, when doubting Thomas was present, Jesus commented, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). The author of Hebrews echoes this: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (11:1).

New Thought techniques such as affirmation and visualization may help increase belief, but only if one monitors one’s consciousness and notes what is happening to one’s beliefs. If you are praying for rain, are you taking your umbrella when you go out? Parroting slogans only brings what New Thought author Emmet Fox called the parrot’s demonstration. One of Terry’s big Ahas was that he had been a seeker after healing, and that as long as he continued to be a seeker, he would continue to seek! He had to install the belief that he would find ways to heal and carry them out. He had to play with his affirmations until they clicked for him, until they were believable to him. It didn’t matter whether they matched some guru’s rules for affirmations, but what effect they had on his faith in his ability to control the power of God, as he put it. Terry didn’t want to make anyone else wrong in his or her beliefs; he just wanted to make up the game the way he wanted it, using what helped support his beliefs. He noted that many loved and respected New Thought authors held diametrically opposed views, and that was fine for them, but not for him.

Writer, lawyer, investment banker, and foreign correspondent Claude Bristol literally wrote the book on believing, his best seller The Magic of Believing. Using the investigative training of a newspaperman, he pursued what he called "mind stuff", influenced early in his career when a law school instructor gave him a copy of Thomson J. Hudson’s The Law of Psychic Phenomena, a book prized by New Thought authors Thomas Troward and Ernest Holmes. Here’s what he learned:

I discovered that there is a golden thread that runs through all the teachings and makes them work for those who sincerely accept and apply them, and that thread can be named in the single word—belief. It is this same element or factor, belief, which causes people to be cured through mental healing, enables others to climb high the ladder of success, and gets phenomenal results for all who accept it. Why belief is a miracle worker is something that cannot be satisfactorily explained; but have no doubt about it, there’s guneine magic in believing. "The magic of believing" became a phrase around which my thoughts steadily revolved. (Page 6)

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Elder Brother and Way-shower, along with the birth of a new year, let us work to increase our faith that the desires God has put in our hearts are on their way to us. Just as we are, we accept them with joy and gratitude.