As I prepared to leave my office one evening, I heard the news: The bridge connecting the east and west banks of the river running through our city was closed. A sniper had fired several shots at the toll plaza during rush hour. No one had been injured, but many people were terrified. Much of the city came to a virtual standstill. I felt there must be something I could do to help.
A usual response in such a situation is simply to sit tight and let the police take care of the problem. But even if the police did bring the situation under control (they did), would the cause have been dealt with? Would the city be safe now?
The path of greatest usefulness for my efforts -- the path that offered the most potential for healing and protection -- was clearly scientific prayer.
Christ Jesus had wide-ranging experience with the practical benefits of prayer. He and his disciples witnessed the power of understanding prayer to redeem lives, heal intractable disease, restore dignity and self-worth. Jesus himself surely saw no limits to what could be accomplished through scientific prayer. He even suggested that mountains could be "removed, and . . . cast into the sea." n1 And isn't it the mountains of greed and envy, hatred, lack, impoverished thought, irrational behavior, and emotional disturbance that must be removed if crime and terrorism are ever to be subdued?
n1 Matthew 21:21.
What is scientific prayer? Prayer that recognizes the unbroken relationship of God and His creation, that acknowledges man to be the spiritual image and likeness of his creator, that sees and knows something of what God, divine Mind, sees and knows. Such prayer demands to be actually demonstrated, or lived, in order to have its full effect. Certainly the envy, hate, fear, greed, and so on that reside in our thinking must be increasingly dispensed with if we are to bring an understanding of man's innate spiritual freedom to bear on the larger community and world issues. In one of her published writings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes prayer this way: "True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us. . . . It makes new and scientific discoveries of God, of His goodness and power." n2
n2 No and Yes,m p. 39.
A man I know had once been confined in a state penitentiary. His sentence would have kept him locked up throughout his youth and middle years. Yet through prayer he found his way out of the moral and mental chains that had imprisoned him. When he came to see man more clearly as the manifestation of God, as the expression of divine Love, as the outcome of divine Principle, his fetters of fear dropped away. He was making "new and scientific discoveries" of life and purpose. A deep spiritual redemption took place -- a practical redemption that restored dignity and moral courage. He came to appreciate the spiritual truth that man lacks nothing needful, for he reflects the infinite qualities of his Maker. The criminal impulses, the apparent vacuum of goodness in his experience, yielded to this higher viewpoint. He saw that man's potential for good is actually unbounded. When he was released, opportunities opened for him to become more productive and useful -- in ways completely unforeseen in his past life style.
Scientific prayer changed this man and his life. It can change others. Our own demonstrations of moral freedom and courage, our own efforts to support whatever is good and progressive in society, can do much to improve the conditions of cities and communities. The power that consistently protects us and our loved ones, that can move mountains and change the face of the world, is in the prayer that unreservedly recognizes man's present status as the child of God -- each one precious and valued by the Father-Mother. Unafraid, under God's sheltering arm, we can help meet the challenge of crime. DAILY BIBLE VERSE His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. For he will not l ay upon man more than right. Job 34:21-23