HERE was a man of world renown -- thanking us, a chapelful of college students and professors, assorted professionals and community folks. He was thanking us for our prayers, prayers that had supported him and his colleagues in their effort to establish human rights for all their countrymen. He quoted from letters from faraway places, letters from people who said they prayed for him regularly. Then he explained how he knew that those prayers were effective. He told us of feeling almost a physical sensation of being ``borne up.''
How is it that prayer reaches halfway around the globe and touches the hearts and minds of those in need, whether that need is for justice, courage, comfort, or health? The teachings of Christian Science offer some answers.
We need to begin with an accurate conception of God, the power of good that activates Christian prayer. As we can learn from the Bible, God is all-knowing Mind, infinite Love, divine Spirit, eternal Life. This incorporeal Supreme Being is limitlessly powerful and omnipresent. The law of divine Spirit, though we can neither see nor touch it, is the law of good, in operation everywhere.
Next, we need a proper assessment of man as God's precious offspring. The Bible declares emphatically that man is made in the image of God. Man is not foreign to or distant from God, good; man is His very reflection.
When we turn to God in prayer, we are awaking to a power that has always been present. We're becoming conscious of Love's supremacy. Communing with our creator, humbly and faithfully, we discern more of His goodness and might.
In the same way, our prayer for those in far-off lands helps awaken them to the presence of Deity. Our understanding that God is right where they are, operating always as the law of good, helps them feel Love's redeeming power.
Our prayer helps dispel the mists of mortal, or carnal, thinking so that the grace of God can be more clearly seen. Our silent communion with the Father of all serves to lessen fear, anger, enmity, envy, selfishness, and aggression.
It's these false modes of thought that claim to hide or even dethrone the all-good God. But Christian affirmations and understanding of the supremacy of Spirit and of man's likeness to Spirit help destroy these errors.
Christ Jesus gave his followers what we now call the Lord's Prayer. The first line reads, ``Our Father which art in heaven,'' 1 reminding us at the outset that all individuals are actually united in the fatherhood of God.
If we're ever tempted to be indifferent or callous about the needs of our fellow beings, we might remember the words ``our Father.'' All of us do have one creator, one divine Mind, one infinite Love. It's this unity with Love that impels us to care about others compassionately and intelligently. What's more, it's the oneness of God -- present here and present there -- that empowers our prayer.
After his resurrection, Christ Jesus gave a charge to his disciples: ``Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.'' 2 We today, striving to be Christian disciples, can obey this command. We can go in prayer, in holy communion with God, to any world need. We can affirm the power of divine Love to comfort, sustain, guide, protect, and provide. We need not doubt that our prayer is effective. We do see instances where receptive hearts are feeling and responding to God's omnipotent care.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, prayed often about world situations. She prayed with an expectation of healing results. In the Christian Science textbook she states: ``The `still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, `as when a lion roareth.' It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear.'' 3
When we ourselves feel Love's nearness or Life's dearness -- as forcefully as when a lion roars -- we shouldn't be surprised. Perhaps a world neighbor is praying that peace and boundless good be established where we are! 1 Matthew 6:9. 2 Mark 16:15. 3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 559.