HOW can prayer help us when we are facing the tragedy of a missing child? Prayer is an effective source of comfort and direction in such a crisis. Christ Jesus proved that prayer to the one God is a sure, powerful remedy even in the most desperate circumstances. The Bible records that he healed children as well as adults of severe maladies. And so today when a child is missing we can trustingly turn in prayer to the same God whom Jesus prayed to. Christian Science teaches that God, the divine Parent, is Mind--always present, omnipotent, all-knowing intelligence. When we follow the Master's example and turn to our Father-Mother God, we can find both comfort and aid. Mary Baker Eddy1 writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Omnipotent and infinite Mind made all and includes all. This Mind does not make mistakes and subsequently correct them.'' 2 A mother was able prayerfully to trust the divine Mind when her twelve-year-old son was missing. Prayer not only comforted her during his absence, it also resulted in his safe return home. After the boy had spent a holiday with his father, he had been put on a bus to return home. His mother waited for him at the bus terminal, but he was not among the returning passengers. After an hour or so the frightened mother called a Christian Science practitioner and asked for help through prayer in locating her son. The child was reported to the authorities as missing, and the mother and the practitioner continued to pray, to rely on the might of divine intelligence. As they prayed to understand that the boy was protected and cared for by God, his heavenly Father, who cherishes each of His beloved children, the mother's fear began to abate. They also prayed to know that the boy himself could listen for divine direction wherever he was. The definition of God in Science and Health helped them realize the changeless power of Deity to preserve all of His creation. It reads: ``God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.'' 3 The practitioner insisted in prayer that the boy's life and purity were safe because they were always protected by God, by infinite good. Both the practitioner and the mother began to see more clearly that God, the creator and governor of the universe, controls every detail of His creation, and that He alone was in control of the boy. Helpful also was the Biblical assurance ``Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith
the Lord.'' 4 The morning of the second day, the mother's telephone rang. It was her son. He had indeed been lured away by a disturbed individual, but the boy was safe in every respect. That morning he had been able to walk out of the house where he had been detained, find a telephone, and call his mom to come and get him. God's children are never missing from His care. We can trust Him to protect and guide our sons and daughters and bring them safely home. 1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2 Science and Health, p. 206. 3 Ibid., p. 587. 4 Jeremiah 23:23, 24.