IN the face of an apparently unyielding personal trouble or a discouraging situation in a particular corner of the world, we may be tempted to feel that prayer can be of little help. Or it may not have occurred to us to pray. Yet silent communion with our creator does make a difference. Popular thinking might press upon us the feeling that prayer to God is a bit naive, that it doesn't really do anything, because, after all, suffering is inevitable, circumstances often too complex and immovable. And maybe what our eyes and ears tell us reinforces that feeling. Even so, this line of reasoning is fallacious. It comes to us in the name of realism, of self-evident truth, and yet it's missing the most important and inescapable truth of all -- that God exists, that He is almighty, that He is totally good, and that prayer can help bring this to light.
Why does God sometimes seem so absent? Why does good seem a million miles away? Why do innocent people suffer? Part of the answer may simply be that we need, individually and collectively, to be more awake to God's presence and healing power. Prayer that springs from a deep recognition that He is God -- the one God of the Bible who cares for the man of His creating, the one God whose totality precludes the legitimacy of anything that would oppose His goodness -- helps forward this awakening.
Appearances contradict the truth of God, but prayer helps us to quiet fear and to see beyond appearances to unshakable spiritual reality. And when we glimpse something of this reality -- see that God really is almighty and that man is securely in His care -- appearances can be changed. Resolutions can come into view.
This is a central message of the Bible. For example, when the prophet Elisha and his servant were surrounded by an enemy in the city of Dothan, when ``an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots,'' the servant was fearful. But the Bible tells us that ``Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.'' The account continues, ``And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.''1
Throughout the Bible, and most forcefully in the life of Christ Jesus, we can find examples of the power of prayer superseding the apparently clear-cut evidence of disease, sin, even imprisonment, bringing release to the imprisoned.
We may feel that Biblical illustrations are far removed from our own unbudging troubles. Yet they're really not, because they illustrate the universal, always available healing might of God and His Christ. Right now God is the supreme power of the universe, as He has always been, and His will for man is good alone. Right now, as always, the man of His creating is His indestructible spiritual likeness, and this reality can become evident through prayer and lead to healing.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it.''2 And in another place she says, ``To material sense, the unreal is the real until this sense is corrected by Christian Science.''3
To listen in silent prayer for God's thoughts, for His truth, for a clear sense that He is supreme and that suffering is therefore a lie about God and man, is to gain a degree of mastery over suffering. To face sin with this same conviction is to begin defeating its claims as well. The prayer that strives to discern more of what really is true, of what God has spiritually established, must inevitably, irresistibly, make a difference.
1II Kings 6:15, 17. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 2. 3Ibid., p. 298.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Is any among you afflicted? let him pray....The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:13,16