Today marks an annual event in the United States known as National Day of Prayer. The theme this year is from Psalms 46:1, in the Holy Bible: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
Virtually every page of the Bible is a record that illustrates over and over the truth of these words. Yet it seems now, more than ever, that people everywhere are more vulnerable to all sorts of "trouble," whether it be terrorist attacks, the corruption of political and business scandals from within, or the natural disasters and diseases that appear to be endless.
So where is God? If He's really God all-knowing, all-powerful, and, as the Bible verse indicates, ever-present why isn't He helping? Will praying get God to help more?
The same Bible that gives us the verse about God as an ever-present help also gives us this verse from James: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (5:16). Simply put, the Bible tells us prayer makes a difference. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, understood this.
In June 1905, she requested all the members of her church to pray daily for the "amicable settlement" of the war going on between Russia and Japan. Not only were the church members asked to pray for peace, but also they were asked to pray for God to bless both nations with peace and prosperity (see "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 279).
It's natural to assume that many other churches and people were praying for peace as well. It's now a matter of historical record that within weeks the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, negotiated a peace treaty between the two countries, which ended the war. The treaty became known as the Treaty of Portsmouth (New Hampshire), where it was signed. These facts symbolized to countless people that prayer indeed works not only for individuals but also for nations.
In the case of nations, as in the case of individuals, it's essential that prayer be righteous in order to be effective. The rightness of prayer includes blessing and justice for all. It can never include hurt or harm or vengeance of any kind. Therefore the motive of our prayers should never be for the peace and prosperity of one's own nation to the detriment of any other nation.
Seek God's blessing for all nations. Because we're promised that God answers this kind of praying, we're assured that His blessing will be seen and felt. This kind of praying enables governments, cultures, and individual citizens to recognize what is good and right and just. It enables them to act that way, and it helps destroy the underlying causes of terrorism and war, hopelessness, poverty, greed, envy, hatred, and the desire for revenge.
Mary Baker Eddy's words "To injure no man, but to bless all mankind," printed on the front page of every issue of this newspaper, represent the righteous motive of prayers for our nation.
Everyone, no matter what their national heritage, can pray to God genuinely expecting help, and receive it. God is infinite, divine Love. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science, a frequently quoted statement says, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need" (pg. 494).
The Love that is God expresses itself in nations, as in individuals, providing the intelligence, wisdom, strength, and courage with which to bless one's neighbors as well as oneself.
The Lord hath made bare
his holy arm in the eyes of
all the nations; and all the ends
of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.