Back in the early 1970s, a longstanding battle between Navajos and Hopis in the American West flared up over common reservation boundaries.
Not unlike the disagreement between Israelis and Palestinians, both tribes demanded property rights for the disputed territory. Tempers raged, and the federal government stepped in, in part by forcing Navajos off land that the Hopis claimed belonged to them.
As winter approached, over 100 displaced families were shuttled to a makeshift camp in the tribal capital at Window Rock, Ariz.
A year earlier, I'd lived on the Navajo reservation, where I ran a summer education and recreation program primarily for Navajo children in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the tribe. Native American friends told stories of fighting along the border between the reservations. I'd also seen many families living below subsistence level. Because tribal life appears tenuous, I was well aware of how the government's decision affected the displaced families.
A few days before Thanksgiving, the legal counsel for the tribe asked me for help. He was concerned that these families had nowhere to go and nothing to protect them from the approaching cold. Furthermore, the children in the camp were unlikely to receive Christmas presents. He wondered if I could help.
I launched a process of gathering food, clothing, blankets, and gifts. I called friends and put notices on bulletin boards. I tried to involve others who had some contact with the tribe, and informed my church of the needs. After a few weeks of pouring my heart and soul into this, I'd collected a meager number of items. How could I ever get enough for these families to survive the winter – let alone have a meaningful Christmas? I felt overwhelmed.
Then I realized that while I had a role to play, I wasn't the source of the solution. I needed to draw from the infinite source of everyone's provision – divine Love. I set aside all organizing and began to pray.
The Apostle Peter provides a good foundation for prayer regarding world conditions when he observed: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Because God doesn't play favorites, everyone has access to boundless good, infinite opportunity, and infinite success. Every individual has a purpose and place. Every idea or creation of God is essential to Him and has a specific destiny to fulfill.
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "God, without the image and likeness of Himself, would be a nonentity, or Mind unexpressed. He would be without a witness or proof of His own nature" (p. 303).
Regardless of race, religion, gender, age, or socioeconomic standing, we're all equally important to His infinite expression. Every voice is essential to the whole chorus of ideas. Were it otherwise, God's boundless nature wouldn't be expressed completely.
This understanding reveals the ever-active Christ that throws off material limitations, and allows one's innate value to surface. It highlights the dignity of each individual and brings into focus one's eternal, unbreakable link to God.
I've often seen one person's willingness to lift thought to the Christ ideal transform his or her experience. If this is possible for an individual, what could it do globally – elevating thought to the Christ-consciousness that includes all humanity.
Effective prayer resists asking God to come down to fix problems of poverty, conflict, and homelessness, because it rests on an understanding of what God actually is and does. God doesn't sit on a cloud and bestow good on some but withhold it from others. God is infinite, impartial Love, operating like the sun, shining on all equally.
As I prayed about the Navajos, I addressed poverty and homelessness, and focused on specific concerns such as displacement, limited opportunity, loss of usefulness, and the belief that God provides for some and not for others. Establishing, through our prayers, the spiritual fact of God's care for and unity with His children, reveals that God, the source of infinite good, provides abundantly for everyone, despite conditions that may seem overwhelming.
As my conviction of Love's eternal provision increased, the name of a national youth group came to mind. I explained to them the situation and what was needed. Within a few days, they had a truck en route to the reservation with the necessary provisions.
This experience taught me that muscle power isn't sufficient to meet the world's needs. The greatest gift any of us can offer is scientifically based prayer that begins with a benevolent Father who ably provides for all of His children. Then, we'll be quiet enough to hear what steps should be taken and to know how to act on them.
Adapted from www.spirituality.com.