Embracing Burma's orphans
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
A recent headline in this newspaper asked, "How many orphans in Burma?". The story pointed out that in Burma (Myanmar), records are minimal and surnames not used. While it's not easy to know if a displaced child was actually orphaned by cyclone Nargis or simply separated from his or her parents, hundreds of children are living as orphans. The article notes, "Many children sit with vacant expressions, in shock and grief." The story also mentions that too many children in that country and other poor nations are always in danger of being exploited and even sold into slavery.
This is a call for prayer, especially for that prayer of prayers called the Lord's Prayer (see Matt. 6:9-13). It starts by acknowledging that no one, in true spiritual being, is an orphan, because the first two words of the prayer include everyone. It begins, "Our Father." Whether those displaced children are humanly orphaned or simply separated temporarily from their parents, they still have a Father. And this heavenly Parent can be appealed to by them and by others on their behalf.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, often prayed the Lord's Prayer. And in one place in the textbook of Christian Science she wrote, "Here let me give what I understand to be the spiritual sense of the Lord's Prayer" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 16). The first line, "Our Father which art in heaven," meant to her "Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious." This immediately denies the status of orphanhood and includes all as one family. Further, she interprets the statement that God is in heaven to mean that all is harmonious. [Editor's note: The original version misquoted Science and Health.]
These children can never actually leave this harmonious home. Our recognition of this in prayer opens the way to finding their parents or people who will adopt them. It also aids in uncovering and forestalling child abuse. Our Father-Mother God protects all His-Her children.
Jesus gave his disciples and other followers – including us today – not only the understanding of God as Parent but as King or Ruler. He said to pray, "Thy kingdom come." While some children may be forcefully separated from the guidance and control of their human parents, they're not outside the kingdom of heaven. Our prayers, recognizing this spiritual fact, will help them find and conform to God's government and be safe.
Another line of the Lord's Prayer states, "Thy will be done in earth, as is it in heaven." Based on this affirmation of God's government, Mrs. Eddy's words plead, "Enable us to know, – as in heaven, so on earth, – God is omnipotent, supreme."
Affirming the supremacy and omnipotence of God in prayer reveals that nothing is more powerful and effective than God's will. The power to bring harmony and rightful parenting into the lives of those orphans cannot be overcome by cyclones or human treachery. The power of divine Love cannot be equaled, thwarted, or prevented from fulfilling all their needs.
Other basic petitions, as Jesus outlined them, include "Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Petitioning God for these blessings is never for oneself alone but for everyone – for "us."
Many Bible scholars believe that the last line of the Lord's Prayer, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, didn't come from Jesus. It is nevertheless a grand conclusion: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
While some prayers for the Burmese orphans may not be in the exact words of the Lord's Prayer, they all have their source in and fruition from the one God, the eternal Parent. Nothing should prevent us from praying for those children, and nothing can prevent those prayers from being answered.