I came to Chicago as a new bride. Two days after our wedding, my husband and I took a 250-mile train trip to Chicago. He had just been released from the Army after serving in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. There we were in this big city without jobs or a place to live. We came here because we felt it was brimming with opportunity and a place to escape small-town interference.
My husband had had little work experience because of having been drafted into the Army upon our graduating from college. While I had done some freelance writing for the Chicago Board of Education, I had no prospects for a full-time job there. Still, this is where we wanted to live.
Later, after I began to study Christian Science, I recognized the truth of this statement in Mary Baker Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (p. 1). Our desire to be in Chicago may have started out as based on wanting to get away from small-town interference, but as our spiritual understanding increased, our goals were uplifted and turned in a more spiritual direction. Eventually my husband had his own business, and I had useful employment also.
Like any big city, Chicago had – and has – its share of problems. Our study of Christian Science, however, enabled us to see the city in a positive and spiritual light. By clinging to the principles of prayer that Jesus taught, we learned to see signs of God’s omnipresence in the city and discovered that our prayers could help the community.
Today’s cities face big challenges but also have great potential for positive, constructive activity. Urban life can include crime, crumbling neighborhoods, neglected schools, drug abuse, and unemployment. And times of economic recession can hit cities particularly hard. Here again, the spiritual promise of God’s care helps us pray with inspiration. Speaking of “the city of God,” the psalmist sang, “God is in the midst of her ... God shall help her, and that right early” (Ps. 46:5).
Each municipality, large and small, can, through the actions of its citizens, express more qualities of this "city of God," including love, joy, peace, honesty, trust, aspiration. Prayer that acknowledges God’s good, omnipotent control of His creation is needed to keep our cities moving in the right direction. This prayer embraces everyone. Nobody can be left out of the bountiful opportunities that cities provide. Seeing ourselves and one another as the image and likeness of an altogether good God leads to rightful activity and away from criminal and self-destructive behavior.
Many times I’ve seen the power of prayer to transform people and places. It can open the door to change for cities and for people – like my husband and me – who bring their aspirations to these dynamic urban environments.
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