The specter of starvation is not inevitable. It can be challenged - not only through effective relief action but through the power of prayer. Prayer is a Christian's most vital tool. When utilized effectively it can bring divine power to bear on even massive world difficulties.
But what is effective prayer?
The yearning to help is certainly a beginning. Love for our fellowman is ceaseless prayer. To successfully challenge evil, though, prayer needs the additional elements of faith and under-standing.
Faith provides a foundation for our prayer. The importance of faith is made clear throughout the New Testament. Christ Jesus said, ''All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.'' n1 In praying for those in famine-struck areas, do we expect results? If not, our prayer may be rendered ineffective even before we start. It's self-defeating to have more faith in evil than we have in God.
n1 Matthew 21:22.
On the other hand, if we trust God's unceasing care for man, we intuitively look beyond the physical complexities to the power of God, Spirit, whose help is unfailing. Confidence in God protects us against doubt, discouragement, or despair, which would undermine prayer. Having faith, we expect good. We expect to see evidence of God's care for His children. And this strengthens our prayer.
So, faith is our strong foundation. But prayer also needs understanding, because this is what brings the desired results. Spiritual understanding corrects the material beliefs, the misconceptions, about God and man that would cripple faith and perpetuate suffering.
The physical senses see man as a mortal who is separate from God, dependent on his own devices for survival. Accepting this as truth, we are apt to believe that God's power is circumscribed by so-called physical laws. But as we understand that God is divine Spirit and that man, as the Bible indicates, is the image of Spirit - hence spiritual - we begin to comprehend the unity of God and man. And this perception opens our thought to the unlimited divine possibilities.
From the standpoint of spiritual truth, every individual affected by famine can find the embrace of God's omnipotent care. Man is complete, actually dwelling in God. His Life is Spirit, not matter, and man is never deprived of the spiritual sustenance eternally flowing from God to man. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''Spirit duly feeds and clothes every object, as it appears in the line of spiritual creation, thus tenderly expressing the fatherhood and motherhood of God.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 507.
Prayer that discerns these truths, that deeply realizes them to be truth, must be, and is, effective. Our understanding that the loving Father does sustain His loved child is a potent spiritual force.
Every woman, child, and man in Ethiopia - or wherever starvation threatens - is, in his or her real being, governed directly by divine wisdom. And in the reality and allness of God and His expression, no needed thing is ever withheld or delayed. Red tape, inefficiency, or even corruption cannot actually get between God and man. They cannot obstruct the sustaining action of divine Love.
As our prayers grasp spiritual truth and become firm affirmations of truth, they will be effective. They will help pierce the nightmare of famine with the perception - and evidence - of God's eternal care for man. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16