Relief work and persistent prayer

THE world's attention continues to be drawn to the plight of those many in Africa suffering from the ravages of famine and thirst. This newspaper has carried a column updating its readers on developments in the availability of water and food supplies in the affected areas. Many individuals and organizations have donated food, money, and time for the ongoing relief work. A great many have prayed for healing of the tragic suffering. Those who graciously persist with their prayers and with other kinds of participation can find strength and courage in the account of how Moses dealt with a situation centuries ago when his people were in desperate need of water. Turning to God for direction, he was told, ``Thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.'' 1 From the account, it would seem that the impossibility or even ludicrousness of the task didn't phase Moses. In the desert it was customary to find water by digging wells, but Moses was not told to procure it through the conventional source. He was instructed to do what human reasoning would consider out of the ordinary--hit a rock. There is no record that he argued with God; he proceeded to follow instructions and found a practical solution. The need for water was cared for. We might well appreciate what Moses went through and learn from his example of moral courage. Moses turned to God, listened to His instructions, and carried them out. How do we respond to the challenge presented by famine, and to the common perception that there is no immediate solution to this plight for millions of people? Do we turn to God for direction? Or do we, perhaps, become frustrated and blame nature, circumstances, bureaucracy, lack of democratic government, corruption? Regardless of where the blame would appear to lie, progress is possible through a clear perception of the supremacy of divine power. The master Christian, Christ Jesus, proved this beyond question. His works illustrated that God is the only genuine and ultimate cause and that God is wholly good. God does speak to us. One way He does it is through the record we find throughout the Bible about His goodness, power, and grace. And what are we to do? Shouldn't we acknowledge His goodness, power, and grace? This is effective prayer. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,--a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.'' 2 There is nothing myst ical about prayer. But it does take moral courage to pray and then follow the directions received through prayer, to discern the reality of God and His goodness right where He may not seem to be. Prayer is an active, joyful communion with God, our Father-Mother. It includes accepting His goodness and denying the possibility that any condition could be imposed on His beloved creation that would harm it. In His powerful love there is no room for deprivation, for ignorance, for cruelty. The man of God's creating is not a victim of circumstance but has complete dominion, and we can help, through prayer, to bring that fact to light. In prayer we're communing with a God who is active good; the loving

Father who cares for all His children. Therefore it's not wishful thinking or naivet to insist in prayer that nothing can keep God's goodness from being operative. We might not know yet how the challenge will be resolved, but we can be confident that satisfying solutions will come to light. Moses was told to smite the rock. We too may turn to God and through prayer strike out at the cold rock of mankind's inhumanity and nature's harsh laws-- vigorously, powerfully, and with the certainty of God's unconditional love. 1 Exodus 17:6. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 1.

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