CAN prayer help? Waiting in a small commuter plane for takeoff, I turned to God in prayer to realize the inherent safety of everyone at this busy international airport, to see all as cared-for children of God, the one Father of us all. Media reports of near misses, operational errors, traffic violations, are compounding public concern about air travel. To keep my thinking God-centered, I opened a small hymnal that I carry when traveling. The first verse of one of the hymns reads, Everlasting arms of Love Are beneath, around, above; God it is who bears us on, His the arm we lean upon.1
This comforting message supported my trust in God as all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing Mind, to whom we can turn to know what we need to know now for our safety. I asked myself, ``What is really predictable?'' The answer: ``Only good is predictable. Only good is possible. Only good is provable because God is good, infinite and omnipotent.''
Our flight took off. But before long there was a startling screeching sound, repeated after a few moments. The pilot announced that we were returning to the airport to check out the problem. He advised us to take our carry-on luggage, should we need to change planes. I was thankful that the trouble had surfaced early; and we were soon airborne again on the same plane.
During the flight I realized that I had been considering this aircraft as inferior and probably not as safe as the larger planes. So I began to appreciate the smaller plane for meeting diverse needs. I was learning that more gratitude lifts our vision to see the good to be discerned in every situation, and that regardless of our location or mode of travel, we can find protection through the understanding that man is actually governed by God's law of irreversible, ever-present good. Man lives and moves in God's all-encompassing presence. ``Whither shall I flee from thy presence?''2 the Psalmist asked.
I felt reassured by this passage, familiar to me from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy3: ``Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God's unerring direction and thus bring out harmony.''4
These concepts, understood, and applied to the immediate situation through prayer, took away my uneasiness. I remembered a sentence that I had studied that morning from the same book: ``Truth never made error necessary, nor devised a law to perpetuate error.''5 Anxiety about any further trouble left me as I continued to gain a ``proper sense of God's unerring direction.'' We experienced a smooth, trouble-free flight.
Through prayer we can gain an assurance of God's allness and the consequent powerlessness of evil to obstruct God's purpose. Such prayer doesn't ignore evil; it doesn't naively disregard human suffering and tragedy. Rather, it embodies a perception of the perfect spiritual reality that transcends the appearance of evil, and on this basis helps to prevent and heal suffering.
Christ Jesus proved the certainty of man's perpetual safety not only for himself but for others. He knew his unseverable relationship to God, saying, ``He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.''6
Prayer in Christian Science involves listening -- receptivity to the spiritual ideas from God that enable us to understand Him as Love, always present with us to deliver us from danger or accident. Freedom from hazards does not depend as much on favorable human factors as on a cultivated spiritual apprehension of God's unchanging goodness right at hand, and of the certainty of divine law. We are not alone.
Truly prayer can prevent accidents in our homes, schools, workplaces, and in the air.
1Christian Science Hymnal, No. 53. 2Psalms 139:7. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4Science and Health, p. 424. 5Ibid., p. 183. 6John 8:29.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27