DURING the great Depression in the United States, in the 1930s, unemployment was at an all-time high. But scores of accounts during those years tell of people's finding that prayer from the standpoint of Christian Science helped them immeasurably. Tough times were jarring them loose from comfortable hopes about a material existence. They were forced to depend on God to an extent they might never have expected.Their prayer actively affirmed God's total goodness and unbroken control of man and creation, and so they refused to be daunted by the obvious material evidence of what they lacked. The result again and again was that they were lifted out of a depressed state, mentally and financially. Their outlook changed from one of wondering where the next meal might be coming from to a new joy in being the children of God, who cares for His children and constantly supplies their needs. Hard times economically can be good times if they bring a reevaluation of our way of life, as individuals and as a society. We may become more honest about whether the values we say we believe in have actually been central in our actions and our lives. Such times can be the occasion for discovering the sheer necessity to us of God's reality. Prayer as understood in Christian Science isn't a matter of asking God for money or for a job or for better employment--any more than it is asking for physical health. Instead this prayer starts from the standpoint of God's, Spirit's, continuous government of man and creation and helps us accept more and more of the present existence of God's love and order--of what could be called His economy. It takes some discipline to adopt this viewpoint. A materialistic society, though it gives lip service to Go d, doesn't generally encourage us to believe in the abundance or equality of good. We can see, though, that a universe governed by divine Spirit, or Love, would be quite different from such materialistic impressions. Christ Jesus tells us we are in fact always in the presence of a loving Father. "All that I have is thine, Jesus in one of his parables describes such a father as saying. To accept this requires something of us--a really basic change of thought about both God and man. God naturally takes care of man, Jesus explains. It soon becomes apparent that far from being a passive way to live, this is a demanding discipline based on bringing oneself into line with divine Principle, which is Love. It requires givi ng up habits of thought and living that would get in the way of responding to God's already existing law and economy. For example, a tendency to put one's own supposed needs first is a blatant contradiction of the presence of the spiritual good that God supplies. This good that God gives is by no means thin, intangible, and unsatisfying. It is the one thing that is satisfying and fulfilling in our human experience. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "To the physical senses, the strict demands of Christian Science seem peremptory; but mortals are hastening to learn that Life is God, good, and that evil has in reality neither place nor power in the human or the divine econom y. Fuller acceptance of the fact that God, Spirit, is the source of our being enriches and enlarges our sense of living now. Because God is the Life of man, man by his very nature always expresses intelligence, productivity, and worth. If we are concerned about having enough, for ourselves or our world, it is time to learn more of the divine economy.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the June 17 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.