IN a world where there is so much plenty, hunger seems out of place. Yet tonight people in Sarajevo, in Somalia, in India, and elsewhere are going to bed hungry. And many others will hunger in the days to come.
Relief efforts make sense. But these are sometimes stalled by government interference, warfare, and similar obstacles. What is needed in such cases is something that will quickly cross international boundaries and have an impact on the situation.
This ``something is prayer, and all of us who love mankind can contribute to this effort. James tells us in the Bible, ``The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. One pattern that shows up in the Old Testament as well as in the New is people's failure to recognize good that is already at hand. Hagar, for instance, was alone in the desert wilderness and thought she and her child would die of thirst. Through prayer, the Bible tells us in Genesis, her eyes were opened to a well, right a t hand.
In the New Testament, Christ Jesus' disciples failed to understand God's loving care for man and thus thought it would be impossible to feed five thousand people with a few loaves and fishes. Yet, Matthew's Gospel reports, the seemingly impossible did occur --and there was food left over!
What keeps us from experiencing this abundance of God's love is the belief that we are material beings, living in separate nations, cut off from one another and also cut off from good, from God. This feeling can be especially strong in times of war and famine.
Jesus and the prophets have given us a powerful body of testimony that counters this erroneous belief in and dependence on materiality. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power. This spiritual power is supreme because God is Spirit and man is His image and likeness. Man, the offspring of God, divine Love, is fully capable of knowi ng Love and expressing this spiritual quality in his life. As we pray for the world's hungry, then, our prayers can vigorously affirm the presence of divine Love and of the healing Christ throughout the globe--and in troubled areas specifically.
This affirmation is more than a way of making ourselves feel better about conditions. It turns us to the same spiritual law that enabled Jesus to feed thousands, the law that has brought inspired answers to students of the Scriptures. These insights lead to solutions. Prayer can reveal good right where conditions seem to be most barren. Or it may be that warring factions will yield before the power of divine Love. Each situation is unique, but genuine prayer is effective in each one.
Being such a powerful tool for good, prayer also has an impact on our own lives. As we obey God's law, our hearts begin to open up to our fellow humans, including those we may not like very much. We begin to see that it is less important to take sides than it is to recognize that all are the children of God. We can--however reluctantly--accept the fact that all are valued by God. When we do this, we are inspired to find new ways to meet human needs. This increase in love for one another helps to decrease
the apathy and outright hatred in our world. It actually helps to bring peace. Such regenerative prayer reaches beyond our personal borders. It doesn't need a passport or visa. It touches human hearts wherever they are, it feeds them with the same love that informed all of Jesus' works, and it heals.