Prayer and Aid

MANY situations today call for compassionate care. Events in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Somalia, in Florida, Hawaii, and the Philippines, in Pakistan, have focused world thought on the issue of how best to respond. Prayer can support the unfoldment of answers to these heartfelt desires.

A few years ago, news stories highlighted a disaster in a country that was hostile to other, richer, nations. Aid was desperately needed, but it seemed that the political antipathy of many of that country's leaders would prevent them from accepting aid. I--like many people--turned to prayer to help resolve the predicament.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, I found an idea that I felt answered my prayer. She writes, speaking of God as divine Love, ``Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." This showed me that God's care couldn't possibly be kept out!

As I kept pondering this idea, I saw that a truly substantial aid program was already in place, the care of God, omnipresent good, for all His creation. This ever-available aid is spiritual. It is God's universal meeting of our individual needs. This is aid that acts by divine law, is immediately responsive, impartial, irresistible, and never wasted or misused. It is faultlessly coordinated, because there is one Mind--the divine Mind, God--organizing every aspect of its availability. What's more, self-ce ntered human actions--whether political or criminal-- can't touch God's willingness and ability to help each and every one of His children. Through prayer this fact can be discovered and proved. In the Bible the Psalmist sang, ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

In the situation that I was praying about a surprising reversal of outlook occurred. The nation did allow other nations to cross its borders and bring in the invaluable aid. This provided vital relief in the disaster area. More than this, however, accepting the aid opened up opportunities for the citizens to meet relief workers from so-called enemy countries and express love and respect toward them in a heartening glimmer of brotherhood. Because these events took place against all expectation, I felt sur e they were the direct outcome of the prayers of all those throughout the world who were praying about the crisis situation.

While we may wish to make practical or financial contributions to assist humanitarian aid efforts, we can always offer these in addition to the immediate and far-reaching support of our prayer. Both right practical action and unselfed prayer evidence the activity of the One who is the source of all willingness to care: divine Love, God. The Christly strength and wisdom that Christ Jesus best exemplified will find practical expression in proportion to our recognition of the aid that God gives universally- -the spiritual good He delivers directly and individually to each of His children. Even where we can't humanly reach our fellowman, we can prayerfully know that God's responsive care is still available.

Prayer is also vital in order to honor and uplift those in need. As we pray to support those requiring aid by recognizing the invaluable spiritual worth of each one of them, we resist perceiving them as a burden in their hour of need. We all are truly spiritual children of the one God and are burdensome neither to Him nor to humanity. Taking the time prayerfully to know this unites us with the Bible demand to love our neighbor as ourself.

Such prayer will aid relief workers in troubled areas to do their tasks well. It also enables us to play our own part in evidencing God's inexhaustible capacity to meet humanity's pressing needs.

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