I LIVE in the United States and have friends who live in many other parts of the world. Even though I don't see them very often, these friends are very important to me. I am concerned about what happens in their lives. And I include them in my prayer. Yet, just as important are all the people I don't happen to know. They, too, need our care and concern. So when I'm praying, I try to remember God's care for everyone--the people I've met, and the ones I've yet to meet--even people who live in areas utterly
remote from my own.
You may feel--and pray--the same way about the world. But do you ever wonder if there is a limit to the distance over which prayer is effective? And are there physical or political boundaries that prayer cannot cross?
I've been learning that prayer is not a finite, material power. Acknowledging God to be infinite, ever-present divine Spirit, is the reason behind, and the basis for, our prayer. The power of prayer, then, is exclusively spiritual. There is no way to limit the influence of God, Spirit. So prayer can't be hindered by distance. And it's not constrained or impeded by politics, mountains, or deserts--by any physical or ideological barriers.
Taking a moment to pray for people who live in far-off lands--people we will perhaps never meet--can bring tremendous satisfaction to our lives as well as blessings to others. We are satisfied and others are blessed because prayer reveals God's creation to human thought. To know what God has done--and is doing-- enriches us; we become progressively more free from the constraints of mortality. As the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, points out in her book Science and Health wi th Key to the Scriptures, ``Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us."
How can we best pray for people living in areas where it seems that war or geography keep even the most basic supplies from reaching them? Humble prayer can help us to discern and understand exactly how God provides for the needs of His children. Christ Jesus once said, as Matthew's Gospel tells us, ``Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"
How does He feed us? Jesus' description of how we can pray to see God's provision was: ``Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Seeking the kingdom of God can provide for people's needs in practical ways. The kingdom of God is where everyone, as God's creation, truly lives. Because we, in reality, reflect God's infinite nature , we are eternally provided with His spiritual goodness.
A knowledge of this fact doesn't simply allow us to look forward to good, it helps us here and now. It was this kind of prayer and understanding that enabled Jesus to feed multitudes of people with only a few fish and loaves of bread. We can expect answers to prayer to be just as wonderful today, but adequate to each individual need. We might, for example, see decreased resistance to the arrival and distribution of food supplies. Or we might see order restored in a chaotic situation. Or the change might be as small as hostility removed from a single heart. But whether we ever learn of specific people helped by our prayers, you and I can continue to pray for people in different areas of the world. And with each degree of success, we can rejoice together.
It makes sense to seek ``the kingdom of God"--to hunger to know the spiritual nature of God and man. No matter where someone is living who needs help, through heartfelt prayer, we can know that each individual is really God's cherished creation, tenderly provided for with all of God's spiritual goodness.
Distance, physical barriers, or political boundaries don't need to discourage us from praying. The healing and redemption of mankind are what we are praying for, and we owe our fellowman all the love we can give. Through selfless prayer we can help bring to all of humanity more of the truth that, as God's beloved children, we each have His provision wherever we are, whenever we need it, and in a way that is practical.
O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. . . . Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. . . . Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day . . . . How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O Go d! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
Psalms 139:1, 7-10, 12, 17, 18