Some American companies have paid their highest wage earners over 200 times what they paid the lowest earners, a recent newspaper report said. Such gaps in earnings make no sense to many people, and symbolize for them grave economic injustice. Many individuals have taken steps to solve their individual financial problems, and through hard work and prayer have found help. But there are still many disenfranchised people who live desperate lives. Do our hearts reach out in prayer for them?
We can combat and correct the visible and hidden evils that are keeping people unjustly destitute, rather than blame them for their problems or simply justify ourselves in what we have accomplished.
No one need apologize for honest work and fair compensation; life in this world requires that of us. But Jesus Christ, whom millions call their Saviour, pointedly rebuked self-righteousness and judgment of others. He cautioned against arrogance and trust in material wealth. He showed how to turn to God for provision.
Jesus clearly indicated the need to love one another. This sometimes includes providing practical care, and his parable of the good Samaritan defines a very high level of caring (see Luke 10:30-37). Jesus defined being a good neighbor in a global way.
But Jesus went even further in confronting destitution when he fed thousands in the countryside in Galilee (see Matthew 14:13-21). He fed them spiritually, and then extended this to supplying their practical needs for food. He didn't blame or condemn all these people because they had followed him out of town without thinking ahead. He didn't ignore the lack of food, saying one day without food was of no special consequence. Something wonderful happened that day, when Jesus showed the marvelous, practical abundance of God, who provided for everyone without their earning it. Jesus implied that they all deserved God's overflow of love and provision just because they were God's beloved children. (Note that there was more food left over than they started with; just a few loaves of bread and a few fish had been multiplied to feed all those people.) What's more, this criterion of care for mankind is possible and practical today. When you and I listen to God, He gives us innumerable ideas that provide abundantly for us. And if for us, then also for all the world's people. When we pray about the economy, it helps to identify specific economic threats, so we can halt their effects. The more focused one's prayer, the more specifically he or she understands what is true concerning God and His creation, and the more readily the human situation changes for the better.
One of the most important beliefs to challenge today in regard to the economy is the one many economists and citizens around the world subscribe to: that there must be poor people and jobless people in any economy. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, was a woman who understood God's ability to supply His children abundantly. Referring to divine Love, a name for God given in the Bible, Mrs. Eddy gave a definitive statement pertaining to economics in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good" (p. 494).
You can pray about economics with understanding, having learned from the Bible that God's provision is abundant. This helps lessen economic imbalances and the various reactions to them: despair, self-righteousness, envy, feelings of superiority, defeatism, contempt, and disgust.
It is important to realize that the prayers of each one of us make a difference here. Persistence in asking God for hope and direction must lead to more progressive and humane economics. We can open our hearts and insist that our prayers bear fruit for all.