The theme of tomorrow's 112th annual World Day of Prayer is "God's Tender Touch." Women from Venezuela wrote this year's service, which is being celebrated globally this week.
Venezuela is a land blessed with many natural resources. Yet 85 percent of its population lives in poverty. This is especially tough on children. The great disparity between the rich and the poor is commonly attributed to greed and ignorance. And poor economic conditions often breed violence.
But no nation is beyond God's help. The WDP motto is "informed prayer and prayerful action." Clearly, prayer is viewed not as some type of poetic window dressing, but as a powerful means to heal urgent problems that people in all countries face today. The healing power of God's touch is illustrated in this year's WDP service through several scriptural selections, including the prophet Hosea's descriptions of God's motherly kindness (see Hosea 11:1-4).
Considering God's feminine nature opens more expansive views of Deity. The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, noted over 100 years ago that "... we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 517). This idea comes up in the WDP service as well.
We can all feel the healing power of divine Love. And often, the more urgent the situation, the more willing we are to trust God
I have experienced His/Her gentle touch so many times in my life. Once I was faced with homelessness. Even though I was employed as a teaching assistant at a university, there was just too big of a gap between my salary and the rent for even a modest apartment. I still had a year's worth of educational commitments. For weeks I had vainly searched for some place I could afford. The people I'd been sharing with had graduated and moved away.
The whole situation seemed so unfair. But I realized that any feelings of resentment would only further distance me from feeling God's tender love.
The night after our apartment lease had expired, I was on my way to my campus office - the only place I had left to go. I met a friend. On learning of my situation, he insisted that I spend the night with some mutual acquaintances. I hesitated. I really didn't know these people very well, and didn't want to impose. But when I called them up, I was met with great compassion. And their sofa became my temporary home.
A couple of weeks later, these new friends and I were sitting around, still complaining about the high rents in the town. But suddenly I realized that our conversation wasn't on the right track. I had come to learn that every thought I entertained had an ethical consequence. What I really needed to understand was that my life was actually governed by the omnipotent love of God, not by any feelings of depravity.
In order to pray about homelessness, I realized, I had to understand my Father-Mother God's plan for me more clearly. At that moment, I recognized that God, divine Love, already had a place prepared for me - and that I could be receptive to this provision.
Within hours, I found an apartment that was both affordable and suitable. It had been advertised in the newspaper as a place for a "mature" woman. But the landlord decided to rent it to me after we had discussed the spiritual attributes that maturity includes, like accountability, thoughtfulness, trustworthiness, unselfishness - none of which are age-dependent.
Fundamentally, the same type of spiritual perception that brought needed solutions to my urgent problem can also help a nation begin to pull itself from poverty. The power of divine Love, so tenderly expressed in the fatherhood and motherhood of God, is a practical, spiritual resource. So it has to be available to all. Ultimately, we find, God alone is the true governing power. He reigns justly. As this sinks in, we gradually prove that life isn't a series of problems. It's as we each commit our life to more fully expressing God's qualities that we'll feel "God's tender touch" healing and regenerating humanity.