Do you know Harry Potter? He's the star in a series of books that are really popular. The books are definitely make-believe. They're filled with wizards and magic and all kinds of strange creatures. The author, J.K. Rowling, has a great imagination! But besides telling exciting stories, her books show that good beats out evil.
My friends like these books because they're good stories. I like the stories, too. But I also like to think of some of the things that happen as lessons for our lives. Sometimes they are like the parables that people read in the Bible - lessons that are very helpful in today's world.
If you're familiar with Harry, you remember that he learns a lot of important lessons. Several times he has to learn that if you lose your temper, things only get worse. He learns how important it is to stand by his friends - and that they can sure help him, too. He also finds out how important it is to not be afraid.
I just finished reading "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." And I've been thinking about one of his experiences. (If you haven't read the book, don't worry, I'm not going to give away the plot!)
One of the creatures in the story robs people of all their hope and leaves them with a terrible feeling of emptiness and despair. One of Harry's teachers explains that he can counter their effect by remembering the happiest moment he can think of in his life. If he does this successfully, his teacher explains, it will force these creatures to retreat.
Sometimes things at home or at school make you afraid or unhappy. And if you think about these things all the time, you can end up feeling even more afraid and unhappy. That is the way our problems work on us. They tempt us to think about them all the time. And they get us to think about what it would be like if they got worse.
That is one of the reasons praying is so important. Praying helps us to remember that God is in charge of our life. (God is good.)
Read the Bible, and you learn about all the different people who turned to God when they had problems, and how they were saved from all kinds of trouble. That is why the book of Proverbs has these verses: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (3:5, 6).
Every moment of your day can be controlled by God. Jesus showed many, many times that when we know that God is present and in control, the things that make us afraid or unhappy disappear. When you can remember God, you can't not remember that His goodness and power are everywhere. His goodness fills all space. It fills your day.
I don't know if Harry Potter knows how to pray. I've never seen it mentioned in the books. (In a way, I guess you could say that Harry's teacher was telling him to pray by saying he should think of the happiest moment in his life.) If you had some of Harry's problems, you could pray a lot. And your prayers would be a big help to you.
When Harry was in trouble, he had to remember something that made him happy. Prayer often goes a lot deeper than just remembering something that makes us happy. But it always puts us on line with God. I noticed that Harry did have to have complete concentration. He couldn't think happy thoughts and fearful thoughts at the same time. And it's that way with prayer as well.
"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, is one more book I've been reading recently. It explains what we've been talking about this way: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought" (pg. 495).
We can pray. We can close our ears to fearful and unhappy thoughts, and remember what we know about God. That He is always with us, and always in control. If we concentrate on that, we will feel and see the power of good working in our lives. Our troubles will begin to disappear.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society