A lot of people who pray regularly have had actual proof that prayer is effective. When it comes to personal problems, including illness, prayer has been found to uplift and transform the thought, attuning it to God and showing more that His control of creation is factual.
But when you find out about someone else's problems, what then? When it comes to the problems of children, specifically - school and gang violence, drug abuse, child labor, and other assaults on the young - do you ever think of praying?
The prayer of Christ Jesus addressed to "Our Father" - the Father of everyone, everywhere - proclaims: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).
The founder of The Christian Science Monitor devoted the first chapter of her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" to the subject of prayer. And at the end of that chapter, Mary Baker Eddy gave some inspiring commentary on each line in the Lord's Prayer.
For instance, following the line "Thy kingdom come," she wrote, "Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present." And after the line "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," "Enable us to know, - as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme" (pgs. 16-17).
Remembering the ever-presence, the omnipotence, and the supremacy of God is a solid starting point in the prayers we make for God's children. And all children are God's. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:16).
Would our good God, a God who is Love (see I John 4:8), create a superfluous child? Love some children more than others? Abandon some of them? Doesn't it make sense, rather, that "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals" (Science and Health, pg. 13)?
So many children do appear to live without love. But the Lord's Prayer says that right there, God is still present with those children - present to help and heal. God is not only a Father who defends, but also a Mother who comforts. Further, this prayer can make plain that every adult who comes in contact with children is himself, herself, a child of God - an expression of Love, of all the good qualities of our Father and Mother.
We can bring a power beyond the human into view, as we pray that every child may feel caught up in God's love. This love does not depend on any child's having been born into the right human circumstances. It nurtures always, in all conditions.
As a result of our prayers, we may be led to take some action on behalf of certain children. Or maybe we'll just continue to regularly pray on behalf of all children by seeking to understand God's presence and love better. Part of this prayer is to be grateful to God every time there's evidence that conditions have improved for any child, whether in our own neighborhood or across the globe.
On one occasion shortly after I started a new job, my boss's wife gave birth to a son. He was diagnosed with a severe heart deformity. His parents were told that, should he survive to the age of 3, he would need surgery.
Every time I heard his father discuss this problem, I prayed. I refused to believe that God would or could afflict one of His little children. When the baby reached the age of 3, his condition was found to be "within the normal range," and no operation was necessary.
It had never been my intention to pray for that child without his parents' request. But for myself, I would not believe what I considered to be a lie about him. I knew that God creates all children in His good likeness - spiritual, not material. And I believe this view of that child was helpful to the situation.
No one needs to accept misery as a condition for any child. Love, self-worth, home, happiness, security, health - God has given all these to each of His sons and daughters.
So you can help. You can see all children as God sees them.
You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist at www.tfccs.com
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society