A psalm for the economy

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

This newspaper recently outlined the tough job President Bush's Federal Reserve chairman nominee Ben Bernanke has in convincing not only US lawmakers, but movers and shakers in the global economic scene that he will be able to guide the world's largest - yet dangerously fragile - economy through the rough times ahead (see The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 25).

The reports of an economy suffering from a serious trade imbalance, serious budgetary imbalance, and, on the home front, serious overborrowing and undersaving are grave indeed. Confronted with the prospect of economic problems on a global scale, I turned to God, asking for an idea on how to pray about so immense a problem.

I found an answer, a sort of checklist for prayer, in the first three verses of Psalm 1. They read: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

I was interested that two thirds of the passage advises where to start - not from "the seat of the scornful," or from a position of skepticism and doubt, but from the standpoint of the "law of the Lord." This law works as part of God's government, so it's important to acknowledge first of all that God is the All-power, that nothing is beyond His control.

The psalm then points to the benefits of such a starting point for prayer, using the simile of a tree planted by water - not a bad symbol for an economy, I think. We are promised that the fruit will come "in his season," that we can expect growth in an orderly fashion that assures goods and services in such a way that no one will suffer. The leaf will not wither, whether due to inflation or any investor fears. The result is promised to be a win-win solution for all, a prosperity that leaves no one behind.

To me, the path of prayer indicated by this psalm is valid. I felt I needed help, however, in keeping my thinking on that path. For example, there is an interstate highway a mile from my house that would take me straight into Washington, D.C., but I need a vehicle in order to use that highway.

In terms of prayer for the world, I need a constant reminder to stay on the path. That which impels my thinking surely is the touch of the Christ. It keeps me going directly ahead, not wasting my time in speculation about economic trends, jitters among global investors, or oil prices as a result of weather or political uncertainties.

This ever-active Christ is the guide. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, explained the Christ in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" this way: "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (p. 332).

This speaking to the human consciousness regenerates and heals. We hear it as prayer uplifts our thinking from the mundane, the speculative, the fearful, or the doubtful. The Christ, the true idea of the inseparability of God and His creation and consequent divinely established perfection of His creation, gives us hope, even when we face a global problem. The Christ keeps our thinking in line with the first verses of Psalm 1, living in the law of the Lord.

The psalm doesn't tell me how to economize or invest or what interest rates should be. Instead, it tells me that my job as an individual citizen is to keep my thought centered on the supremacy of God's government. As we do this, it seems to me, a broad nonpartisan consensus will emerge, and correct decisions for managing the economy will become more apparent. This is the Christ touching the global economy and bringing it into balance and healing.

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