Prayer to feed the hungry

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

For three days this week, a UN sponsored meeting in Rome examined the world food crisis and what to do about it. Wars and the disruption of local economies by destructive storms, such as the cyclone that hit Burma (Myanmar), drought, and so on – along with the higher fuel prices – play a major role in the shortages.

Although millions of dollars in food aid is being sent to countries in need, experts say it will not be enough. Even if it helps to ease the short-term crisis, what's needed is a longer-term vision.

Such a vision needs to look beyond the outward causes of the shortage to the deeper nature of man – meaning both men and women – and each individual's spiritual value. When we're able to do this, even a little, it will become evident that a world that values its people enough to unite against hunger for anyone will have sufficient food for everyone.

This becomes clearer if you look up the accounts of what Jesus did when he was feeding thousands of people with very few resources. Among the points that stand out are: He never doubted that the supplies at hand would be sufficient because he trusted God – his Father and ours. He wasn't intimidated by the huge numbers of people. Nor did he practice triage and focus on only one especially worthy or needy group.

Jesus' conviction that God would take care of everyone is a level of confidence each of us can strive for in our prayers. Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptations and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters' " (p. 13).

Our love for our families and for humanity has its real source in God, who is divine Love. Divine Love pours forth good in a never-ending stream, but very often our fears, doubts, and prejudices prevent us from seeing it. These same characteristics can affect people's attitudes toward helping those in other countries. But our prayers can help lift off that mistaken view of our fellow men and women and enable us to see them as spiritual and perfect, the children of God. Each of us is precious in God's sight, created for a purpose, designed to be a blessing to our people, our nations, the world.

How do we unlock that blessing? First, through prayer, we can refuse to see anyone or any nation as hopeless or separate from God's goodness. Divine Love is infinite, and this means there is no place where its power is absent. Love has the power to uplift leaders and other officials to a higher understanding of government and a more active appreciation of the citizens. It strengthens individuals to help one another and to work together for the common good. Next, when we pray for our own governments, we can specifically affirm that God can guide their decisions wisely and intelligently – and can keep them from acting selfishly. Each nation can be motivated by Love to help one another while also looking after its own citizens.

Last, we can take time each day to give thanks to God for His goodness and love for His people – all people. Speaking of those in need, a psalm declares: "He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness" (107:9). This affirmation of God's care opens our eyes to evidence of progress, such as a new plan to distribute cash to people so that they can buy food in their communities, as the Monitor reported earlier this week ("UN aid debate: give cash, not food?" June 3).

Sometimes such prayer will reveal things we can do individually through our desire to help others. But as Jesus proved, prayer itself opens our hearts wider, enables us to lead more loving and purer lives, and to lift up those in need to God's tender, loving care. This prayer, resting firmly on divine Love, will always unite and heal.

He shall feed his flock
like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs
with his arm, and carry them
in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah 40:11

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