As a lifelong surfer and swimmer, I’ve spent years entering the ocean and “getting in with sharks,” so to speak. While I find it helpful and necessary to abide by the rules established by local governments, lifeguards, and all involved with ocean safety, I’ve also found prayer to be an essential element for my well-being.
The basis for prayer that brings safety comes from the Bible, in the first chapter of Genesis, where God is revealed as creator. It says that God created all living creatures and saw His entire creation as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). I’ve learned from that account of creation that what God, Spirit, creates must be spiritual and good. This higher perception of creation brings strength to my prayers and helps me quiet my fears and feel safe. Such prayer lifts my thought so I see more clearly what it means to be a child of God, governed by His omnipotent power and all-encompassing love. Sometimes when I need help, those prayers are answered by a Bible verse or statement from Christian Science Founder Mary Baker Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” which shifts my thought from fearful to reassured.
An example of this happened a few years ago, when I was standing on the shore at a well-known Maui surf spot. I was chatting with an experienced Hawaiian surfer when the subject of sharks came up. He told me it wouldn’t be a problem if I stayed with a group. After our conversation, I entered the water and paddled out. Just as I reached the other surfers, a large set of waves came through and everyone caught a wave but me. There I was, alone. That was not part of my plan.
My first thought went to that recent conversation about sharks, and I felt myself beginning to panic. But within a few moments I began to pray. A part of a Bible passage came to my thought: “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). That portion of Scripture was exactly what I needed. It reminded me God’s love was present, and that as His offspring, I could never be without it. I knew at that moment that His power was with me. That simple realization quieted my fear immediately, and I felt safe. I sat still, and it wasn’t long before I found myself surrounded by the other surfers in the area and had a great surfing session.
Recently, while praying about shark attacks reported in the news, I was reminded of many stories in the Bible in which we find God keeping people safe when interacting with animals. Daniel was kept safe in the lions’ den, for example, and the Apostle Paul showed no effects after a viper fastened itself on his hand. Science and Health explains those events this way: “Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless” (p. 514). God as Love does control His creation. Daniel and Paul knew it, and their lives proved it. Their trust in God’s love kept them unafraid and safe. Since there was no fear, I like to think that they were looking through the lens of spiritual reality, showing all of God’s creation to be very good. It didn’t matter how ferocious or deadly the beasts might have been, that spiritual view, relying on the truth of God’s love for all that He created, nullified the evil and kept Daniel and Paul from harm.
As children of God, we can all pray for that same understanding. Prayers that help us shift our view to a spiritual perspective reveal the operation of omnipotent, ever-present Love governing all. They quiet our fear and help us make wise choices when we’re thinking about going in the ocean. Then we can not only expect to feel safe, but we can be safe.