Recently I received a mailing that asked for a contribution to support a highly regarded organization that helps millions of refugees and others around the world in great need. It was a good reminder that even in the midst of tragic circumstances, there’s often something positive happening. Many are right on the scene, working unselfishly, tirelessly, to care for others.
We may know people who are dealing directly with some conflict in a thoughtful, constructive way in order to resolve the situation – maybe in a business or political setting or even on an important church or school committee. Yet a casual observer might only be aware of the struggle that’s apparent on the surface.
Humanity can be deeply grateful for those on the scene who are helping so many. Yet there are also helpers behind the scenes. Among them are individuals who have come to realize that prayer represents much more than a well-meaning but abstract expression of support. Prayer, if inspired by at least some perception that God really is the only power, that He is omnipresent Love, and that He always cares for His children, has a beneficial effect.
It might be argued that you can never really be sure of that or prove it when it comes to circumstances in the global arena – or in the community, for that matter. Yet our inherent, God-given spiritual sense – our ability to discern the presence of God and His goodness – assures us that what the Bible teaches about the potency of prayer is true. Many people, including those who have witnessed the effect of prayer in their own lives, have seen in events in the news evidence that a divine influence was at work in the resolution of some harmful situation.
A merely surface view of things, and the conclusions that the human mind tends to draw based on that view, undermine trust in prayer. Yet Christ Jesus spoke of praying “to the Father which is in secret” (Matthew 6:6), and he gave the world the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13). He once told his followers: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). It seems reasonable to conclude that knowing in prayer what’s spiritually true, despite what the physical senses report, must have a positive effect when specifically applied to issues around the world as well as those affecting us personally.
Christian Science, discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, fully embraces Jesus’ words. It opens thought to the power of prayer that’s based on a spiritual understanding of God and man – on the timeless, Bible-based truth that God, Spirit, is supreme, and that man is His blessed, spiritual image, right now safe in Spirit, cared for in every detail, and not a victim of material conditions. Such truth-knowing isn’t wishful thinking; it’s a force for good. And it can play a vital role globally, including as a support to on-the-scene helpers.
Mrs. Eddy writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Truth destroys falsity and error, for light and darkness cannot dwell together” (p. 474). She also says: “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear” (Science and Health, p. 559).
Reports of widespread suffering aren’t evidence that God is less than all-powerful, omnipresent Love, despite how legitimate such a conclusion might appear. Rather, they show a vital need for a more widespread understanding that God’s presence and might are the actual authority where injustice seems to be in control. There’s no formula for prayer, but the silent, specific acknowledgment of what’s spiritually true in a particular situation can certainly benefit others, near or far. And the most important element of such prayer is the Christly spirit of love that inspires and permeates it.
We may never know the full extent of our prayer’s influence for good. It’s safe to say, however, that every realization of the truth that makes free is helping to counteract suffering and to bless those in need.