I'm grateful to know of aid programs that provide food for families in need, both near and abroad, but not everyone has access to these programs.
Even in the United States, about half of the students in public schools qualify for a federal program that provides free or reduced priced lunches. Over the summer though, families who benefit from this assistance during the school year sometimes struggle to provide adequate meals for their children. How can we respond to this worldwide problem?
As a Christian Scientist, I believe in the practicality of prayer to address any challenge. With world issues that can seem overwhelming, I find it helpful to begin praying in a simple, straightforward way. My efforts to pray constructively about all children being properly nourished have returned me to the Lord’s Prayer.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Monitor, referred to the Lord’s Prayer as “... that prayer which covers all human needs” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 16). At the end of a chapter on prayer, Mrs. Eddy gives a spiritual interpretation of this well-known prayer that Jesus imparted to his followers. For the line “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), the interpretation says “Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;” (Science and Health, p. 17). What an inspiring way to consider this prayerful request for spiritual nourishment.
But how can grace actually feed hungry children? Many people think of grace as evidence of God’s love. Mrs. Eddy once described it as “the effect of God understood” (“Christian Science versus Pantheism,” p. 10). It’s the understanding of God that brings healing to our lives and supports efforts to meet humanity’s needs.
One of the deepest prayers we can offer is a humble, sincere desire to know God. As I’ve sought to gain a clearer sense of God through the teachings of Christian Science, I have expanded my view to see God as infinite Spirit – as omnipotent, omnipresent, and entirely good – rather than a distant being who responds to human requests at a whim. The man who best expressed the nature of this all-loving God is Christ Jesus, who – through prayer – fed over 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish (see Matthew 15).
This same Christly power that fed the multitudes is still active today, revealing answers to our earnest questions. In consecrated prayer, it becomes clear that if God is Spirit, then all of what God creates is spiritual, and forever expresses the fullness of God’s goodness. Understanding more of God and our own true spiritual nature meets our needs as individuals and in society as a whole. This inspired understanding of God is grace in its truest sense.
I knew a single mother who went through a period of poverty, where she did not always have sufficient food to feed her children every night. But they would still gather around the table and give thanks every evening, even if they actually had no meal to eat. This was the family’s way of expressing a growing understanding of God’s goodness manifested in their lives – a recognition of the presence of grace despite the lack of food on the table.
That act of humble gratitude, along with their growth in understanding God, led to practical answers. The family’s needs were met in various unexpected ways – from someone spontaneously offering to buy them groceries to the mother finding work that provided steady income, allowing her to be available for her children. Persisting with their growing sense of grace enabled them to overcome the challenge of hunger and poverty.
As we seek to understand God and man spiritually, we see fuller evidence of God’s goodness in daily experience. We can each affirm, with conviction, God’s presence with us here, giving us grace for today, revealing the true nature of all of God’s children, who are abundantly nourished.