A Christian Science perspective: While prayer can often prompt additional human action, it is a powerful action in itself.

You see or hear the words frequently after a disaster. Someone speaking to a camera or posting online. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of this tragedy.” Sometimes it may just be an attempt to say something, say anything, at a time when there are no adequate words to say. But more often it truly does represent a deep yearning, shared broadly by humanity, for people to feel comforted, for good to be powerful, for evil to not have the last word. They also acknowledge a level of need so great that only a power beyond mere human thoughts and energies will be able to meet it.

The fact is, those prayer-filled desires do make a difference. They change us. They make us more caring, more determined to serve good, more committed to loving others. And the evidence indicates that they can in fact make a huge difference for others as well.

The Bible is filled with healings through prayer. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, was deeply inspired by such healings. In searching the Scriptures for insight on God’s healing power, she perceived that Christ Jesus’ healings point to divine laws, which can be applied by his followers, even as he promised, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also” (John 14:12). This enabled her to heal many people, and found the Christian Science church on the basis of Christian healing.

For more than a century, Christian Scientists have demonstrated the power of prayer to heal all sorts of human challenges, from disease and other physical ailments to financial woes, grief, and relationship difficulties. Tens of thousands of these healings have been verified and published in the Monitor’s sister publications, The Christian Science Journal, Sentinel, and Herald.

While prayer can often prompt additional human action, whether by an individual, a community, or a government, it is a powerful action in itself. One individual’s prayer, inspired and governed by God, can have a tremendous effect. “You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this,” writes Mrs. Eddy. “Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle” (“Pulpit and Press,” p. 4).

Such prayer can do much toward alleviating a sense of helplessness, and enabling our thoughts as well as our actions to bless all of humanity.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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