Prayers for the planet

In the face of extreme weather events in Australia, in Indonesia, and elsewhere, hope and solutions can seem elusive. But a willingness to seek God’s guidance opens the door for divine inspiration that enables us to act wisely and safely.

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Here in Australia, we’ve been experiencing severe drought, heat, and bushfires. Many are worried that this confirms their fears of human-caused climate change. As the BBC put it recently, “The science around climate change is complex – it’s not the cause of bushfires but scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate would contribute to Australia’s fires becoming more frequent and more intense.”

So I’ve been doing something I’ve found helpful time and again in alarming or overwhelming situations: praying. I’m praying with the future safety not just of my country, but of this planet, in mind.

In doing so, I’m encouraged by a remarkable Bible example of an inspired response to climate crisis. Through a series of events, a young man named Joseph was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt (see Genesis 37-45). One night, the Pharaoh had a disturbing vision. He couldn’t understand what it meant, and neither could his advisors. Joseph, who had correctly interpreted two other men’s dreams a couple of years earlier, was asked if he could explain Pharaoh’s vision.

Turning to God as the source of all intelligence and right ideas, Joseph received the insight he needed to interpret what the king had seen. He told him that there would be seven years of abundance, followed by seven years of famine. Immediately, Joseph was given the job of implementing a plan to conserve the food produced in the good years. As a result of his wisdom and foresight, the people of Egypt survived the ensuing years of famine. Egypt was even able to feed those in neighboring countries who sought aid.

Where did the constructive foresight Joseph displayed come from? “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, asserts: “The ancient prophets gained their foresight from a spiritual, incorporeal standpoint, not by foreshadowing evil and mistaking fact for fiction, – predicting the future from a groundwork of corporeality and human belief” (p. 84).

Christian Science explains that God, Spirit, is Mind, the infinite intelligence that sustains God’s entire creation – including each of us, His spiritual offspring. When we tune in to this divine Mind through prayer, we receive direction. And as the spiritual image of divine Mind, we have the ability to pay attention and be receptive.

In this regard I’ve particularly appreciated a thought-provoking statement in Science and Health: “It is the prerogative of the ever-present, divine Mind, and of thought which is in rapport with this Mind, to know the past, the present, and the future.

“Acquaintance with the Science of being enables us to commune more largely with the divine Mind, to foresee and foretell events which concern the universal welfare, to be divinely inspired, – yea, to reach the range of fetterless Mind” (p. 84).

It is possible for us to discern, right now, actions to help keep our planet and its inhabitants safe. This is true for those of us in Australia and everyone around the world. There is an urgent need for solutions. God is always present to guide each and every one’s thoughts and actions for the benefit of all, and as we listen for that guidance, practical answers will come.

Another example of this is that of Moses, ancient Israel’s great national leader (see Exodus 17). Moses secured the release of his countrymen, who’d been laboring as slaves in Egypt, the same nation that had earlier benefited from Joseph’s spiritual insight and leadership. As the Israelites journeyed on foot through the wilderness, at one point they reached a place with no water.

Moses wondered what could possibly be done, in a desert environment, to address the urgent need. Turning to God for help, he was guided to strike the rock in Horeb with his staff, and water gushed out, saving the lives of the people relying on him.

Today, too, each of us can listen for divine wisdom, the inspired ideas that we need to act wisely and safely. Though I’m not a great leader like Moses, I’ve experienced this in modest ways in my own life, bringing a conviction that answers from God are always present to meet the needs of the day. We just need to listen for and act on them. Prayer affirming God’s good government of His creation – and willingness to heed the ideas that result from that prayer – opens the door for divine inspiration that protects and guides.

Adapted from an article published in the April 16, 2007, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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