AT a recent meeting, the chief of police told me he was late because he had been up most of the night. There had been another drive-by shooting. Two teenagers were killed. I had known of the high crime rate for some time. I couldn't help asking myself, Have I done anything about it? Do I care about my community? What can I do?
There are, of course, many things I can get involved in. I can work with neighborhood groups to make the streets safer. I can cooperate with the police. But the most effective recourse I have immediately is prayer. This prayer has to be more than a mere petition that God intervene. It has to be based on a growing understanding of God, of His ever-presence. Such prayer is a systematic, disciplined affirmation of God's law, a law that's always in operation. In the first chapter of Science and Health with K ey to the Scriptures, titled "Prayer, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, "Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind. Because prayer is of divine origin, the thoughts we use in prayer are God- empowered.
A number of years ago I saw how very practical prayer can be. A large city was victimized by an unscrupulous organization trying to take over the city by organizing the police force, the fire department, the sanitation workers, and other city employees. They proposed a strike that they hoped would paralyze the city during a popular annual celebration.
For many years, a citizen in that city had been very active in its affairs. As a Christian Scientist he approached everything with prayer. And this situation was no exception. He earnestly prayed to be shown how best to help his city. What followed could conceivably be viewed as just orderly, common-sense steps. The starting point in this case was prayer based on the understanding that God was intelligently governing all.