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The promise of Flight 1549

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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The man in the feed store said, "Yeah, they had a great pilot, but I believe God's hand was what guided the plane so they were all saved." He was referring to last week's "miracle on the Hudson," when 150 passengers and the crew of US Airways flight 1549 survived a crash landing on the Hudson River in New York City.

In the moments right after the crash, several posts on The New York Times website called for prayer, and early reports spoke of people on board praying. In an interview with the Boston Herald, one man on board declared, "I was praying ..." (Jan. 17).

Openly referring to prayer isn't always seen as popular, yet this man and others who spoke about their thoughts – along with the people who posted calls for prayer on websites – clearly felt this was the most important thing to do at that moment. And their trust was not in vain.

Complex as that situation was, the desire was fairly straightforward: save lives. What if we could use this powerful experience as a lens through which we can view other problems around the world: the economic crisis, the AIDS pandemic in Africa, continuing instability in the Middle East, to mention a few. Suppose we could leave personal opinions aside and turn to God with as much fervor about those things, and diligently refuse to accept any other outcome than healing?

The book of James in the Bible includes this promise: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (5:16). During the plane's flight and the rescue efforts afterward, much happened that could be considered the result of prayer, that prayer did indeed "avail much" – the pilot's skillful and steady water landing, the relative calm after the crash and the way passengers left the aircraft, the fact that the pilot and others could check to make sure everyone was off, the speed and intelligence of the rescue personnel.

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