RECENTLY my local newspaper ran an article about a tornado that hit our town over twenty-five years ago. The article spelled out the usual story of destruction, with graphic pictures and related accounts of individuals who remembered what happened. While this type of story isn't unusual where I live, I have to admit the title of the article caught my eye. It read: ''All They Could Do Was Pray.''
I took notice of the title because it articulated for me the thoughts of many-that prayer is a last source of help. It emphasized the thought that when there's nothing else we can do, then we should pray. The title made me think about the actual need to put prayer ahead of everything else we do.
To pray is to acknowledge God's presence and power. When someone has a problem, and prays first, God leads him or her to do what's right, what's safe, and what's beneficial. Putting God first changes human experience for the better; proof of God's presence and power appears. I know this because it's happened many times in my own life and in the lives of my family.
Not long ago our daughter fell on the concrete and hit her head extremely hard. We went into our house, and I made her as comfortable as possible. And I began talking with her about God. She's been learning that God is Love and that He is ever present, so it was very natural for me to remind her of these things, and they meant something to her.
I prayed for our daughter's comfort, her peace, and her harmony. Soon she was feeling fine. But I realized I was still frightened; although the physical evidence of a head injury was gone, I was afraid she might have a concussion.
It was hard for me to pray at that point. But throughout the night I tried to put God first, not fear first. I did this by turning from thoughts of fear to humbly acknowledging the total goodness of God. Then I began to feel His presence encompassing our daughter, myself, and everyone. Feeling surrounded in God's presence destroyed my fear. I was at peace, and our daughter never showed any sign of concussion.
Why is it that we sometimes think of turning to God second, or third, or last? Why is it that we may hesitate to turn to Him immediately, wholeheartedly, and trustingly, instead of trying to fix things up without His help? Maybe it's because we don't understand God's love for us all, who are His children, made in His image and likeness.
Christian Science teaches that God is Love. This means that God is Love alone. Divine Love is without a single element of evil, anger, frustration, or carelessness. It's true that if someone believes that God is both good and bad, he or she may be hesitant to turn to God first in trying to solve problems. But understanding God's love for His children helps anyone to turn to Him first in time of need. Spiritually understanding that God is wholly good, we will expect only good when we turn to Him.
Expecting good from God isn't a new concept. The Bible teaches about many people who believed in God's sole goodness. Jesus Christ and his disciples understood God's omnipotence. The great Apostle Paul said in First Thessalonians, ''Pray without ceasing'' (5:17). These men understood His unconquerable goodness. Because of this, they trusted God with their difficulties and turned to Him first. As a result, they found that they didn't need to turn elsewhere, because God met their needs and enabled them to heal others.
If you are doubting God's adequacy to help you, consider a few sentences from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science: ''Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds. . . . Asking God to be God is a vain repetition. God is 'the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;' and He who is immutably right will do right without being reminded of His province'' (pp. 1-3).
You and I can prove that God is unvaryingly good and immutably right. You can pray for a deeper understanding of God's power. Then the more you learn to understand Him and turn to Him, the more you'll come to rely fully upon Him to direct you. He won't be the last resort, but the first.