When a disaster happens, such as those that have been unfolding in Texas and Louisiana, it’s natural to feel compassion for those affected, especially if we’re far away and not physically able to participate in the rescue. We watch closely the news reports hoping for a miracle. The government responds in various ways to evacuate and provide immediate help for those in need. Local and national volunteers respond without hesitation.
Many donate to relief charities in hopes that it will lessen the impact on individual lives and families. It is a wonderful way to express our love and assistance in a way that will strengthen the ability of organized groups to meet the needs of others. These dollars provide shelter, food, and other amenities so needed in times of trouble.
But, is there more that we can do? Yes! We can pray. Prayers of genuine love and compassion really do help. Trusting the welfare of others to a Supreme Being who loves us and is good to all, opens the door wide to infinite possibilities for everyone. These prayers pierce through the chaos and tap into the fabric of individual lives. They make possible the impossible.
The story of St. Paul is just one of many Bible stories that illustrate this fact.
At one point, Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eventually he was put on a boat, along with other prisoners, headed for Italy. During their journey, a wind of hurricane proportions threatened to kill everyone on board the ship. On the third day of the storm, Paul stood up and urged the men to keep their courage, and insisted, “not one of you will be lost.” He explained that an angel of the God whom he served stood beside him and told him not to be afraid. He had great trust in God.
Although their boat was destroyed, everyone ended up on the island of Malta, safe and in good hands. The islanders showed them great kindness, built them a fire, and welcomed them. Then, while sitting next to the fire, Paul was bit by a viper and, to the amazement of all, there were no harmful effects.
Mary Baker Eddy explains the effectiveness of prayer in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” this way: “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.” She also wrote, “Understanding the control which love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless.”
Praying is never in vain. God does answer our prayers. Maybe not in the way we expected, but always with an abundance of good. We can expect that our prayers to an infinite, all-loving, all-powerful God for those affected by the floods to take form in thought and deed with unlimited blessings for all.