Monday, August 1, 2011

Safety in Prayer

This spring, the Missouri River on Iowa’s west boundary rose to flood levels and even now, more than a month later, the water is still so high that people in low areas remain evacuated to campsites and elsewhere.  Similar floods or high wind situations are all too common in Iowa.

In the face of news of such occurrences I have often felt helpless.  Should I travel to the region and help?  Should I send money?  What can I do?  At times in my feeling of helplessness, I have done nothing and turned my attention away.

Yet, I have found that there is something that I can do that lifts me out of a sense of helplessness and allows action that meets a need.

I pray.

Prayer may take me to sandbag or to open my dry house to those who have lost homes or to contribute in another way.  But, for me it does something much more.  It ties my understanding to a power beyond me or the pending circumstances and above the flooding water.  It says to me, “You don’t have to be subject to anything except God, divine Love.”

The thoughts in my prayer might go something like this. 

The only thing really going on is God, because God is the only real power.
God is all good.  It is impossible for a perfect, eternal, infinite God to be a source of destruction.  Destructive movement of water, air or ground is not the outcome of God. 
There is more to discern here. I can ask for the capacity to see the evidence of God.
My understanding that God is the one creator and is all powerful means that all that is real is within God’s control.  Real power is with God and not with the water or wind.

My prayer can embrace the statement in Jeremiah 23 that God fills heaven and earth.  No place is left for disaster.

If I look up, spiritward, I can at least find some comforting thoughts about the Iowa floods.  There was plenty warning that flooding may occur.  Preventive measures were taken.  People and their animal friends were moved out of harms way.  Help was present for those affected in the form of shelter and nourishment.  There was and still is actually a vibrant flurry of helpful activity that points to the Godlike quality of caring for our brothers and sisters.

Sure, I have seen firsthand the kind of destruction that can occur with abnormal weather, hurricanes, floods and tornados.  But, I do not attribute the destruction to God and I do not believe that these abnormal conditions are the end of the matter.

Any form of destruction must be the appearance of the absence of God, the result of fear that a power other than God, good, is in control.  Yet, if God is true and is all powerful, omnipotent, then my prayer can announce God to my consciousness.

You may ask what results such prayer has brought about.  First, it frees my thought about the situation to realize that God, or good, is present.  I am no longer responding in fear, but with a better sense of wisdom, knowing that as an individual human I can do little and that as a representative of God, my God-given dominion can make a positive difference in bringing the presence of God into the picture.  It can completely change the circumstance as illustrated by Christ Jesus as he stilled the storm in Matthew 8:24-27 and elseshere in the Bible.

Several years ago while I was at work about 30 miles from home, a number of funnel clouds were sighted in our area and a sudden pressure change across the area brought down trees, power lines and some buildings.  Before I left work, I took time to pray.  Electricity was out including to traffic lights.  Phone service was not available.  Roads including interstate highways were so blocked that policemen in two locations told me that I would not be able to get through to my home for hours and perhaps not until the next day.  Yet, I was able to calmly find a quite unusual route with helpful guidance along the way to find my home safe.  Two trees in our yard were down, but neither had touched the house, my family was safe and neighbors were already beginning to help clear the area.  Although much damage of trees and other houses resulted, no one in the area perished.

What was the effect of prayer?  Anxiety and fear vanished for me through prayer.  It also gave me the conviction that a safe route home was available.  It gave me strength to dive right in to the clean up.  I was very grateful to find family, neighbors and others safe.  I cannot say what else resulted from my prayer.  But I can say that I have been through two major floods in our city, tornadoes and hurricanes and have found not only safety, but improved circumstances following whatever damage had occurred.  I am grateful to God for being God.