Last week, the US city of Detroit, Michigan, finding itself $18.5 billion in debt and unable to negotiate with creditors, filed for bankruptcy protection. The city is the largest in US history to do so, and it must now find ways to spend far less money without practically eliminating crucial social services. Michigan governor Rick Snyder and bankruptcy specialist Kevyn Orr, who will oversee the process, believe they can steer Detroit out of bankruptcy in a little more than a year, but knotty financial issues — such as what to do about unfunded public pensions — will have to be worked out first.
It’s important for Detroit to find a path to a firm financial footing; but for those of us not in a position to pore over balance sheets or influence policy, is there something we can do to help? There is. Our prayers for the economy can help everyone to gain a better understanding of God’s government, which in turn leads to solutions to economic problems.
“Detroit, bankruptcy, and hope for the future,” written by a Christian Science practitioner living near Detroit, offers a good place to start. The author points out that the power behind any period of transformation is God, who “knows our needs before we ask and provides an environment in which we all can thrive.” When we recognize this spiritual fact, it quiets fear and allows fresh ideas and previously unseen sources of supply to come to light.
“I shall not want” offers a good place to start. In it, one author shares how his “investments” in Life, Truth, Love, Principle, Mind, Spirit, and Soul — seven synonyms for God — constitute a real source of security, dispelling fear and worry and guiding him (and all of us) to make sound financial decisions. This spiritual direction is as available to cities as it is to individuals!
“Prayer for prosperous cities,” written by a Detroit native and social researcher, extends this line of reasoning. The author points out that Detroit, and other cities facing high unemployment and other financial woes, can benefit from a closer relationship to God, who is “a very present help in trouble” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 12-13). This promise promotes fresh thinking and new ideas, erases political rivalries, replaces hopelessness with an expectancy of good, and supports ideas that set cities on a sustainable financial path.
As we embrace all corners of Detroit in our prayers, it’s legitimate for us to expect to see results in the city. As jarring as a scene of financial hopelessness may be, it doesn’t tell the real story about God’s creation — and as we perceive more clearly that God cares for individuals and communities alike, we’ll see clear solutions emerge.