The Christian Science Monitor®

Not another step without the Psalms

The Christian Science Monitor

Released from a labor camp after serving a thirteen-year sentence, Soviet dissident Anatoly Shcharansky flung himself into the snow and refused to continue when his escorts tried to confiscate a book of the psalms from the Bible. In an interview he recounted, "I said I would not leave the country without the Psalms, which helped me so much. I lay down in the snow and said, 'Not another step.' " And he also commented, "Without religion I could not have withstood all that I suffered." The New York Times, February 13, 1986 .

In times of trouble many people are willing to pray and seek help from God. Whether or not they are students of the Bible, they may be aware of Biblical characters who prayed—Jacob and Daniel in the Old Testament, for instance, and Peter and, of course, Christ Jesus, the best example, in the New Testament. In fact the Bible is itself a record and result of prayer and of man's desire to seek God's presence.

Still, many wonder how it's possible to know for sure that prayer or reading the Bible does any good. It would, of course, be hard to prove that prayer, the psalms, or the power of religion is what sustained Shcharansky or indeed sustains anyone in any circumstance. Most of us know of people who seldom show any interest in prayer or God and seem to get by. But when the chips are down they may ask a brother, cousin, or friend, "Would you pray for me?" Then if things get better, prayer may be given a little credit. Or maybe not.

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