Prayer—an effective action

When the need for healing is urgent, even thousands of miles away, our prayers can be a powerful help.

At one time, while working in a campus chapter of Amnesty International, I was overwhelmed by reports of the confinement and torture of innocent people. I received a weekly "Urgent Action Update," which reported the status of prisoners of conscience around the world. (Prisoners of conscience are people who have not used any form of violence but are imprisoned solely for their beliefs or ethnic origin.) I responded with letter writing, organizing, and campaigning. Although I was used to praying about difficulties in my own life, it had not occurred to me that I could also pray about this challenge and that it would be a powerful, effective action.

The Bible offers clear examples of prisoners of conscience who were freed as a direct result of prayer. In the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, three innocent men were protected from death through their absolute trust in God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to the king's golden image. They had disobeyed a royal edict. But to worship a golden image, a false god, would have violated their allegiance to the one God. We might say their enlightened sense of Deity and total reliance on Him—in other words, their prayer—was their urgent action. They came out of the furnace without even a hair singed. The same divine Principle that guided them to reject the golden image acted as a law of protection.

In the New Testament, in the book of Acts, we read that Paul and Silas were imprisoned on the pretense that they taught "customs ... not lawful" for Romans to follow. After being beaten and thrown into the prison, they continued to trust in the higher law of God. Responding to the same divine Principle as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they showed no fear. Instead they rejoiced, praying and singing praises to God so that the other prisoners heard them. The results of their prayers were literally earthshaking: "Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed."

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Feeding the world's hunger
August 19, 1991

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