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Prayers for wildfires

From the August 22, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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In a recent conversation with President Barack Obama, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer discussed the need for prayer for her constituents as they battled thousands of acres of wildfires in the American Southwest. Earlier, in a proclamation in April, Texas Governor Rick Perry requested that Texans pray for wildfires to be brought under control. He noted that “throughout our history both as a state and individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured, and lifted up through prayer; it seems only fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires.” 

Prayer cuts across political and social boundaries. However, some skeptics mocked these comments, saying that the governors’ requests for prayer would be no more effective than all of us getting together to do a rain dance.

Our collective prayers can bring us to a point of spiritual understanding that nothing, absolutely nothing, is out of God’s, Spirit’s, control.

It is natural to turn to collective prayer, to a Supreme Being, when issues seem to be bigger than we are and out of our control. Spiritually minded people have gathered in prayer for centuries. First Chronicles tells of a group of Israelites who petitioned God before they confronted challenges. We read that “they cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated of them; because they put their trust in him” (5:20).

Affliction of any kind, including weather, can be faced down together when we put prayer into action. Mentally standing arm in arm, we gain confidence in an all-embracing, engaged, living God. As we acknowledge God’s power, this helps us displace thoughts of fear, hopelessness, and the gut-wrenching feeling that we are facing a challenge alone. As a resident of Texas, I’ve been praying often about destructive wildfires, and have seen how prayer can and does reveal solutions to this issue.

While fire, in and of itself, can be a benefit to the environment, when it is uncontrolled and raging it is a threat to communities and wildlife. This can be a specific starting place for our prayers. The Bible asserts that all control, all power, “belongeth unto God” (Ps. 62:11). God, divine Love, is the only power. He is omnipotent. He is almighty. He fills all space and governs all action, and is the only cause and condition of being. Since God, good, is expressing Himself, there is no material set of circumstances—such as intense heat or drought conditions—that can make a destructive fire inevitable. Our collective prayers can bring us to a point of spiritual understanding that nothing, absolutely nothing, is out of God’s, Spirit’s, control. And as we vehemently insist on these scientific facts about God and yield to them, remarkable healing takes place. Tangible results of our prayers will naturally follow.

We can, with a collective voice, assert that right where unchecked fire seems to be spreading, God, Spirit, is filling all space. His power and laws have supremacy over frightening material conditions. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “There is no power apart from God. Omnipotence has all-power, and to acknowledge any other power is to dishonor God” (p. 228).

We can be confident that our prayers bring results. The mental weight of our spiritual affirmations tips the scale of consciousness to the side of God, and we see His truth operating in our experience. Recognition of Spirit’s omnipresence can cause us to become aware of previously unseen resources for bringing wildfires under control, and bring new wisdom, courage, and strength to the firefighters and other works. As we pray, we may witness creative new techniques for fighting the fires, or perhaps more people will become available to help. Previously unseen financial funding may become apparent, innovation in prevention methods may be discovered, or weather conditions may change. We don’t have to outline the solutions, but we can insist that our prayers do bring solutions and protection for all.

Let us also include in our prayers a needed sense of restoration and reformation to those who have lost their homes. God’s love can so embrace them that there will be no room for lingering scars or heartbreak. Love’s overwhelming power is able to heal, to restore, to give them a conscious awareness of the infinite resources and indestructible goodness in their lives.

What comfort and reassurance we feel when others are praying for and with us. Such prayer brings the stillness and calm of divine Love and puts to silence the inner tumult we may be feeling. With steady, persistent, prayerful resolve, our combined prayers will enable us to see almighty Truth’s ability to quickly and effectively tame the wildfires.

Jan Keeler is a Christian Science practitioner. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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