What can prayer do to feed the hungry?

Older Americans receiving meals •© GLOW IMAGES •models are used for illustrative purposes

Older Americans receiving meals
• © GLOW IMAGES
• models are used for illustrative purposes

Feeding the hungry seems like a daunting task.  “Nearly one billion people are chronically hungry and undernourished” worldwide.  In the United States 49 million Americans are struggling to put food on the table.

AARP has become a voice for the nearly 9 million older Americans who are especially vulnerable and struggling to put food on the table.  It is projected that by 2030 72.1 million older adults will be among the hungry. “Hunger and its serious health consequences (diabetes, depression and malnutrition) are one of the most formidable public health challenges facing the United States today.”

Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) serves over one million meals to seniors each day and are committed to ending senior hunger by 2020.  Right now there are over two million volunteers across the United States. MOWAA is hoping to recruit up to 6 million by 2020. 

“September is Hunger Action Month, when the Feeding America network of food banks unites to urge individuals to take action in their communities.”  Many suggestions are made for the public to help – donate non-perishable items to your local food banks and volunteer to help there.  One was especially interesting – try to eat on just $4.50/day which is the benefit provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) to get a sense of challenges these families and individuals face.

Hunger Action Month is just one month out of the year, and despite all efforts to feed the hungry, it will not be enough to solve the hunger problem.   “While food assistance to the hungry people is vital, it is not enough,” states the website, Bread for the World: Have Faith, End hunger.

Feeding America serves nearly 3 million elderly persons.  “Thirty percent of their clients have had to choose between food and medical care and thirty-five percent had to choose between food and paying for utilities.”

Faith groups are coming together to support the activities of Hunger Action Month The Society of St. Andrew  published a “Prayer Calendar” on their website.  Each day is headed by a suggested Bible verse for congregations and individual parishioners to use as a foundation for their prayers for that day.

There are those among older Americans who are unable to get out, to volunteer or to donate money.  Maybe they feel they have nothing to give.  Even these people are able to give something – using the prayer calendar, everyone can feel a part of the campaign to feed the hungry.

“Giving does not impoverish us in the service to our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us,”  says Mary Baker Eddy, religious leader and author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. We all have something to give in order to help others.

Prayer can be a strong and valuable ally for the hungry.  It lightens the heart and brings hope. It can even bring unexpected solutions.

One of the most well-known verses of the Bible is found in Matthew: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled.”  The Message translates it this way: “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” The Message, Matt. 5:6

Jesus proved the power of prayer by first expressing gratitude for all to hear that God always heard his prayer and knew He would hear his prayer of infinite supply and then he proceeded to feed over 5000 people with just a few loaves of bread and two fishes.  After everyone had eaten there were 12 baskets filled with left over bread and fish.  (Matthew 14:14-21)

At one point, I was going through a particularly tough time wondering if I would have enough money to buy food and the bare necessities.  I tried making a budget.  No matter how I moved the money around, it simply did not work out on paper.  I finally stopped trying to make the dollars stretch.  The above example of Jesus feeding the 5000 without money came to my thought and I began praying on a daily basis – expressing gratitude for what we had rather than worrying or complaining about what we did not have.

I remembered a hymn by Vivian Burnett:  “Our gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty.  Our trials bloom in blessing, they test our constancy.  … True gladness is the treasure that grateful hearts will hold.” (1)

During this same time, while in church, I heard the announcement that the next Sunday was to be “Gratitude Sunday,” which meant a portion of the offerings would be sent to  our Boston headquarters to help cover some of the activities in which they were involved.  I wanted so much to be able to give more than the small amount I was giving at that time.  The thought of giving $20.00 boldly came to me.

As the week progressed, including my daily prayers, I did have an extra $20.00 at the end of the week.  Having that much at the end of the week had been unheard of for many months.  I was even tempted to keep it because I could have used it for many other things.  But I knew my prayers were being answered and I put the money in the offering plate.

That week was the last time I ever felt deprived.  From that time on, I had enough to meet all our needs.  Nothing changed financially immediately.  The only thing that changed was my thought – it changed from wanting to giving; from complaining to being grateful for everything – big or little.

What if we all expressed gratitude together every day for the rest of this month, confidently knowing that the divine Presence will supply what we all need? Who knows what great things we might then accomplish – ending hunger among the elderly, perhaps among all – before 2020?

(1)  Christian Science Hymnal, #203

Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, Christian Science, science, religion, the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.  She and her husband enjoy hiking, especially with Callie, a Blue Heeler, and riding motorcycles.  


2 Comments

  1. Thank you, a real eye-opener, and call for gratitude as often as one thinks about it. We are all rich in some way, and this equates to not being “found wanting.” My grandmother, who grew up in Baltimore, never had much money, but she had so much love, and gave of herself so much, that there was never opportunity for lack or sadness to take hold, and there wasnt anything anyone wouldn’t do for her..

    • What a joy that we can learn from our grandparents, parents how to love unconditionally.
      Kate