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Prayer that transcends politics

From the October 22, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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When passionate politics seem to reign and emotions are running high, can prayer bring peace? Is it possible to stay calm, quiet, reasonable, and rational when engaged in conversations with someone with different political views than our own?

In fact, prayer for a righteous government can help us to stay unmoved in the middle of divisive, derisive, and even deceptive political advertising—and to mitigate the negativity related to campaigning.

In praying about the elections, I have found comfort in something Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, said when asked about her politics. The Boston Post reported in November 1908: “Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy has always believed that those who are entitled to vote should do so, and she has also believed that in such matters no one should seek to dictate the actions of others. 

“In reply to a number of requests for an expression of her political views, she has given out this statement:—

“I am asked, ‘What are your politics?’ I have none, in reality, other than to help support a righteous government; to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 276).

That standard enables us to set aside our own political opinions and pray effectively for a righteous government, no matter which political party wins. And the time to start that prayer is now! We really can’t pray for a particular person or political party to win. Instead, in prayerfully supporting the upcoming elections, we can know that God’s law is governing, guarding, guiding, directing, and protecting all. It is never who’s right, but what’s right: Principle not person.

Our prayers to address partisan polarization, slander, deception, and the mental manipulation that would fuel emotionalism can make for a much more harmonious election and a better government. Prayer enables us to do as Jesus taught: “to walk over, not into or with, the currents of matter, or mortal mind” (Mary Baker Eddy, Unity of Good, p. 11). We can pray to know that Truth, a synonym for God found in the Bible, can reign supreme, pointing us to whatever facts or information we need to make an educated political decision. Praying “for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; …” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 497), we intuitively begin to recognize and resist being mentally manipulated. We can demand to see the honesty and integrity of Truth, as well as the kindness and thoughtfulness of divine Love, expressed in our candidates and in ourselves. 

The first chapter of the book of Acts explains the profound healing effect of prayer on the political scene. Here we learn of the Apostles’ election to fill Judas’s place; the two candidates appointed are Joseph and Matthias. Peter sets the stage by telling what is needed and why, and then he prays with the 120 disciples that are present as the electorate, “Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen” (Acts 1:24). Matthias is elected but Joseph is not sidelined in the least; he too remains an active part of the budding Christian church. This kind of inclusive election is simple and powerful.

Campaigning isn’t wrong if done honestly, with the intent to educate. But it is ultimately prayer, not politics, that instigates peace for individuals and nations. Aligning our thought with God quiets tumult and silences erroneous influences vying for our attention. And as we consciously and consistently endeavor to leaven our politics with prayer, we begin to trust “God’s disposal of events” (Miscellany, p. 281).

Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,—whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (p. 340). What a powerful way to purify politics: through prayer for a righteous government, and for peace, prosperity, and harmony!

Patsy Gantt Reiman is a Christian Science practitioner.

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