The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him.
At a time when public discourse continues in the United States about guns and the wisdom of owning firearms, each of us always has the powerful option of reliance on prayer as our “weapon of choice.” Those who have prayed their way safely off battlefields and out of hostile situations readily attest to the efficacy of prayer.
Medieval warriors, even when heavily armed, felt they needed that extra measure of security and prayed before attacking a foe’s fortifications or defending their own positions. The warrior classes have long believed there was a higher, spiritual dimension to their personal security beyond the art of the armorer whose weapons they carried.
Well before the modern era, Shakespeare captured this awareness in his classic prayer spoken by King Henry V on the eve of the battle of Agincourt: “O God of battles, steel my soldiers’ hearts. / Possess them not with fear” (Act IV, Scene 1).
For anyone—ordinary people, fearful in their homes at night, or anxious soldiers in theaters of war—prayer to God, who is infinite divine Love, has consistently reinforced their shaky confidence when fear tries to dominate them. Even when circumstances feel overwhelming, God’s deliverance is always at the ready. The intention of prayer is always to save and heal. It dissolves the adversary’s animosity, and can calm aggressive behavior. This silent communing strengthens one’s confidence in God’s omnipotence and replaces agitation with calmness for those on either side of the conflict.
Such prayer always begins with one Supreme and infinite God, the one divine Mind governing every individual—the good guys, the bad guys, and those in between.
This same divine intelligence stands guard when we are asleep at night. It watches over our children and grandchildren. Each of us has a right to perfect peace of mind and security for ourselves and our loved ones. Ultimately God is the answer to the question, “What is it that affords us the most effective security?”
The Apostle Paul opted for total confidence in prayer, which remains a valid, healing option today when we face the challenge of evil’s claim that it can harm, frighten, or terrify us. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)” (II Corinthians 10:3, 4).
It’s reassuring to remind oneself that the weapons of our warfare truly are mighty through God. It’s possible to have absolute confidence in divine Love’s ability to disarm a would-be assailant’s hostility. Knowing God’s presence, we could never be outnumbered or undefended, regardless of appearance or circumstances.
The one divine Mind governs every individual—the good guys, the bad guys, and those in between.
Christ Jesus provided the consummate example for dealing with dodgy situations. Take, for example, the occasion in the synagogue when people were so angered by his preaching about the fulfillment of Scripture that they “thrust him out of the city” and prepared to throw him over “the brow of a hill”: “But he passing through the midst of them went his way” (Luke 4:28–30). Jesus was so conscious of his oneness with God, his Father (and ours), that he was safe, protected by the sheer force of his conviction.
Divine Love is never off guard. I recall an uncle, a devoted Christian Scientist, who prayed his way safely through World War II. Once, while serving in the Pacific theater, he was ordered to drive a jeep down a remote Philippines road to a distant outpost. When he arrived, my uncle was questioned by an incredulous sentry, who told him he had just traversed a road through a dense canopied jungle that was alive with snipers! Later, while he was returning to the United States, a sea mine floated into the path of his troopship. The mine passed close to the ship’s hull, but didn’t explode.
As we pray, we discover that we are protected by the “whole armour of God” described in the Bible in the book of Ephesians (6:11). I recall as a reporter covering the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq, how during one ambush I could see incoming fire so thick it was spattering in the dust in the road all around me. But having been through more than a few similar firefights, I was already persuaded that my friends and I were safe, knowing that when we pray fervently, as many would in such situations, we find that prayer is always a powerful, healing force resulting in good for all.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this magazine, once wrote: “Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 149–150).
In any threatening situation, it’s helpful to recall that our prayers are not a weak pleading. Rather, they represent our powerful vote of confidence in, and affirmation of, divine Love’s power, which is always present to disarm hatred, malice, fear, or whatever would attempt to reverse God’s law, which says, “I am All” (see No and Yes, p. 30).
Walter C. Rodgers has been a news correspondent in Washington, DC; Europe; and the Middle East.