Government and politics— a prayerful approach
At present, governments in many parts of the world seem overwhelmed, even crippled, by the struggle among individuals for political power. And yet, government is actually about something much more important than politics. Government is about principles and laws. Politics is about people and opinions. Politics often takes place within the context of government, but it cannot be the most important part of it.
Many centuries ago, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote, “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us” (Isaiah 33:22). When I came across that statement in the Bible, I was interested to see that the three basic functions of government that we recognize today as the judicial, legislative, and executive were recognized in the days of the early Hebrew prophets. And while individuals fulfilled those functions then, as they do today, the Israelites recognized God as the ultimate governor of the people.
Recently I’ve begun to give more serious thought than ever to the subject of government. How might I do a better job of praying for the government of my country and of all nations? And good government is important not only on a national level, but also for cities and towns, for local police and school boards—wherever people need to work together to accomplish good things for society.
How might one go about praying for government? We can begin by recognizing that God, divine Mind, is already the actual governor of the universe, and His love for His infinite family includes no politics and no opinions. Our prayers for government will be most effective, most aligned with Truth, when we keep politics and opinions out of them. We can abandon the false picture of a world of mortals battling each other for control of other mortals and accept instead the spiritual fact that we are all members of God’s family, who naturally work together for the benefit of all.
Our prayers for government will be most effective, most aligned with Truth, when we keep politics and opinions out of them.
In praying about government, it can be helpful to look for inspiration to Christ Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In this talk with his disciples and other listeners, Jesus discusses the right way to regard not only their friends and neighbors, but also those they consider their enemies. He doesn’t tell his listeners what to say, but how to think in their hearts about those they meet and talk with. He says: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:43–45). This is an attitude of thought that can take the sting out of politics and contribute to better government everywhere.
Human governments function best when leaders and officeholders bring to their jobs qualities of character that seek progress and well-being for everyone. Moral character that is strong in goodness, honesty, and genuine interest in the welfare of others enables individuals to make wise decisions, and to face the storms and meet the challenges of responsibility. In an article titled “Other Ways than by War” written for the Boston Herald in 1898, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 277).
In the hands of men and women of sound moral character, governments can function successfully for the good of all. And as we acknowledge in prayer that God’s power for good is the only real power, the belief that an individual or group can exercise personal power over people and events for good or for evil disappears.
Be firm in your understanding that the divine Mind governs, and that in Science man reflects God’s government.
—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 393
As we approach an election, we might ask ourselves, Who among the candidates will truly represent the best in me? Who will represent not my opinions and personal interests but my best hopes for my family, my neighbors, my country, and the world? In conversations with others, some of whom we may disagree with politically, we can always find ways to speak gently. We can stand for principled standards without seeming harsh or uncaring toward others, and we can also express our genuine love and concern for others without compromising those standards. Our honest and heartfelt prayers for good government everywhere will show us how to listen thoughtfully to others and learn from such conversations.
In 1908, the Boston Post published the following statement from Mrs. Eddy regarding her politics: “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” (Miscellany, p. 276).
Governments everywhere can and will improve as the world grows in its understanding of God’s government of all.
At times when politics is provoking strong emotions, I like to go back to Isaiah’s words and consider these facts prayerfully: God truly is our only judge, with wisdom that is fair to all; God is our only lawgiver, and His spiritual laws are already in place everywhere, blessing everyone equally; God is our king, our dependable spiritual guide, always showing us the right way forward.
People around the world are longing and praying for better government. Governments everywhere can and will improve as the world grows in its understanding of God’s government of all. Prayers in support of honest, peaceful, and effective government everywhere contribute to this uplifted atmosphere of thought, and they are a blessing to the world.