What the world needs now: Church
On June 13, 1905, as the Russo-Japanese war raged, Mary Baker Eddy sent an unusual request to church members. Published four days later in the Sentinel, it read: “Dearly Beloved:—I request that every member of The Mother Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, pray each day for the amicable settlement of the war between Russia and Japan; and pray that God bless that great nation and those islands of the sea with peace and prosperity” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 279).
By that point, the conflict had gone on for well over a year with huge casualties. Yet, Mrs. Eddy, who frequently demonstrated the power of prayer to heal problems on an individual level, including disabilities, disease, and mental illness, had a conviction that the prayers of Christian Scientists could also be a specific help on a larger scale. This help could come not just through individuals, but by way of a collective—the healing power of Church.
Two weeks after that, perceiving that church members’ prayers had been effective, Mrs. Eddy called for an end to the specific prayer, and about two months later, a peace agreement between Russia and Japan was signed near Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Today, the world finds itself in similar territory as wars rage again. And the collective evils of barbarity, terror, hatred, and loss are upending great swaths of humanity. Yet, we see that a very different kind of collective action—collective prayer—like that of those church members in 1905, can help to bring about an entirely different result.
Like threads wound together to make cords, and cords to make rope, the power of the church body exceeds the power of any single individual. As Christ Jesus explained, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). He also promised of his church that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Surely, if the gates or power of hell can’t overcome church, it is because Christ’s church is what prevails against all that is hellish.
And so it is when we come together as fellow church members—in common purpose and prayer, even if not always in person—on behalf of our communities or our world. It is Christ, the true idea of God, that is in the midst of us, empowering us to take on the evils—the hells—of the world through an understanding of God as Spirit and His children as His spiritual sons and daughters. This alone can overmaster those evils.
The God-given truth that Jesus knew so well and acted on constantly is ours to realize and demonstrate collectively as well as individually. Spiritual unity has the power to get to the heart of mankind’s larger needs. It awakens human consciousness from the ignorance, fears, animality, and materialism that engender sinful actions and deadly deeds to behold the Divine here and now—the benevolence of Love, the sacredness of Life, the peace of Mind. When union in communion occurs, it opens the door to beholding others truly—as being fundamentally spiritual, the offspring of God, Spirit. Divine light always radiates outward and reliably destroys the evil thoughts, motives, and designs that evolve all wickedness the world over.
Jesus promised that those who wholeheartedly followed him would be able to do the healing works he did. This was never more true than in the church-founding career of St. Paul, who himself experienced the impact of united prayer, freeing him from sin, captivity, and even death. The first Christian collective—Jesus’ disciples—not only accomplished physical healings but grew so much in holy, Christlike character, unity, and spiritual understanding that the societies in which they lived were transformed.
Mrs. Eddy described Church in part as “that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 583). There is nothing stopping us from having the kind of healing impact on global evils that those praying more than a hundred years ago had on the world events of their day, and that Jesus’ disciples and those that followed them had on the collective troubles they faced. We have the tools they had—including the knowledge that God truly is omnipotent—to disassemble the mental forces that propagate and sustain war, pandemics, and other collective woes.
Although the Discoverer of Christian Science isn’t personally present, calling us to deal collectively through prayer with the world’s challenges, she established The Christian Science Monitor to do so. The Monitor, published by The Church of Christ, Scientist, awakens and influences thought—and therefore events—by helping to define and affirm the spiritual values that forward societal progress.
As we join together to answer the call to prayer that addresses needs near and far, here’s the outcome: “The silent prayers of our churches, resounding through the dim corridors of time, go forth in waves of sound, a diapason of heart-beats, vibrating from one pulpit to another and from one heart to another, till truth and love, commingling in one righteous prayer, shall encircle and cement the human race” (Miscellany, p. 189).
It is surely a privilege and a power to come together in anticipation of that.
Ethel A. Baker, Editor