How can I pray about all the wars going on?
Originally appeared online in the teen series Q&A - November 28, 2023.
Q: I’m scared of all the wars going on. How can I pray?
A: I once studied in a country where there was a lot of upheaval. It was also conducting a war beyond its borders. There had been bombs on campus, and a military training building had been burned down.
In the tiny house where I lived, my bed was alongside a window overlooking the street. One night in bed, I heard a lot of shouting outside. I opened the curtains a crack, and there was a flash and a bang about five feet away. I quickly closed the curtains and pulled the comforter over my head. I was scared, but several verses from the ninety-first Psalm in the Bible immediately came to mind: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust,” “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night,” and “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (verses 4, 5, 7).
I was in a scary situation and out of my depth. I needed to reach out to a higher source of wisdom and love than my own thinking, which is why I turned to God in prayer. As a student of Christian Science, I’d learned through previous experiences that prayer meets every need. I was assured by these Bible verses that no matter how close the danger seemed to be, I was safe in God’s care. After several hours, the disturbances stopped.
Later, I felt that more prayer was needed. I’d focused only on protecting myself. How could I help the people outside—and even the larger situation? The answer came in the form of another Bible verse: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18). I remembered how fearful I’d been, and this verse was a reminder that the only way to eliminate fear was to replace it with love. The love the Bible is referring to is not a human sense of love, which is fleeting and conditional. “Perfect love” comes only from God, because He is Love itself. His love is impartial and unconditional and includes everyone. And He created us all as His children—loved, lovable, and loving. Our prayers reveal this to us.
Loving others is not about excusing evil actions and aggression, though. Loving as God causes us to love is about recognizing who these individuals truly are and expecting to see that expressed in their resistance to doing anything that could harm another. I needed to change my view of man as prone to anger and violence and instead see the spiritual view of man as created in God’s image and expressing only good qualities of thoughtfulness and consideration.
So loving in this way didn’t mean loving the actions of the people who had caused the trouble. But I could separate the people from those actions and see their true, spiritual nature as loved and loving children of God. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy says that “Love is reflected in love” (p. 17). As I began to glimpse the potential of this true nature, I saw the good that it could lead to, and I no longer felt afraid. After that, I experienced no more campus disturbances.
When terror is at hand, prayer does bring answers and help.
I don’t see wars as too catastrophic for anyone to pray about effectively, because I’ve learned not to be deceived by threatening appearances. When terror is at hand, prayer does bring answers and help to anyone who needs it. I pray to know that individual leaders and antagonists can also receive the spiritual guidance that will bring them in line with God’s universal law of peace and harmony and end the conflict. This is not an impossible task, because we’re not many independent minds; there’s only one, infinite Mind, Love, informing and governing everyone.
Our prayers about today’s conflicts are just as effective as mine were for me during this experience. God doesn’t change over time, but remains all-powerful, ever-present Love. As we put our trust in God, we will see good unfold in our own lives and across the world. As Mrs. Eddy writes, “Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ ” (Science and Health, p. 444).