Meeting relentless conflict with unrelenting prayer
When tackling a demanding activity that we’ve chosen to do, the effort may not seem arduous at all. For example, while I was heading up a snowy mountain on skis recently, it occurred to me how endless the climb seemed. Around every bend there was another steep incline to conquer. And yet, the beautiful day, great company, and quiet woods meant the strenuous ascent was nothing but fun.
The challenge is applying this kind of unceasing effort in a task or activity we aren’t feeling so eager about, or maybe one we fear we cannot successfully complete.
As a protracted war in Eastern Europe and conflicts and general unrest elsewhere drag on, praying for a peaceful end to hostilities can require this same persistent effort. Relentless conflict, in our own lives or the world, calls on us for unrelenting prayer—not praying just a handful of times and, if we see no change, going back to life as usual, forgetting about the broader needs of the world. Prayer that teaches us to “love more for every hate” (Mary Baker Eddy, Poems, p. 4) enables us to grow in grace and expand our hearts with new views of God as well as of our neighbors and ourselves as children of God, always under the care and control of divine Love and Truth.
An example in the book of Acts in the Bible teaches us to face evil without relenting. When King Herod imprisoned Peter in an attempt to intimidate the followers of Jesus, the early Christians prayed “without ceasing” (12:5). Prayers of courage, not despair—steadfast, loyal to divine Truth—freed Peter. According to the account, an angel visited Peter in prison, and the chains that bound him fell away.
Prayer that reaches out to God in response to injustice or any action that tramples human rights can vehemently denounce the claims of evil presenting itself as obstruction, conflict, or harm, wherever it is found. Standing for the Science of Christianity—for the spiritual fact that God, good, is All—we can face the specter of bigotry and prejudice holding sway by renouncing “aggression, oppression and the pride of power” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 451). When these destructive tendencies appear in our own thought, Christian Science teaches the need to specifically address them as neither of God nor supported by God. Thought is the real battleground on which we face and fight the seeming presence of evil every day.
We can meet protracted challenges with an unwavering awareness of the power of God to meet every human need.
Paul, a follower of Jesus, taught, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:17, 18). To pray without ceasing reflects Jesus’ counsel to love God and love our neighbor as ourself. As we do this, we can meet protracted challenges, in the world or in individual lives, with an unwavering conviction of the power of Love, God, to meet every human need and to reveal what is fundamentally true: our present divine nature. The whole life of the master Christian was characterized by unceasing prayer. He declared his certainty that God heard him always.
The Christian Science textbook states, “. . . self-denial, sincerity, Christianity, and persistence alone win the prize, as they usually do in every department of life” (Science and Health, p. 462). Echoing this emphasis on persistence, Mrs. Eddy, one of her students recalls, once asked another student “what she would do if she were treating a case that did not yield. The answer was, ‘I would examine my own thought.’ Mrs. Eddy then asked her what she would do if the case still did not yield. The woman answered she would handle animal magnetism”—address destructive influences on their thinking. “Again Mrs. Eddy repeated her question, and the woman said, ‘I suppose I’d give it up.’ ‘And that,’ Mrs. Eddy said, ‘is just what you should not do.’ ” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Vol. I, p. 234).
Turning thought to God enables us to accept good, commit to and sustain unceasing prayer, and unwaveringly expect peace and healing. God doesn’t outline or count the passing days or let discouragement or weariness take over. Through Christ—the divine influence in human consciousness—we are equipped with the ability to maintain consistent effort in addressing the issues of the day without giving up or giving in to apathy or discouragement.
The reward of tireless effort is progress and healing. But unceasing prayer is not about waiting for God to solve our problems. Instead, it is learning to “love more for every hate” by removing from our consciousness any obstacle to spiritual growth. Even when it appears that progress has been halted, the spiritual fact is that “the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6, New King James Version). Being convinced of this truth and living moment by moment the joy that accompanies it is unrelenting prayer that reflects the divine law of progress and overcomes all that is unlike God, good.
Larissa Snorek, Associate Editor