To pray for peace, I begin with me
How do we pray for peace? Is prayer even practical in a world where it can seem as though peace is the exception, not the rule?
Praying for peace doesn’t mean asking for a specific result. And it’s never an I win / you lose sort of thing. Praying for peace means starting with God and our willingness to love God and our neighbor. As a result we know and feel that God’s will for everyone is good.
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The one prayer Christ Jesus taught his followers, known as the Lord’s Prayer, includes the line, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). And God’s will is always “on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
At one time Mary Baker Eddy asked her church to pray for peace between Russia and Japan. She wrote, “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). Within a couple of months, negotiations began for a peace treaty between the two countries, and a few weeks later it was signed. Many felt Mrs. Eddy’s call to prayer had contributed to this outcome.
It’s noteworthy that Mrs. Eddy didn’t ask Christian Scientists to pray for a winner or a loser. Why would that be?
The answer might be found in that tiny little word “for.” From the perspective of Christian Science, when we pray for a quality of goodness such as peace, we aren’t so much asking or pleading for it, as acknowledging its presence. All that God has is ours, because we are each included in God’s beloved spiritual creation. So when we pray for peace, we are in fact reaching out to understand and evidence what is already present and available to everyone, since peace is an attribute of God, whom we spiritually express.
I find this to be a much more effective way to pray for peace—to persistently yield to the ever-presence and power of divine Love, and to prove this to be practical by starting small and working out from there. There’s a saying: “Think globally, act locally.” To me this means, in terms of prayer, that we include the world in our prayers, while striving to bring to light that ever-present spiritual peace in our daily interactions with others.
Once a family member whom I’d never had a good relationship with called me out of the blue. We had one of the best conversations we’d ever had. I was feeling happy about this, rejoicing that finally we might have a good relationship. But as the conversation ended, the real reason he had called came out: He wanted money, a lot of money, to pay for a storage unit he had filled with things of questionable worth. I was crestfallen. It was tempting to hang up the phone. But I didn’t. I prayed for peace.
The peace of God is always present to understand and prove—here, now, and always.
Calmly and without reacting, I refused his request, but offered money for some necessities. The call ended on a harmonious note, with no yelling or pleading. But I still felt crushed, and a little bit angry.
As I prayed more, the thought came to ponder the meaning of a prayer Mrs. Eddy wrote called the “Daily Prayer”: “‘Thy kingdom come;’ let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!” (Manual of The Mother Church, p. 41).
I was struck by the fact that this prayer does not say, “rule out of her, him, or them all sin.” It says, “rule out of me all sin.” And it says to pray or affirm that God’s Word enriches the affections of everyone.
My relationship with this family member never became postcard perfect, but it did improve over the years, in proportion to my prayers not only for peace but to rule out of whom?—me!—all sin. This included—and still includes—seeing the spiritual nature of everyone, even this family member, as God sees us all: loving, lovable, and loved.
If we don’t pray to see the peace that truly exists, we have war—in our hearts, our homes, our country, our world. So it’s important to do this, letting peace begin with ourselves, as a well-known song encourages.
It may feel like a tough assignment, this prayer for peace, but we can rest in the assurance that the peace of God is always present to understand and prove—here, now, and always.