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Praying for 'perfect peace'

From the July 7, 2014 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Throughout the world people are yearning for peace. And not just stability in some areas and war in others—what we are really looking for might be called “perfect peace.” What would perfect peace look like? How would we recognize it?

The Bible promises, “Thou [God] wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). To have our mind stayed on God means to have our consciousness so filled with thoughts of God that there is no room for anything else. We see the world and all that is in it in the way God sees it. And how does God see the world? The first chapter of Genesis concludes, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (verse 31). With this good view there isn’t room for conflict, discord, or war.

Elisha, one of the Old Testament prophets, gave us an example of the outcome of “perfect peace.” The sixth chapter of II Kings describes how Elisha took part in what looked to be a protracted war between Israel and Syria. It states that the king of Syria made war against Israel and sent his army to pursue their army. Elisha was able to discern Syria’s plans through prayer, and warned the king of Israel at least three times where the Syrians were in order to avoid them (see verse 10). The king of Syria wanted to capture Elisha and bring him back to Syria, and he sent a great number of soldiers with horses and chariots and surrounded Dothan, the city where Elisha was. The next morning, Elisha’s servant saw the army surrounding the city and made a fearful report to the prophet. Yet Elisha’s mind was so stayed on God that he could see that God’s forces supporting him were greater than the forces of the opposing army. Elisha prayed that the servant’s eyes would be opened, and when they were, he saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (verse 17).

As the story goes on, the Syrian soldiers are struck blind, and as a result, Elisha leads them to the king of Israel, where their eyes were opened. The king of Israel asked if he should kill the Syrian army, but Elisha said to give them food and drink and send them back. The army returned to the king of Syria, and the Bible records that “the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel” (verse 23). In other words, a level of “perfect peace” was reached—the clouds of war were dispersed by realizing God’s goodness above all else.

As we pray, we perceive spiritual messages of peace coming from God, and we can see them embracing everyone involved in a conflict.

To take a more recent example: During the Russo-Japanese War from 1904 to 1905, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote an article titled “How strife may be stilled,” which included these words: “The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue—‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’—obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 279). How do we obey the First Commandment? We keep our minds so filled with the goodness of God that there is no room for anything else. In doing so, we recognize that there is no other power, no intelligence apart from God. No matter what human situation we perceive—whether we’re seeing strife on an interpersonal or international level—a mind filled with spiritual goodness is at peace.

Several months after writing her article, Eddy requested all members of The Mother Church to pray that Russia and Japan would settle the war peacefully. One Russian-American student of Christian Science, Morris Weber, wrote to her and reported his initial difficulty following her request to pray for peace. He described what he had gained from continuing his prayer: “Great peace came to me in that hour, for I could see the brotherhood of God’s children, perfect and eternal, and this conviction ruled out all prejudice and let Love reign supreme” (“A Russian on Peace,” Sentinel, October 21, 1905).

Doesn’t this prayer point toward the “perfect peace” that the Bible talks about? It overcame the strong difficulty, or resistance, that Weber felt, and allowed him to pray impartially for an end to conflict. As we pray, we perceive spiritual messages of peace coming from God, and we can see them embracing everyone involved in a conflict. It should be added that the Russo-Japanese War ended with the Treaty of Portsmouth, which resolved both countries’ concerns and led to peace that held for over 30 years.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

—Christ Jesus, John 14:27

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy says the First Commandment is her favorite text (see p. 340). Elsewhere on that page she states, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ …” These are the harmonious and peaceful results that must come when we see things as God sees them, recognizing that His creation includes no element of violence or conflict. No matter what we’re facing, whether it’s on a personal, community, national, or international level, “perfect peace” can be the result.

Don Alusic lives in Amherst, New Hampshire.

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