How are you praying about Ukraine?

As the Russian invasion and bombardment of Ukraine continues, we have heard from a number of Sentinel readers about how they’ve been praying for peace. When a world situation seems grim, how can turning to God bring lasting solutions? These six contributors, based in Europe and the United States, share their prayerful answers. In addition, The Mary Baker Eddy Library has shared an account of Mrs. Eddy’s and Mother Church members’ involvement in praying for the cessation of hostilities in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. Click here for the story: 

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Whenever I’m faced with a serious situation in the world, I start by resolving the things I’m seeing into thoughts, and exchanging “the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 269)—which is a way of praying. At times, it can feel as if praying for peace just isn’t enough. Yet I believe, and know from experience, that our thoughts have more of an impact than we realize, sometimes in unexpected ways. 

My prayers recently have been focused on dealing with ego, power, and control. Rather than attaching these to people and situations in the world, I began with looking at my own thinking and behavior to see how I could address these issues right where I was, knowing that praying locally contributes to solutions on a larger scale. 

I found I could eradicate any egotistic desire for control right in my own experience. I had been feeling strongly about the best course of action for a situation in my church, and I could feel the impulse to try to impose my plan on others. As I prayed, I saw that my need for more humility and a willingness to listen to God (not to mention fellow church members and others) was the same as the need on the world scene. 

While I realize that my church situation was small compared to the tremendous challenge in Ukraine, still, the divine consciousness, Spirit’s presence, sustains and informs all right endeavors. Science and Health describes it this way: “Spirit imparts the understanding which uplifts consciousness and leads into all truth” (p. 505). 

The ultimate truth and reality of all things must include perfect peace and harmony, and we can begin by being conscious of this in our own lives. Every time we are uplifted by omnipotent and omnipresent Spirit, God, we are uplifting universal thought and experience in a tangible way, moving forward toward a world where peace looks more and more possible and real.

From Christian A. Harder:

God’s love embraces everyone!

Millions of people have been affected by the fighting in Ukraine and the events leading up to it. Media reports could be seen as dividing the conflict neatly into two sides, with one labeled good and the other evil. But a closer view reveals that it has many sides—Ukrainian civilians and soldiers, pro-Russian fighters, reluctant conscripts in the Russian armed forces, anti-war Russian and Ukrainian protesters, Middle Eastern and other refugees who had hoped never to see war again, and many others.

But if we take a step back for a slightly broader view, we see that, regardless of the human story behind their involvement, everyone involved deserves our compassion, and each one can help to end the cycle of violence. The real enemy in war is not a nation, or even one nation’s military. It is the notion that God’s children are or can be divided into competing groups.

God expresses His love in each of His children—without exception. So each of us has the ability, the willingness, and the opportunity to express His love and to see it expressed without reservation—to end “aggression, oppression and the pride of power” (Science and Health, p. 451), whether we’re in a war zone, fleeing from one, or praying for those who are.

From Graham Thatcher:

I was shocked to read that a maternity hospital in Ukraine was bombed. At first, I felt hatred toward Russia’s president and thought of him as a personal manifestation of evil.

But then I remembered a time in my life where I prayed for justice after experiencing a local crime. During that time, I learned to trust that God is Principle, the supreme lawmaker and the source of all justice. I also learned to trust that justice will be done because, as affirmed in the Lord’s Prayer regarding “Our Father,” “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9, 10). I didn’t need to know whether the perpetrator would suffer through prosecution or reform unprompted. I needed only to have the conviction that the outcome would be the expression of justice for all as outlined by divine Principle. I could know that even the perpetrator could hear the Christ, God’s message to man, speaking. Everyone involved was the individual expression of God’s justice and goodness, and must yield to the government of God. 

In an article titled “Truth-Healing,” Mrs. Eddy states: “According to divine law, sin and suffering are not canceled by repentance or pardon. Christian Science not only elucidates but demonstrates this verity of being; namely, that mortals suffer from the wrong they commit, whether intentionally or ignorantly; that every effect and amplification of wrong will revert to the wrong-doer, until he pays his full debt to divine law, and the measure he has meted is measured to him again, full, pressed down, and running over. Surely ‘the way of the transgressor is hard’ ” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 261).

I’ve been praying to lose any sense that individual man could be susceptible to a personal sense of evil and lawlessness. Instead, man is the individual consciousness of the complete reflection of God’s allness and goodness. And all leaders can hear the Christ speaking, repent of sins, reform their actions, and thus be spared consequent suffering. 

From Rosalie E. Dunbar:

Prayer shows how the power of good eliminates human will, cruelty, and wickedness and saves those affected by such aggressive acts. Approaching these types of challenges as healers, with a conviction of Love’s, God’s, power to transcend evil, helps open thought to solutions that might not have been evident before.

To me, this means that the power of divine Love isn’t limited to the solutions we can think of intellectually. One of my friends used to say, “Love can make a way out of ‘no way.’ ” She meant that no matter what we might be thinking, divine inspiration could open a new and inspired solution that transcended material conditions.

How this will play out in the current scene with Ukraine may not at present be predictable. But it’s vital that each of us, to the best of our ability, insist on God’s supremacy, guidance, and direction. In her writings, Mrs. Eddy declares that God is Mind—infinite, all-loving, and all-good. In our prayers, we can insist on the all-power of this one Mind, which loves each of its ideas. 

From Douglas Paul:

Mrs. Eddy writes, “The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus” (Science and Health, p. 25). 

For weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, I had daily been asking myself how divinity embraces humanity and what the practical implications of this are, for both individuals and larger entities. The solid landing point for me has been a realization that right in the midst of limited and discordant material conditions there is a powerful divine presence—the Christ, Truth—unknown to the material senses but nonetheless present and active in human consciousness. It is capable of lifting human experience above the limitations and cruelties of matter-based systems of thought and action. It is “the light [shining] in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). 

Along with other divine qualities, wisdom came to mind and seemed particularly important. “Wisdom is better than weapons of war,” says a Bible verse following the story of “a poor wise man” who, through wisdom, saved a city attacked by a powerful king (see Ecclesiastes 9:13–18). The many government agencies and leaders engaged in discussions and deliberations regarding Ukraine have an acute need for wisdom beyond human capacities. The beauty of divine wisdom is that it is available to all involved. It is nonpartisan and bilateral. Wisdom is the voice of divine Love heard in the quiet of unselfed love. Through the noise of raging egos, threats, ultimatums, and confusion, the inner voice of divine wisdom can be heard outlining a path of mutual satisfaction.

We can pray to know that wisdom’s voice can be heard and accepted. It can win the day for individuals and for nations.

From Béatrice Labarthe:

Like many, I have been praying about Ukraine. One way I’ve prayed has been to see that barbaric thoughts, evil, and destructive forces must lose any viability because they have no existence in God’s kingdom. Wrong thoughts and concepts cannot adhere to, attract, or amalgamate with the real consciousness of man because “adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind” (Science and Health, p. 124). Man’s core capacities and aims are to adhere to Principle, Love; to be in a relation of attraction to good; to cohere (aggregate) with beneficent ideas. And these divine laws of adhesion, attraction, can bring an atmosphere conducive to settlement. They can find an open door to bless all involved.

When terrorist attacks on civilians were frequent in Paris several years ago, I wished to do something to help, as many are doing now for Ukraine, and I included this desire in my prayer. Then one day, I was in the World Health Organization library and got into a conversation with a man who came in. I found myself speaking plainly to him about the need for the killing to cease. The next day, I was surprised to see in the local newspaper a photo of this man identifying him as the Foreign Minister of the country accused of the terrorist acts. I was in awe of having been led to engage with this man without knowing his identity. 

Not long after, these killings stopped. As the saying goes, each drop of water is important for the ocean and every sincere desire to help contributes to putting an end to the problem.

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