Prayer’s immediate impact
Your specific support of the spiritual sense of each individual is a powerful and direct help.
This article was originally published online on March 9, 2022.
History has certainly included a lot of conflict and war. At the same time, there have also always been individuals, groups, and nations advocating for peace and diplomacy, as well as greater understanding and patience regarding national and international differences.
The consciences and prayers of many readers of this magazine may tend to be oriented toward the end of all war and conflict, neither of which fits with the fact that God is All and all good. These are lofty and vital prayers, and certainly cover an important aspect of humanity’s growth.
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But I’d like to focus in on how we can pray effectively when we’re right in the middle of a human conflict—be it as big as a war visible the world over or smaller and more personal.
Behind every human conflict are individuals with viewpoints that are at odds. But regardless of what side of a conflict anyone is on, everyone has an innate spiritual sense and an unbreakable unity with God, good.
Christian Science teaches that God is the Principle of all goodness. If we accept that, then we also will accept that the ideas of this divine Principle (meaning all of us as God’s children) are completely at one with it. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy states, “Principle and its idea is one, and this one is God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Being, and His reflection is man and the universe” (pp. 465–466). The idea is not the Principle, but it can never be separated from its source in thought or action. The Bible illustrates this point throughout. It also emphasizes that man, God’s idea, has a heritage that is spiritual and incorruptible (see I Peter 1:3, 4). This is all to say that when we are praying about war, it can be incredibly effective to start with this premise and then continually support the fact that the influence of this divine Principle, Love, is reaching every consciousness in a way that that individual will be receptive to.
Because each of us has an innate spiritual sense, we have the capacity to discern what is right, real, and true. This awareness can have an immediate impact, transforming character and heart, sometimes in an instant. It can also inspire in someone’s thoughts a right decision and sudden action that bring safety and peace to that moment.
Prayer along this line isn’t about trying to bring someone into alignment with how we see things; instead, it recognizes that every heart is actually naturally receptive to and oriented toward God, good, because we are each the expression of God. And we can stand firm in the understanding that nothing can prevent each person from seeing this.
This kind of prayer can specifically challenge and break down the false concept that a person or a group of people has fallen into mental darkness and cannot help but strike out. That’s an old lie, and although it may seem to get aggravated when its deception is being destroyed, it can’t stand up to the light of Truth or divine Love reaching every consciousness.
Spiritual sense can inspire a right decision that brings safety and peace to that moment.
In the early 2000s, I was serving in the military in the midst of a tumultuous war. I know that many people around the world were praying in a powerful way for peace and for an end to all the turmoil. But I also personally know a handful of people (and I’m certain there were many more) who were tirelessly and specifically at their “prayer post” each day to support on-the-spot safety and well-being for everyone touched by the hostilities. Cherishing man’s uninterrupted capacity to discern and value good was at the core of those prayers.
During my time in that conflict, I was leading soldiers and often had to make quick and informed decisions. Each morning I’d acknowledge in prayer that my highest duty was to be receptive to the influence of divine Love, God, and to respond right away to that higher spiritual impulse.
In one instance, after we had come under a precise and acute surprise attack, my initial thoughts were impulsive, and I gave bad directions to my platoon. But a moment later, I felt a stillness and clarity wipe away the mental fog. I knew that that stillness came from God. I immediately gave a countermand that was measured and safe for all. Instead of the situation escalating, it quickly de-escalated, to the great benefit of bystanders as well as those directly involved.
I can recall many instances where a safe and more peaceful path appeared right in the midst of a tactical operation—instances when I or another platoon member would recognize and faithfully respond to an impulse toward resolution and harmony. And I think for many of us, there was a growing awareness of a higher way through what sometimes felt like “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:4). To me, this higher way was what Christ Jesus pointed his followers to—a profound awareness of the omnipotence of Spirit, God. It was this intrinsic awareness that Jesus was drawing out of his followers that could lift all above the waves of fear and conflict to both see and truly feel the power and spiritual understanding of his command to the wind and waves, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).
Your specific support of the spiritual sense of each individual—whether aggressor or victim—is a powerful and direct help. In this kind of prayer watch, no one is left out; it reaches every level of combatant from rank-and-file to leader as Christ brings every thought into conformity with Truth.