Why was I awake? It was the middle of the night during finals week. But my finals were done; there was no reason I should be feeling so panicked and restless.
Suddenly, I had an intense feeling that I needed to pray. I recognized this feeling as a spiritual intuition, so I sat down on the floor of my dorm room and listened for God’s direction. I felt inspired to open the latest issue of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly to an article about combatting terrorism perpetuated by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).
We can make an impact on any troubling situation through prayer.
After reading this section of the Monitor, I realized that throughout the semester, I had been involved in a number of discussions about the Islamic State and terrorism. Because I am a Diplomacy and World Affairs major, my classes typically focused on how to combat terrorism through means such as air strikes, military force, arming the Kurdish forces, and so on. The threat seemed very real, and it suddenly occurred to me that fear about the Islamic State and terrorism had been overwhelming my thoughts, and the thoughts of my peers, all semester. And after several major terrorist attacks around the world, a huge wave of fear seemed to encompass my college, the country, and the world.
I appreciated the “A Christian Science Perspective” article in the Monitor, in which the writer affirmed our ability to make an impact on any troubling situation through prayer. She wrote: “It is empowering to know that we have the potential to be a catalyst for good right where we are, this very minute, through spiritual protests of consecrated prayer based on the divine Truth that heals. It makes a difference.”
I was struck by the power of these words. That very moment, on the floor of my dorm room, I could be a “catalyst for good” by addressing my own fears of ISIS and its activities. I realized that eliminating fear, and being diligent about the thoughts I was accepting and spending time with, was the best way I could make a difference in defeating terrorism. And those prayers can even reach beyond us to help others.
In Sunday School, the week before my final exams, my Sunday School teacher had shared a powerful idea that helped me understand the meaning of “spiritual protesting” and the importance of guarding one’s thought against false beliefs of fear and evil. She’d said: “Pretend you walk into a room, and everyone in the room has been hypnotized. The people who have been hypnotized are positive that there is an elephant on the stage. Now, would you call a zookeeper to get rid of the elephant in order to help the people who were hypnotized? No! What the hypnotized people need is someone who is not hypnotized by the false belief of the elephant. They need someone to wake them up so they can see that there was never an elephant on the stage in the first place.”
I felt a greater trust that God’s healing power could be felt in my dorm room, on my campus, and thousands of miles away.
This metaphor was eye-opening, and I pondered the idea of hypnotism in the context of the Islamic State and terrorism. I could see that the “elephant” on the stage was the belief that God was not protecting His children and that man has a mind of his own and is violent, angry, and capable of committing horrific acts. I decided in that moment not to be hypnotized by this false belief. Rather than thinking I needed to change something (or “remove the elephant”), I saw that I needed to spiritually protest against any thought that claimed there was a power, or mind, apart from the divine Mind, God.
When I got to this point of spiritual recognition, it was like I was finally realizing that there was never an elephant on the stage in the first place. In the absolute truth of being, where God, good, is All, there is no terrorism, fear, destruction, or hate because God didn’t create it. I felt a greater trust that God’s healing power could be felt in my dorm room, on my campus, and thousands of miles away in Syria and Iraq.
After praying this way, I felt much calmer and ready to go to sleep. I was comforted by God’s presence and felt I was spiritually armed after declaring that there was no elephant on the stage—no force or influence apart from God, divine Love, that could have the power to harm or even touch God’s spiritual creation.
We are all capable of being “spiritual protesters”—taking a mental stand against evil by knowing the strength and power of good. This kind of prayer is a step toward bringing peace to even the darkest corners of the world.