Q: How can I pray if I’m in a dangerous situation?
A: I was on a two-week service trip in Guatemala when I found myself in the middle of a frightening situation on what started out as a normal afternoon bus ride. Every day after teaching English at a school my friends and I took the public buses back to the city where we were staying. Traveling with the locals proved to be extremely culturally enriching and most days we enjoyed a combination of soaking in the Spanish language and listening to the wonderful music.
One day, though, as my group was on the bus nearing our final destination, two men boarded, then separated from each other, with one sitting next to one of my group leaders, and the other coming back to join my friends and me. We began a conversation, and the man managed to utter a few sentences in broken English. Then, all of a sudden, seeing the GoPro camera we had with us, the man mistook us for undercover cops, and started to accuse us in a very aggressive tone. After a few sentences, he even made a death threat. Because the music was loud and the bus crowded, no one else could hear what was going on. Panic descended on our little group, as our peaceful day of service and love quickly turned into something dangerous and frightening.
In spite of everything that was happening, I felt absolutely no fear.
It might sound strange, but in spite of everything that was happening, I felt absolutely no fear. This sense of perfect calm wasn’t a result of quick thinking or human bravery. I know it was the presence of the Christ—the peace-giving, life-preserving power of God that’s always with each of us, saving and protecting us. That powerful Christ presence cut right through the noise, the misunderstanding, and the fear and assured me that God was present and completely in control, no matter what seemed to be going on. I felt a deep calm as I knew that fear could never overcome or overwhelm us.
As calmly as we could, my friends and I spoke to the man in our best Spanish, telling him that we didn’t want any trouble and that we were very sorry for any trouble he might have thought we’d caused. Because I was calm, I was also able to pray during our exchange with the man, and it was clear to me that none of us, including this man, could be governed by something or someone other than God. I could see that as God’s spiritual children we were all harmless, innocent, and safe.
Very quickly the man calmed down, exited the bus, and we reached our destination without further incident. It was amazing to see the situation go from one of panic and fear to complete peace and harmony in just a few moments. Afterward, we talked with our group leader and gave gratitude for God’s protection for all of us.
The understanding that we can never be separated from God is why I was able to stay calm and pray effectively.
In thinking about this situation, I’m reminded of Psalms 107:29 where it says, “He [God] maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” That promise is actually a spiritual law to any and every challenging situation we might find ourselves in. God is always in control, and as we acknowledge His power, whatever storm is raging becomes calm. We experience God’s peace—first in our thoughts, and then in our outward circumstances.
One thing I have learned from Christian Science is that we can never be separated from God. I think this understanding is why I was able to stay so calm and pray effectively that day. Knowing our oneness with God and His steadfast government of our lives is a sure foundation for our prayers for protection and our safety—no matter what situation we find ourselves in.