I joined the United States military toward the end of the Cold War. At that time the country was generally united against the external threat of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union. Through unity and strength, and with the strong support of our allies, we faced down that threat.
Today, the threat to the US appears to be internal, from the polarizing divisions we have been witnessing for some time along political, economic, and racial lines. It leaves many wondering if these divisions may be too great to overcome. Yet, through the years I’ve seen deep divisions dissolve through prayer, so I know healing is possible.
As someone who once ran for office on my local city council, I take seriously our moral duty to support our elected officials and to pray that those in government will act in the best interests of their country to promote peace and unity. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (I Timothy 2:1–3, New King James Version).
I recall praying specifically at the time to know that God was governing and not a person.
Prayer, as I’ve learned in Christian Science, gets to the root of disunity, because it identifies and overturns the impositions in human thought that would make an organization or nation vulnerable to conflict. One underlying imposition is the belief that we each have a mind of our own, separate from God, and this belief in many minds brings with it conflicting opinions and viewpoints. Christian Science reveals that the opposite is true. God is the only Mind, and each of us reflects this divine Mind in spiritual unity.
Prayer that lifts thought to this understanding begins to dispel the belief in many conflicting minds. It brings to light a more spiritual apprehension of government as the guiding action of the one Mind over all God’s children. Furthermore, it removes the fear that if the “wrong” individual gets into office, his or her policies or actions can do us harm. In reality, each of us is directly governed by intelligent, harmonious Mind, the source of all true thought. We can bring this truth to bear in our daily lives by realizing that no one can be impelled to think or act apart from that divine Mind. My experience has been that as we become convinced of this, we will see greater evidence of unity in our daily lives and in the world around us.
For example, several years ago I served on the board of an organization I deeply love. At that time, it had a chief executive who many felt was running it into the ground through poor management. Members of the organization were divided into those for and those against this person. I knew people who were firmly in each camp, and recalling this situation reminds me very much of what is going on in my country today.
I prayed specifically at the time to know that God was governing and not a person. I mentally refused to give in to fear that an individual expression of God, as each one of us is, could harm any of the good that this organization represented. Doing so, I glimpsed that the organization could not fail if God was truly governing it—and God is always governing His creation. This gave me peace of mind, and over time I witnessed the rift healed, and brotherly love and unity restored.
As children of one God, we are all in the same camp, subject only to divine goodness, including just government.
In the weeks before my country’s presidential election, I had been thinking along these same lines and pondering one of the planks in the platform of Christian Science principles listed in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. When I was running for office, I had a platform—a list of legislative priorities I promised would be enacted if I were elected. I “stood” on this platform. It occurred to me that the planks in Science and Health comprise a spiritual platform upon which I could “stand” in my prayers, and that they are a unifying influence. For example, the ninth plank states, in part, “The Christ is incorporeal, spiritual,—yea, the divine image and likeness, dispelling the illusions of the senses; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, healing the sick and casting out evils, destroying sin, disease, and death” (p. 332).
It was the Christ, the spiritual idea of God, that enabled Jesus to heal sickness and the sin of inharmony and dissension. I know that today, as yesterday, Christ, Truth, is operating in every human consciousness, dispelling the illusion that organizations or nations can be divided into irreconcilable camps, and revealing our harmonious relationship to God—and therefore to each other. As children of one God, we are all in the same camp, subject only to divine goodness, including just government. This has been helpful to remember whether I’m praying about work or a political or church body.
Mrs. Eddy prayed a lot about unity for the Church she founded (the Church of Christ, Scientist). She once wrote to its branches in Chicago: “A great sanity, a mighty something buried in the depths of the unseen, has wrought a resurrection among you, and has leaped into living love. What is this something, this phoenix fire, this pillar by day, kindling, guiding, and guarding your way? It is unity, the bond of perfectness, the thousandfold expansion that will engirdle the world,—unity, which unfolds the thought most within us into the greater and better, the sum of all reality and good” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 164).
If we allow the living love of God to animate us, it will enable us to resist attempts to divide us by political party, race, class, gender, or any other material measurement. Love’s unity, “the bond of perfectness,” holds such promise for everyone.