How are you praying about . . . highly charged events?
An occasional column sharing how readers are praying about current needs in the world.
When a storm is brewing in the news, how can we pray in a way that adds to the calming of it, rather than adding to the storm itself? How can we turn to God with a heart that embraces all? We asked three Christian Scientists who live in the United States—in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, which has been in the eye of several such storms recently—how they are praying. We felt their answers would be helpful as we pray about this week’s many globally watched events from Minneapolis in the US, to Moscow, to Myanmar to India.
From Chioma Bishop:
A small group of us started a world prayer group a while ago that’s been going on for about two years. We concentrate on current events and pray intentionally about them for the world. Sometimes I can feel as though I’m not clear enough to really pray effectively for the world, or maybe I’m not seeing enough good. But then I realize I only have to focus on what I know—on the basic truths and the good I’ve proven in my life. And I begin to get a deeper understanding of God.
An idea that’s been helping me recently is that there are no sides to good, and good is all there is. In this time of division in our country, with the news about George Floyd, the recent trial, and many other incidents, it hasn’t been easy, but it has been so necessary to hold on to the truth that there cannot be any sides to true, spiritual good, which includes all of humanity. In spiritual reality, there’s no opposite, there’s only good because we begin with God, as Spirit.
There are no sides to good.
I start with, What do I know about God? And I’ve worked with this definition of God from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 587). I know this to be true. And its all-encompassing nature has no opposite.
Yet, the world gives us so much distraction that would pull us into believing that something other than good exists and has power. Or that there’s good for some people but not others. No sides to good means that when an event occurs in the news, I work to remove the negative emotions from the story. In other words, I try to stop and look at what’s going on in thought. Am I feeling negative emotions? What thoughts are bringing them up?
Then I refocus on what I want to see—no matter how many iterations it takes. For example, I want to see justice, so I look to God for an understanding of that instead. Emotional responses mean we’re taking sides, and they involve fear, anger, and anxiety. But focusing instead on the good I want to see in the world helps me lift thought above divisiveness.
I’ve been learning to empty thought of false passions, selfishness, or anything that wars against Spirit, and instead to be filled with the Spirit—with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And that helps me feel like I can pray for the world in a way that makes a difference.
From Peter Ward:
I have a favorite t-shirt that says, “I pray daily for all mankind. Please join me.”
I’ve felt that it’s important to be praying for all mankind including, and in particular, my local community, whatever issues we might be facing. Whether it’s about battles between people, hunger, impoverishment, perceived or misperceived ideologies, discrimination, angry politics, fatal use of firearms, or misguided or misunderstood policing practices . . . the list goes on.
But so goes the list of the mental qualities that spiritualize consciousness and bring healing thought to all these claims. As we focus on an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, we discover healing ideas that lift up the community. My job as a child of God, as a reflection of Her loving purity, is to acknowledge and yield to the divine Principle that I understand to be God-in-action.
Being dependent in my thought on the power and presence of this divine Principle, my prayer, specific to an occasion or location, an individual or population, is the simple awareness of divine good that permeates all mankind. When that spiritually motivated breath of goodness that I have mentally inhaled is exhaled upon the daily concerns of the community, it brings peace to every place.
Not everyone needs a t-shirt to remind them to pray. But when I receive a comment or compliment on mine, I share how the presence of universal goodness is the foundation for progress and will bring peace to all things.
From Stormy Falso:
As I’ve been praying about the news, I think in terms of putting aside the rhetoric. When you combine voices and images, there is a very strong pull to feel that division and conflict are real and have power. And then there’s a ratcheting up of emotion that obscures stillness and clarity—the clarity that helps us feel love for our brother man as an idea of God.
One of the things I’ve particularly worked with is from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, we are helped onward in the march towards righteousness, peace, and purity, which are the landmarks of Science” (p. 323). And I ask myself, How am I looking for justice, righteousness, peace? It’s not from diving into conflict. Instead I focus on, How can I love my fellowman more? How can I love God more?
I come from a reporting background. And so I’m always asking myself questions like, Am I hearing a fact? Or an opinion of a fact? I try to step back and see, “In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless” (Science and Health, p. 341). Understanding man as the idea of God awakens within us the wholeness of being. And this applies to us as well as to others. It helps us to look to the Beatitudes as a sound basis for how to approach the issues of taking sides, division, and conflict.
I ask myself, Am I here to be part of the chaos or to be a peacemaker? When we take a side, we put ourselves in the storm of chaos, and we’re also keeping others in that storm. Instead, we can strive to really think about what it means to be a peacemaker and stand by that. Does it make everyone happy? Not always, but it is the way of peace and progress.