RECENTLY our local community joined with others to participate in an event that was designed to heighten community awareness in the fight against crime and drug abuse. It was a time for jointly seeking out solutions and demonstrating unity of purpose -- for strengthening neighborhood spirit and sending a message that neighborhoods are getting organized to fight crime. In addition to such activities there is another way we can fight crime and drugs in our neighborhoods -- prayer. At first that might sound funny. But let me tell you of an experience I had that showed me that prayer definitely diminishes crime.
I was away from home for several weeks and staying in a motel. I began to pray one evening to see a greater sense of honesty in the world around me. As I prayed, I studied the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. I found particularly helpful Paul's counsel to the Philippians: ``Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.'' And I was also helped by Mrs. Eddy's statement in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany ``No deformity exists in honesty, and no vulgarity in kindness.''
As I studied and prayed, however, there was increasingly abusive and boisterous language from the room next door. It got noisier and noisier -- and I found it more and more difficult to pray. I must admit, my thoughts toward my neighbors were not very kind. Here I am, I thought, trying to pray for better world conditions based on a more spiritual sense of honesty, and there's this terrible disruption from these people who are expressing very little integrity. Even at the time I could see that this wasn't a very positive or prayerful response.
Well, I kept studying and praying, but my focus changed a little. I prayed for renewed love for all mankind, including what appeared to be very disreputable neighbors. I prayed specifically to understand that all of God's creation is subject to His government. I knew that this truth, seen even in a small degree, would have to bring harmony, since God is constantly blessing His entire creation -- the entire universe -- with lovingkindness, peace, and order. These ever-present qualities of God preclude the existence of disorder and disrespect for others.
After I persisted in this type of prayer for a while, the noise subsided. I was able to complete my original work of praying for a greater sense of honesty in the world. The next day I picked up a newspaper and was amazed to learn that my neighbors of the night before had staged a bank robbery. They had made every possible mistake and were easily apprehended by the police.
Some might say that it was just a coincidence that my prayer for increased honesty in the world was followed by an abortive bank robbery. And if this was the only time it had happened, I'd have to agree. But a lifetime of seeing prayer answered in physical healings, in protection from accident and crime, and in improvements in business and personal relationships, makes me confident that it was the result of understanding better God's power to properly govern His creation.
God is always providing peace and safety for all His children -- that is, in reality, each one of us. However, we may need to clear away the troubled thinking that would keep us from claiming our spiritual heritage. Prayer shows us how to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, as Paul urged the Philippians, and thereby bring them into our experience. This is not wishful thinking; it is the promise of Biblical prophecy objectified in our experience.
We each can make a difference in our community! Prayer not only leads us to support crime prevention as an active, informed citizen; it also bears directly on our personal safety and can, as illustrated above, thwart criminal activities around us. Our prayer can ensure that our community is a safe place to be.
Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.
BIBLE VERSE There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.... For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. ...As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Romans 8:1, 2, 5, 6, 14