SOMETIMES we vote because we really believe in the candidates. But there are cases when people vote against the incumbents instead of for one of the candidates. There is no question that sometimes change is needed in government as in other aspects of life. But negative motives may lead us to lump the good and the bad officeholders together, and unreasoningly remove both without perceiving that there is a difference. Taking time to pray about an election gives us an opportunity to turn to God, divine Mind, and to understand the importance of letting Him govern our lives. Christ Jesus' life is a prime example for us. The Master's consciousness of man's inseparability from God made him certain that he could always turn to his Father and receive the answer he needed. This truth will help us also because God is Mind, the source of all wisdom and intelligence. Since we are inseparable from this Mind, we can pray and expect to receive intelligent answers to our needs.
Christ Jesus told a parable that to me seems particularly relevant at election time. It is a story of a man's field, which had been sown with wheat. After the sowing, an enemy came and planted tares in it. The man's servants asked him if they should go through the field and pull up the tares. Matthew's Gospel tells us that the man replied, ``Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.'' The tares look very much like wheat when they are growing; only at harvest time can you tell the difference and easily separate out and destroy the tares without harming the wheat. So it was wise to wait.
This is also true in our prayers at election time. To think in terms of a harvest -- the harvest of good decisions and service from elected officials -- is a useful way to put our voting on a positive basis. This doesn't mean we ignore the ``tares,'' but it does help us make sure that we aren't inadvertently tearing out the wheat of good service! But we can go further than this. In his teachings Jesus made clear the importance of discerning between Spirit, God, and the flesh, or the carnal mind. He wanted us to be alert to the temptations that might keep us from experiencing God's government in our lives.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, speaks about the role of spiritual discernment and understanding when she writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Spirit imparts the understanding which uplifts consciousness and leads into all truth.'' She goes on to say, ``Spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good.''
We gain this discerning, spiritual sense as we turn more and more to God for guidance and as we daily recognize our inseparability from divine intelligence. Along with this growing knowledge of God's presence, comes the understanding that to be always at one with Him means we must be spiritual, not material beings. This change in our thought of ourselves helps us to make decisions based on reason, rather than emotion. Such prayer at election time may take a number of forms. It can include specific prayer for the discernment to see through cleverly created advertisements to the real goals and qualities a candidate stands for. Or it may require us to give up a personal sense of righteousness about our cause or candidate and recognize the valuable qualities that his or her opponents also express. This can be especially helpful if the candidate we don't support gets elected!
If we are praying to see God's government in action in our own lives as well as the life of our nation, we will be supporting the highest sense of governance that exists. Then, no matter who actually wins the election, we will be doing all we can to preserve the ``wheat.''