A recent survey of US teenagers indicated that six out of 10 say their top concern is crime and violence in school. Some reports predict an increase in violent incidents.
But the situation is not hopeless. And resignation to fear and helplessness only perpetuates the problem. It's through God's power that our children can find lasting protection. That's why we can begin right now to stop the violence through prayer.
I attended a tough high school where various acts of violence were common. I was active in several organizations seeking to prevent violence, but the situation worsened. I also attended a Christian Science Sunday School, where I learned the practical meaning of the statement that "God is love" (I John 4:8). The words of Christ Jesus showed me how he understood the love of God to be a power. They showed me that God's love is available to each of us. Christian Science explains the healing law of God underlying Jesus' lifework. It showed me specifically how God's power is available to improve my everyday experiences.
God's protecting power is seen in the Bible account of Jesus walking right through an angry crowd and remaining unharmed (see Luke 4:28-30). The power of divine Love kept Daniel safe when he was thrown among lions (see Dan., Chap. 6).
The spiritual understanding of God was helpful to me when I was confronted by eight young men, students in my high school, who were threatening to attack me. I could not run away. As they approached, I turned to God for help. I acknowledged that God is all power and that supposed divisions of race or gender cannot overrule God's power on earth. I put down fear by holding to the fact of God's love for all of His creation and seeing that no one could be excluded. It was clear to me that God would not victimize any of His children by hurting them - or causing them to hurt another. I felt a deep calm and confidence, and continued to walk toward the men. When I was within a hand's reach, one of them quietly gave the command to let me pass, which they did.
"True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us" (Mary Baker Eddy, "No and Yes," Pg. 39). As school opens and we prepare our children for the days ahead, we can do more than buy backpacks, clothes, and calculators. We can equip them with the knowledge that wherever they are, "God is [their] refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1). Our kids can learn how to pray, and to feel safe in God's presence.
When Jesus was asked how to pray, he gave what is now called the Lord's Prayer (see Matt. 6:9-13). That is a great place for anyone to start. Here is an interpretation of the Lord's Prayer from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy (Pgs. 16-17):
Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Enable us to know,-as in heaven, so on earth,-God is omnipotent, supreme.
Give us this day our daily bread;
Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And Love is reflected in love;
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over all, and All.