Today marks the 114th celebration of the annual World Day of Prayer - coordinated by Church Women United. Each year women of a different country prepare the service Indonesians organized this year's service, which is based on Jesus' words to a young woman whom he restored from death: "Talitha cumi," or, translated from Aramaic, "Damsel, arise" (Mark 5:41).
This message can be inspiring to the women of Indonesia right now. Already struggling under economic and political stress, in the last few months the country has faced internal strife between Muslims and Christians.
Perhaps we can consider this day of prayer as an opportunity to join with our Indonesian sisters and brothers to help those in their troubled country "arise." But how can we really effectively pray about such large issues that may be very distant from us? Though cultures differ, prayer rests on universal principles - divine laws that are operative everywhere and reach inside even the most closely guarded borders.
Here are some principles that may help us as we pray for Indonesia:
Humility and honesty welcome in the truth. People of all faiths can meekly desire wisdom and compassion, rather than demand their own self-serving agendas. In this atmosphere, heart will speak to heart, and extremism will find no niche. Rather, its impotency will be exposed, for it lacks both wisdom and humility.
*A truly "holy war" can be fought without any bloodshed or animosity toward individuals. St. Paul described a holy battle that takes place in each one's life and consciousness: "The truth is that, although we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level.... Our battle is to break down every deceptive argument and every imposing defence that men erect against the true knowledge of God" (II Cor. 10:3, 5, "The New Testament in Modern English," by J.B. Phillips).
We defeat materiality as we learn that it can never bring lasting happiness. Honesty and purity destroy corruption; unselfishness annihilates greed; gentleness overpowers aggression; and a recognition of God's omnipotence dissolves pride of power. This battle - whether undertaken by Muslim or Christian - blesses instead of injures.
*An understanding of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God, divine Love, overpowers fearful propaganda designed to set one group against another. Fear is a tool of tyrants.
We counter fear by understanding that the only true power is in God and in goodness. The inherent beauty and grace present within Indonesia's richly diversified people are expressions of God's infinite love. The spiritual qualities they bountifully represent are more powerful than any despotic control.
*God loves each individual dearly and equally. Poor living conditions and hunger do not have divine sanction.
The individual awareness of God's abundant, tender lovingkindness replaces lack of all kinds, including a lack of concern for the poor. As we trust in the infinite resources of Soul, God, we begin to understand the spiritual nature of true substance and how God's goodness knows no limits or boundaries.
*All of God's children fully reflect His intelligence and compassion. Further, environmental degradation in Indonesia is not inevitable. God gives all His/Her children the intelligence to combat ignorance and greed and to carry out business in an enlightened and beneficial way for both humanity and the environment.
*God is our Father and our Mother. All of us - men and women - can recognize the value of expressing qualities of God. Beginning to see the spiritual and infinite nature of Diety will bring greater freedom from oppression. This is the way prayer causes us to "arise."
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