Whether your prayer practice includes bells, beads, candles, cantors, wordless communion, or deeds of mercy, to love God is to love good. On this National Day of Prayer, when Americans are asked to unite in prayer for our country and its leaders, I earnestly pray that our leaders love good.
I like to think of a citizenship of religious diversity joined in spiritual unity. Lovers of good will always bring the strongest efforts and noblest motives to their arena of work.
Perhaps the most important influence citizens can have on leaders is to live in a way that says we love good as well. Nothing lobbies more persuasively than our lives for what is important to us, and for our desire to be represented by integrity, courage, and generosity.
My dad, though not a public official, was a great doer of good on behalf of this country. He came here from Russia as a child with his parents and siblings to find the religious freedom denied them in their native country. As Jews, they had been constantly persecuted.
Dad was such a warmhearted man that people turned to him like flowers to the sun. The bitter days of his childhood in Russia didn't steal the sweetness of his character. If he had a nickel and you needed a dime, he would find an honest way to put a quarter into your hand. As a young man, he found work in the newspaper industry in New York. He was the first Jew to be admitted into his newspaper pressman's union. When World War II erupted, he joined the army so that he could help to defend the nation that had provided a generous haven for his family.
By the time he came home from the war, he had earned the Purple Heart and two clusters, as he had been wounded in action three times. Although he had left the war, in some ways it never really left him.
The violence had greatly disturbed his gentle nature. However, he never once expressed any regret for having served his country. This tender, unpretentious soldier will always be my hero, for having so graciously lived his love for God, family, and country.
I know there are a lot of people in the world like my dad - generous lovers and doers of good. I pray to express more of this generosity in my life. And I know this prayer must be answered, because fundamentally we are all made in the likeness of God who is infinite Love. My prayer is that I and all my fellow citizens are receptive to God's direction in all things - that we hear His counsel and follow it with grace and confidence.
I pray to recognize one Parent of life - our common origin - as only good. And I pray that we all do more than talk about the good we hope for. That we think, speak, and act like children of God.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote: "It is of comparatively little importance what a man thinks or believes he knows; the good that a man does is the one thing needful and the sole proof of rightness" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 271).
On this National Day of Prayer, and every day following, may each of us - the ones currently governing as well as the governed - be united in love for good. May we be guided by divine justice and mercy. And may our active efforts for peace and prosperity go beyond this nation's borders to embrace the world, that we may be one family, under God, united in kindness and integrity.
"The National Day of Prayer ... is an annual event established by an act of Congress which encourages Americans to pray for our nation, its people and its leaders" (www.nationaldayofprayer.-org).
I exhort therefore,
that, first of all,
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving
of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life
in all godliness
I Timothy 2:1, 2
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor