Time to watch and pray

First published as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel

When reports about possible terror targets are disseminated by the news media, a lot of people take a "wait and see" attitude. For some, that may be the only approach that seems practical. Businesses and government offices can step up security and be extra watchful, but when that's done, it may seem logical to, well, "wait and see."

There is, however, a better way. Instead of "waiting and seeing," why not watch and pray? Terrorism succeeds when it keeps people living on edge, not sure if or when an attack will happen. But those who watch and pray have a different focus, one less vulnerable to terrorism.

The increased watching by government agencies for signs of terrorist activities keeps all of us alert and is an important kind of watching. Yet watching from a spiritual basis doesn't mean watching out as much as it means watching for. For what? For proof of God's presence in the world.

In the Bible, the Psalmist declared, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." And describing the city of God, the psalm continues: "God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early" (Ps. 46:1, 2, 5).

But does that mean that this holy city is only in some far-off realm, never to be realized here and now? Not at all. Because the Bible later describes this holy city as a present reality (see Revelation, chapters 21-22). So those who watch for signs that this city is really here and now are truly standing guard over loved ones and fellow workers. A significant part of standing guard - spiritually - is to pray for the whole world. And that prayer can include would-be terrorists; the prayer for the protection of the innocent can also include those who might be tempted to act wrongly.

It might seem strange to advocate praying for would-be terrorists, but when we see that prayer can truly liberate everyone from terror, including those who have been influenced wrongly, isn't everyone's safety more thoroughly ensured? Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, wrote: "The pent-up elements of mortal mind need no terrible detonation to free them. Envy, rivalry, hate need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 356).

Prayer plays a vital role in stifling terroristic impulses, no matter where they may be fomenting. Because prayer knows no limitations of culture, geography, or religion, and reaches into and transforms the hearts of people everywhere. God loves and communicates truth to His/Her creation equally, and prayer affirms this fact.

This is one reason why those responsible for security issues can rely on a higher source of intelligence than just the information gained from following paper trails and clues from individual sources. That information can be dicey, and is usually referred to as either "good" or "bad" intelligence.

There is, however, an unfailing intelligence that everyone can rely on. Throughout her writings, Mary Baker Eddy described this intelligence as the divine Mind - the unrivaled, unconfused, never-tiring wisdom that is available at every moment. This intelligence is the intuition that alerts a security guard, the prompting that staves off sleepiness during night watches, the wisdom that ensures good judgment to take necessary actions. It is an intelligence that is God, and therefore anyone can trust that it leads only to what is good for all.

Divine intelligence emanates from God - from divine Love. And this Love dissolves enmity, destroys evil, and unifies hearts. Isn't this what people everywhere truly want? So, along with the security measures being implemented across the world, each of us can offer his or her help, too - to watch and pray to see proof everywhere that the holy city of God is not just a lovely idea, but a present, powerful reality.

What I say unto you
I say unto all, Watch.

Mark 13:37

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