It's nearly impossible to live near Washington, D.C., as I do, and not get caught up in politics. Sometimes I feel that the simplistic reduction of complex issues to a blue-versus-red mapping misses the point of the greater good for the nation.
Over the years, I've become increasingly motivated to pray about all issues concerning my health and well-being, and am expanding this prayer to include my community, nation, and world as well.
So as I prayed this season about issues related to the President's State of the Union address, the voters' apparent repudiation of the administration's domestic and international policies in the recent elections, and the already-begun 2008 presidential campaign, it came to me that prayer lifts us above the red/blue dichotomy. It helps us see and realize the government of God that can be expressed in human governments.
This, for me, represents a sea change in my thinking, based for decades on my own political activism and not a little personal condemnation of my opponents.
While healthy and constructive confrontation in the political arena is necessary for a democracy, enmity and name-calling are not.
Prayer focuses on God, not man, and forces me to acknowledge His all-power. God speaks to all His children, not just to those of one political persuasion to the exclusion of all others. This divine voice can be heard above the fray.
In a remarkable letter the Bible counsels, "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 and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour" (I Tim. 2:1-3).
To me, praying "for those that are in authority" doesn't mean embracing a certain political viewpoint; it means acknowledging that the divine Mind that is God must be heard and expressed in wisdom, good judgment, and kindness, by all parties. It means the public dialogue, fueled by honest disagreements, can occur without bitter and personal attacks.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy was a keen observer of political developments of her day, and perhaps her ideal of public dialogue is found in her tribute to the assassinated President McKinley.
She wrote that the late President's work "began by warming the marble of politics into zeal according to wisdom, quenching the volcanoes of partizanship, and uniting the interests of all peoples; and it ended with a universal good overcoming evil." Later in the same article she commented, "Through divine Love the right government is assimilated, the way pointed out, the process shortened and the joy of acquiescence consummated" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pp. 291, 292).
In my own experience, I've engaged in dialogue with local-level lawmakers across the political spectrum. I've found that acknowledging our commonality in expressing the Divine in our love for law, orderly procedure, and honest inquiry, has led to better mutual understanding and acceptance of ideas that benefit all.
As the United States begins to swing into the upcoming elections, I find it helpful to pray that God, this divine Love that knows no boundaries, may enrich the dialogue with civility, consideration, and honesty.
Trust in the Lord
with all thine heart;
and lean not
unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways
and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3:5, 6