As a reader of this column, you're likely to pray about challenges beyond your own needs: challenges such as environmental problems, economic issues, foreign affairs, legislative shortcomings, or judicial concerns. Your prayer can make a real difference.
But there is another way to nurture solutions. Besides praying about the problems, you might want to pray for those who are working, taking specific steps daily, to find and implement solutions. You may have felt the way government approaches big-time issues doesn't always inspire confidence. Indecision, wrong decisions, conflicting decisions – all may lead to frustration, even cynicism. But government isn't ultimately impersonal. It's made up of people. People like any of us. And we've heard these people invite our prayers for their guidance. Maybe we should take them up on their invitation more often.
The founder of this newspaper took seriously the value of praying for those who daily are making decisions that affect our lives – our economic future, our physical well-being, our environment, our family and friends in the military, our job prospects, our children's education. After encouraging us to pray that justice, mercy, and peace govern every nation, here is the guidance Mary Baker Eddy provided for her home country: "Pray that the divine presence may still guide and bless our chief magistrate, those associated with his executive trust, and our national judiciary; give to our congress wisdom, and uphold our nation with the right arm of His righteousness" ("Christian Science versus Pantheism," p. 14).
What an agenda for prayer! Ponder what it would mean for a segment of society to be praying for the divine presence, a supreme power, to be right at the side of government officials, guarding them; nurturing their well-being; giving them fresh ideas, wisdom, perceptiveness. They would probably feel a little like Moses! At one point, the weight of "government decisions" was just too much for him. He was struggling to keep his people safe in the midst of a fierce battle. So his supporters helped him by holding up his arms. Then things went well (see Ex. 17:8-16). The "arms" of all those who serve us need to be upheld. Your prayers can help.
While people may not always agree on human courses of action, those who know in their heart there is one God can cherish the idea of guidance from an ever-present God who is not in conflict – a God who is of one Mind.
Our purpose for prayer isn't to get God to persuade an official to make decisions the way we view the best course of action. Nor is it to get that official to listen more closely to what we think God is trying to tell him or her. Our motive would involve finding the humility to recognize there is really one God, one source of wisdom and intelligent action.
No one has a mind independent of God. Nor does someone advising the president. Nor does the president himself. We're praying for the ability to see that "divine presence may still guide and bless" those making decisions. The most natural way for that to happen is when decisionmakers are supported in their ability to feel so close to divine intelligence that their thoughts and actions express the Divine.
Intense personal views we feel when praying tend to distance us from those we would support. Praying humbly for a deeper understanding that there is one Mind tends to unite all of us with God.
We shouldn't underestimate how much our love of God may intelligently serve to "hold up the arms" of those making decisions about economic, military, environmental, or educational issues. A deep love of God is power. A quiet affirmation that God is all-knowing Mind, the source of all true wisdom and intelligence, and that all His children are made in His likeness, can empower those seeking our support in a way nothing else can.
It isn't difficult to quietly affirm spiritual truths. Those who need and deserve to feel spiritual truths are blessed by your affirmations. Let's help them help us.