Prayer for children in war zones

A Christian Science perspective.

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Many Afghan parents keep their children indoors to protect them from roadside bombs, land mines, and shootings, The Washington Post reported. How to make that indoor time profitable? The children’s television program “Sesame Street” is being recruited to bring “fair play, ethnic tolerance, and national unity to help heal and shape the country’s young minds” (“For Afghanistan’s children of war, ‘Sesame Street’ could provide a healing touch,” March 25).

When I read this, my heart was deeply moved at the thought of these children being caught in war and conflict zones. Besides the obvious dangers, families are often reduced to poverty because employment is interrupted and obtaining food is difficult. Sometimes children are exploited in the form of underage prostitution.

Life for children in a war zone is dangerous and confining. And prayer in defense of their innocence and safety is so important. We cannot afford to neglect or postpone this important work. Spiritually scientific prayer is a powerful weapon because it is enforced by infinite Love, our Father-Mother God, who holds all children in complete safety.

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One thing that comforts me is that each individual is a child of God’s kingdom, and that God is ever with them, as this statement from the Bible brings out: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. 43:2). This helps when thinking of how battles over ethnic issues between neighbors like Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan often affect children caught in the political divide. Kyrgyz rioters burned and destroyed Uzbek-owned homes and businesses. Thousands of Uzbeks took refuge at the border, fearing for their lives and homes. Among them were many frightened children.

Jesus urged his disciples to “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14, English Standard Version). This kingdom is the place of safety and the spiritual sanctuary for each child.

Moses’ mother’s care for her child is a great example of trust in God’s saving power. At the time, Hebrew boys were being hunted to be destroyed. Moses’ mother put him in a basket of bulrushes and placed him on the river. Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses and brought him up, and he went on to rescue his people from Pharaoh (see Ex., chap. 2). We can trust the world’s children to the arms of divine Love, “an ever-present help,” when we stand up in prayer for today’s children, no matter what type of adversity they may face.

When the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were thrown into the fire of the furnace, nothing hurt them. Nothing was consumed, except the ropes that bound them. The “ropes,” or oppressive laws of the country, could not keep these sons of the kingdom captive or bound. When they came out of the fire, not even “the smell of fire had passed on them” (Dan. 3:27). And still today, God’s care for all His children is actively present in whatever war zones they may find themselves. Our prayerful affirmations that divine Love is there will help protect them from trauma and from haunting memories of war. Nothing can keep them captive to a destructive mental environment. God, the one Mind, can protect and uplift their thoughts so that they come out of experiences free of horror, without even the smoke of battle in their consciousness.

Wherever we live in the world, we can pray for a better understanding of the protective ark each child is held in. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, clarified the meaning of ark in this way: “Safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle; the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 581).

The sustaining power of divine Spirit works through the Christ, and is present with each child. Wherever he or she may be, each one can walk with this “spiritual idea of divine Love” (Science and Health, p. 38). Each can emerge from life’s challenges stronger and freer. And all of us – those praying, and those prayed for, as children of the kingdom – can rest in the knowledge that God’s power is always available and can never be diminished.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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