As I walked past the town hall, I saw a sign announcing a meeting. It read, PARENTS' RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE QUALITY OF SCHOOLS.
I have never been inside the schools in my town. And I suppose there are many who, like me, having no children, may get most of their impressions of schools from the media. I have some pretty strong opinions, though, about schooling, about keeping violence, drugs, and politics out of schools. And about getting resources needed to help overburdened teachers and to take care of unsafe buildings. The sign reminded me, too, of schools, in some areas, closed or troubled by strife or war or tyranny.
What was my responsibility for the quality of schools? As I thought about it, I realized I had one definite responsibility: I had to pray for schools. It may sound strange. Yet if one considers that prayer is, in one sense, the most accurate way to assess any situation, then prayer was definitely my answer.
In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus told them to enter into the closet and shut the door.n1 In her inspiring chapter ''Prayer'' in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy n2 has this comment about Jesus' instruction: ''The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love. Closed to error, it is open to Truth, and vice versa.n3
n1 See Matthew 6:6.
n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n3 Science and Health, p. 15.
When we enter into the closet of prayer, what does God, Truth, show us that could help schools? To hear Truth, I found that I first had to set aside my opinions, what I thought ought to happen. As I did, I began to see the significance of Christ Jesus' being called the great Teacher. This term reminded me of how he fed those yearning to know more of God and their own nature; how he showed those seeking justice that they could find it in God's law; how he called for daily works instead of mere professions of faith. Among the disciples and others close to him we see whole lives transformed by the spirit and power of his teaching. I thought of his promise, ''Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.''n4
The great healing Christ, the true idea of God, which Jesus exemplified, is still with us to teach us. I found myself more certain, as I prayed, that the only real power at work in the human scene is the living power of the Christ, opening thought to God, opening hearts to divine Love. In his unmatched life, Christ Jesus showed, by healing the blind, insane, sinful, as well as the diseased, that nothing can oppose God, Truth. I could see more clearly that the Christ-power is at hand to free us, to break bands of tyranny, lack, ignorance, wherever they may appear.
I began to see, in the quiet communion of prayer, that God's child is upright , rejoices in God, shows forth the nature of God, divine Love. And that is everyone's true nature. Realizing this, we see that no one can truly be boxed in by race, culture, genetics, or any other circumstance. As we read in Romans, ''The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.''n5 Pupil, teacher, parent - each is, in truth, the child of God and can feel the intelligence that is Truth at work in his life.
n5 Romans 8:16.
Teaching about prayer, Jesus promises, ''Thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.'' n6 That is the nature of true prayer. It so transforms our whole basis of thinking and acting that we see things in a new light; we see ourselves, others -- reality itself -- in the light of the Christ. The transformation may or may not look, in the human scene, just the way we might have planned. But the transformation brought on by the Christ, eternal Truth, blesses.
n6 Matthew 6:6.
As a result of our prayers we may begin to take an active role in a nearby school. Or we may help young people in our church learn to pray effectively. We may even improve public decisions about schools. But the most liberating effect of our prayer for schools will be that we are helping establish an atmosphere of thought that respects each individual's right to know more of his spiritual nature and his responsiveness to divine Truth.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Matthew 21:22