A fighter battling for his country's independence against the overwhelming might of an invading force needs to know when and how to make a tactical withdrawal. It can be wise action at the right time. But there's another kind of tactical withdrawal that's even wiser. It is prayer - honest, sincere, heartfelt prayer.
Prayer can be thought of as a mental withdrawal from the conflicts of materiality. But such withdrawal isn't escapism. It's Christian warfare, in which we stand unswervingly for God's infinite power, for His unbounded goodness. Such prayer progressively liberates us from a deadend, material sense of existence and reveals the unlimited freedom of divine reality. Through prayer we not only protect ourselves and join in protecting others from harmful tendencies; we discern the spiritual action necessary to heal any particular aggressive situation.
By quietly withdrawing from the contemplation of life as limited and sensuous , and instead identifying ourselves and others as spiritually freeborn in God's likeness, we can become conscious of the marmony of spiritual reality and help bring to light that harmony. Christian experience shows us that the consciousness of God's presence, of divine Truth and Love, liberates.
Through spiritual means alone Christ Jesus healed peole who were sick, comforted those who were sorrowing, regenerated sinful folk from their foolish beliefs, and showed the way to overcome lack. The master Christian showed the way of liberation.
In his ministry of healing and teaching Jesus demonstrated well the art of tactical withdrawal. Especially as he became more widely known and crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed, Jesus must have needed quiet times for spiritual refreshment. On one occasion, for example, when ''great multitudes'' had come, ''he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.'' n1
n1 Luke 5:15, 16.
Certainly prayer, as Jesus practiced it, isn't a matter of burying one's head in the sand and imagining all is well. Prayer is a demanding, yet satisfying and uplifting, spiritual task. In prayer, we have to stand forthrightly for truth against the arguments of evil. To get results in prayer we have to be fearless spiritual warriors.
Prayer is a primary Christian activity. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, begins her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures with a chapter on prayer. Emphasizing Jesus' instructions, she tells us: ''In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness.'' Later she says, ''The Master's injunction is, that we pray in secret and let our lives attest our sincerity.'' n2 And in still another passage, ''Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views.'' n3
n2 Science and Health, p. 15.
n3 Ibid., P. 32.
Growing up as I did in a small country that had to fight for its independence against the acquisitiveness of a larger neighbor, I've learned something of the value of tactical withdrawals. My childhood heroes were the freedom-fighters of my homeland's earlier days. Later I served with the partisans of Europe in their struggle to maintain their countries' independence during World War II. But the most important lesson I've learned in tactical withdrawals has been the importance of prayer.
By learning to pray as Jesus prayed, we gain a concept of withdrawal that's really a firm, unyielding stand for absolute Truth. Truth is changeless. By nature it imparts and maintains freedom.
The Bible describes man as made in God's likeness. It also reveals that God is Spirit. From this it follows that man's true nature is wholly spiritual and good. And from this radical standpoint of Truth we can pray effectively.
By withdrawing spiritually in prayer to refresh ourselves with a true view of life, we can regain and retain our health, joy and independence of spirit. Withdrawal in prayer liberates us individually and unites us collectively in the universal healing love of God. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16