Civil liberties and prayer

Hardly an issue of any responsible newspaper or magazine in the free world is published without some mention of a need for greater freedom somewhere in the world.

Great struggles occur in the name of liberty. Yet progress seems slow and uneven. Can more be done?

No magic wand can suddenly dissolve all selfishness, tyranny, intolerance, and fear, and so bless every individual with the civil freedom he deserves. But a more effective effort can be made through prayer. The Bible teaches that prayer is more potent to reduce all human woes than is commonly understood.

For instance, the New Testament records that Peter was once locked up by Herod for purely political reasons and was freed by the prayers of the early church members. And, of course, in the Old Testament, Moses' receptivity to God's direction made possible the epic release of the entire Hebrew nation from bondage.

But without a doubt, Christ Jesus is the greatest example in history of the effectiveness of prayer. The Master's protests against injustice and for man's dignity and spiritual freedom enabled him not only to heal sin and disease but to overcome the envy, hatred, and conspiracy that sought to destroy him.

Clearly, Jesus did not maintain his freedom by violent means. When he was being illegally arrested, he said to Peter, ''Put up thy sword.'' n1 Nor did he do it simply through passive resistance.

n1 John 18:11.

Rather, the Master demonstrated liberty through active spiritual protest. He preached, ''Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.'' n2

n2 Matthew 5:44.

To pray for people who appear to be spiteful and despicable is not often easy. It seems a lot easier to curse them and their bigotry. But deep Christian humility and love enable us to understand that, in a very fundamental sense, our woes are caused by misconceptions of man, and that the remedy is to gain a right , spiritual concept through prayer. In such prayer we turn resolutely from the view that man is a wicked or ignorant mortal - even though this may seem true - and realize a higher truth, the spiritual reality of man as God's image.

The unchanging truth, as the Bible reveals, is that God is infinite good, ever-present Love. He fills all space and is the only true power, lawmaker, or cause. Man, God's likeness, is the expression of all the good that God is. He is therefore neither oppressed nor oppressive. He is caused by the one Mind to reflect all the love that God Himself has for each of His offspring. In the absolute reality of God's creation, fear, bigotry, selfishness, and cruelty are forever absent.

Because injustice seems so overwhelmingly present to many, these truths of God and man may seem to be either flatly untrue or utterly unattainable - pie in the sky - and without a doubt, hard work is required to demonstrate spiritual dominion. But Jesus' life shows it is possible.

Nonviolent protests against injustice may lead away from hatred and the violence it spawns. But might even greater good be done by humble use of and trust in dynamic prayer based on spiritual understanding? Such prayer can be a mighty power acting in human consciousness to change unjust laws with Christly wisdom and love. The power of the one Mind, reflected in prayer, is adequate to dissolve intolerance, stubborn opinions, and bigotry. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''A selfish and limited mind may be unjust, but the unlimited and divine Mind is the immortal law of justice as well as of mercy.'' n3

n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 36.

A few years ago a friend of mine in a small American city was arrested on false charges, but he held steadfastly to the truth of perfect God and perfect man, struggling to see both himself and the police as this man of God's creating. As a result, certain facts came out unexpectedly and he was released without being charged.

Through our prayers of patient, unyielding love for all mankind, civil liberties will expand and God's infinite goodness be more fully expressed. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:22

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