Many sincere people feel a deep, God-given desire to pray for peace in the world. But not all of us feel our prayers are answered. Strife and conflicts in the Middle East, in Central America, in parts of Africa, and elsewhere, continue and even increase.
But our prayers can help bring peace when they are spiritually based. It's not really enough to plead anxiously with God, as though He may or may not choose to respond. Effective prayer, as Christ Jesus showed, is based on the eternal truth that God is infinite, unchanging good, always caring for His creation, and that He creates man in His likeness, spiritual and indestructible. It's based on the truth that peace is the actual, perpetual condition of God and His universe, even though this spiritual reality isn't evident to our physical senses. Perhaps the Psalmist glimpsed this truth when he sang, ''The Lord will bless his people with peace.'' n1
n1 Psalms 29:11.
Whether our prayer is a simple, childlike petition to God for world peace, or a fervent declaration of eternal spiritual truth, real, heartfelt prayer is far more than an exercising of human thought and emotion. It is a deep and humble longing to know the supremacy of good and to be good.
Potent prayer for peace includes genuinely accepting this practical truth of God's present, peaceful government of all creation. It includes an understanding that fear and hate, strife and conflict, are not inevitable, immovable conditions, no matter how many other people on this weary planet believe they are. It involves glimpsing that in divine reality there is no such thing as a warring, selfish mortal.
The first effect of such prayer is to purify ourselves. We express more willingness to admit our own faults and to let them give way to a higher understanding of the real man as God's perfect child. We take offense and flare up less often. We are not so hasty to fear or resent others, including world leaders and people of other nations and races. Narrow and ignorant opinions yield to wisdom and brotherly love. As a result, we are more at peace.
But our prayers also have an effect far beyond our own thoughts and lives. Through the leavening influence of the universal and impersonal Christ - God's healing, saving power - our prayers touch and help purify others on earth. We might say they uplift humanity as a whole, at least to a small degree, just as a sense of integrity might spread from a business executive through his or her entire organization, including employees and suppliers he or she has never met or even seen.
Not only can such prayer help those who are already receptive to the fact of God's peaceful, universal government of man; but those who war against God by being stubbornly unreceptive or adamantly materially minded can be touched, and perhaps better prepared to yield to His kingdom within. The Bible represents God as saying, ''I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.'' n2 And Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, observes, ''Marvels, calamities, and sin will much more abound as truth urges upon mortals its resisted claims; but the awful daring of sin destroys sin, and foreshadows the triumph of truth. God will overturn, until 'He come whose right it is.' '' n3
n2 Ezekiel 21:27.
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 223.
We can pray for peace more effectively when we are wisely, not fearfully, informed about national and world affairs. Yet we do not always have to know the exact time and place of meetings that are important to world peace, or who the personalities involved are. The Christ is already there, and our work is to realize that fact. When the leaven of eternal divine Truth is at work in our thought, the righteous cause of world peace is being tangibly helped. DAILY BIBLE VERSE God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us . . . . That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Psalms 67:1-4