God has given us the victory!
ONE lone man praying before he makes a decision. What possible difference could it make? Well, of course, if he is a man with his finger on the button of a nuclear missile launcher, a world leader about to consider a major peace treaty, or an informant about to expose a crime syndicate, it might make a difference. Even the more cynical among us would hope that in that reflective moment he might have an altruistic turn, a rational insight into the historical consequences of his decision. But what about one lone man in a public park at night--a religious teacher in a backwater area away from the center of power, a man wanted by some local authorities for allegedly disruptive teachings? What does it matter that he prays, ``Not my will, but thine, be done''? 1 We are likely to answer that question from the perspective of two thousand years of history. Yet on the eve of Christ Jesus' crucifixion, the garden of Gethsemane may hardly have seemed a place where history was being made. Why was Jesus' prayer so important? Was it simply because it opened the door for the galvanizing miracle in a major world religion? Or was it that Jesus was drawing the battle line for all of history--the only battle line that will ever count? That line is between Spirit and the flesh, between the life that God, Spirit, bestows and the opposing proposition that there is life in matter. Many would say that life can be influenced by something vaguely termed ``spirit,'' that life has an eternal element. But their conviction remains that life is essentially intelligent matter and that it is best maintained by humanly intelligent manipulation of matter. In his resurrection, Jesus closed the question as to whether such propositions are valid, though humanity is still struggling to learn this lesson of the resurrection. His triumph over death demonstrated the allness of Spirit, and it opened the door on the true understanding of man's nature, our nature, as not only dependent on Spirit but entirely spiritual. Jesus proved that what is actually vague and questionable is the conviction that matter creates and destroys life and intelligence; that material energy is the building block of man. God, Spirit, gave Jesus the victory over matter's seeming substantiality and control. Just as the Saviour fought his battle through prayer, sooner or later humanity must fight life's battle on the basis of the spiritual truth he taught. His prayer that night offers a key to our victory. He willingly put aside any faith that there is safety or salvation in human intelligence manipulating matter to protect material life. Writing of his unparalleled struggle, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``When the human element in him struggled with the divine, our great Teacher said: `Not my will, but Thine, be done!'--that is, Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented in me. This is the new understanding of spiritual Love. It gives all for Christ, or Truth. It blesses its enemies, heals the sick, casts out error, raises the dead from trespasses and sins, and preaches the gospel to the poor, the meek in heart.'' 2 Such a prayer is not simply a pause to reflect--it's hard work. But when the human element yields to the divine, the will of God is seen to be the law of God--the law which encompasses and sustains all that exists. This law of divine Love awakens one to the actual omnipotence of God, and it exposes and destroys what would oppose divine Love. So one is strengthened to glorify God--to prove man's innate purity and wholeness in one's own life. That is why prayer makes a difference and why each of us can and should pray. True prayer is the effect of divine Love at work, awakening us, awakening humanity, to the victory the resurrection represents. 1 Luke 22:42. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 33.