THERE is inner peace and there is outer peace. Inner peace one feels --a clear sense of harmony that can exist even in turbulent surroundings. Outer peace one sees--a serene countenance, compliance with a law, a treaty to end war. Outer peace is genuine and permanent only as it is upheld by peace within. That, Scripture tells us, is where the kingdom of heaven dwells--within us.1 And that is the kingdom which brings true peace to the kingdoms of the earth. Jeremiah records these words of God: ``I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.''2 Can these thoughts help us master disquieting personal affairs or world conditions? They can. God's powerful thoughts of peace can influence not only one's thinking but all which that thinking embraces. In truth, God's thoughts are the very substance of our consciousness, which is an expression of the one divine Mind. God's thoughts are our true thoughts because our actual selfhood reflects the divine nature.
The inner peace Christ Jesus felt from a constant sense of his unity with God brought increased moral and physical wholeness to those upon whom his thoughts rested. Through divine power he healed the sick, reformed the sinner, quieted the fearful heart, stilled a raging storm. Understanding that man's true nature is the reflection of God, of the harmonizing Principle of being, the Master brought something of this spiritual nature to light right where the darkness of fear, sin, and disease perturbed unenlightened human thought. And the darkness vanished. He demonstrated repeatedly that inner spiritual peace can bring genuine peace without.
Prayer that brings peace to light is not simply thoughts about peace, however. Nor is such prayer a blind or timid plea for peace. Rather, it embodies a deep, persistent faith in--a spiritual understanding of--God's law of harmony, which is able to banish discord. Not of God's making, discord cannot exist where that law is understood to be operating.
We have divine authority to prove this. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.''3
One morning I woke to find my new car placed upside down on the lawn. Although this act of vandalism was not personally motivated, the senselessness of it was distressing. The distress worsened when, after the car was repaired, it was overturned a second time. Once again I had it repaired. But I found lasting peace only by turning to God.
I decided to rearrange my priorities to allow several hours for prayer before dawn each day, a period reserved solely for God's thoughts of peace. And this was essential, because many in the nearby community were feeling not only alarmed by the incidents but vengeful. In prayer I turned all judgment of the vandals over to God. This left me free to acknowledge their real spiritual selfhood, which, as a manifestation of God, is sinless, harmless, and satisfied.
The composure I gained as a result helped to quiet others, who were clearly unsettled by the incidents. I felt impelled to make a simple change in parking procedure, though it was evident that this alone would not guarantee the car's safety. It was prayer that quelled fear and anger in the neighborhood and prevented the car from being mistreated again.
Best of all, however, is the radical impact those prayer-filled hours, which I still maintain, are making on my daily life. They are greatly expanding my awareness of the spiritual needs of the community, the nation, and the world, and of how to help care for those needs effectively through prayer. I feel more serene, my day is richer, and I am taking a more active role in healing the ills of mankind. To that extent I am finding the ideal peace--within and without-- that comes from confronting and overcoming evil through spiritual means.
Peace is never really established until discordant thinking is destroyed. Otherwise it is a false peace, an attempt to gloss over mistakes and ignore evil. The validity of evil must itself be challenged; otherwise it will seem all the more formidable, and peace will be beyond reach. Evil has no power or authority of its own making --only what we give it. And we can take action to destroy it through an understanding of God's peace-giving supreme power.
1See Luke 17:21. 2Jeremiah 29:11. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 393. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be ye . . . sober, and watch unto prayer. I Peter 4:7