Prayer -- the road to resolving conflict
HOW are we to deal with conflict that may be touching us at the moment? Naturally we don't want to add fuel to the conflict but to help bring resolution. In order to find our best response, don't we need to look to God for help? Turning to Him with wholehearted trust and mentally listening for divine direction are vital aspects of prayer, which can lead one to feel something of the calm that Christ Jesus showed when he walked through an angry mob, unscathed.1 Or when he responded to a frightening storm at sea with the words ``Peace, be still,'' and there was calm.2 More than once the New Testament Gospels refer to Jesus going off alone to pray.3 Our own reasonable response in the midst of any conflict requires us to have a humble, listening heart. But how do we distinguish what it is we're listening to? One thing we might be tempted to listen to is what appears as our own human willfulness, a trait that often adds disturbing dimensions to a situation. In listening for God's guidance, then, one may find that this willfulness has gained a foothold in thought and therefore must be ejected.
Praying to see one's own particular solution come forth isn't exactly the same type of prayer Jesus taught. In the garden of Gethsemane he prayed, ``Not my will, but thine, be done.''4 And in the Lord's Prayer, he instructed his followers to pray, ``Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.''5 Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, offers as the spiritual sense of this verse: ``Enable us to know, -- as in heaven, so on earth, -- God is omnipotent, supreme.''6
Spiritual discernment is needed to distinguish God's infallible direction from the impulses of human will or the conclusions of materialistic reasoning. We gain this discernment as we grow closer to God through purification of thought and life, and learn something of our real spiritual identity. We can see that this type of prayer is quite different from human pleading with an unknown Deity, and it certainly isn't blind faith. This prayer requires something of us -- to live in harmony with our prayer. If we're learning more of God's goodness and His active and powerful care for His creation, we'll show our understanding of this by our love and care for others.
Clearly, these qualities don't feed a conflict; rather, they help uncover and dispel points of opposition. Our own expression of Godlike qualities fosters an intelligent and calm atmosphere, enabling those on opposing sides to work toward a divinely inspired answer. ``God is the fountain of light,'' points out Mrs. Eddy, ``and He illumines one's way when one is obedient.''7
The more we learn of God's nature -- of His justice, truth, love, integrity, joy, and so on -- the more we'll find and express these qualities, which promote redemption and salvation. In each activity of our day, whether it's getting dinner, working at an office, doing homework, whether we're alone or with another, we can practice working with, and not against, the currents of God.
Our willingness to commune quietly with God, listen for His direction, and follow through with it, is not only the beginning of prayer but a beginning and active step toward the resolution of conflict.
Steadfastly continuing with prayer gives one strength and courage that may be needed to take a God-impelled stand on an issue, however unpopular. The calm that we gain in communion with God allows us to maintain serenity in the face of heated opposition. In fact, our own unembroiled peace, gained as we see more of man's true, Christly nature, will do much toward dispelling any warring elements that would disrupt our ex-perience.
The Christliness Jesus lived allowed him to walk through the rushing mob, untouched. The desire to be Christly in thought and action toward others is a living prayer that we can practice. We too can walk that road of resolution in the midst of conflict, assured and trustful that God will guide our steps.
1See Luke 4:28-30. 2See Mark 4:36-39. 3See, for instance, Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12. 4Luke 22:42. 5Matthew 6:10. 6Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 17. 7Miscellaneous Writings, p. 117.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints. Psalms 85:8