WE hear of innocent people imprisoned, held hostage, oppressed by tyrannical governments. We may long to help, but feel there's little or nothing we can do to free such captives. Yet there is a way to help. Prayer that acknowledges man's unbreakable, spiritual relationship to God, his creator, is an effective way for each of us to respond to the need for bringing freedom to innocent men and women, wherever they may be in the world. The Bible records remarkable examples of freedom and justice brought about by prayer. Take, for example, Peter, who had been imprisoned unjustly.1 The Bible relates, ``Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.'' He walked out of the prison. His liberation could not be hindered by chains, soldiers, guards, or even an iron gate.
Prayer, as Christ Jesus taught it, establishes spiritual qualities that cannot be confined. The Lord's Prayer2 begins, ``our Father,'' and it transcends political or cultural divisions to establish the brotherhood of the children of God. Prayer that comes from the heart of sincerity and reaches the Christlike spirituality that characterizes the Lord's Prayer can open prison doors.
The teachings and works of Jesus freed mankind from all sorts of prisons -- physical, mental, moral, and political. Christian Science shows that prayer has the same powerfully freeing effect today. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains that man is the likeness of God, Spirit, and she shows that this spiritual status of man is demonstrable. A woman who obtained a copy of this book during World War II tells of her experience in a prisoner-of-war camp.3 She relates, ``I first received the book in September of 1942, and sometime in January, 1943, I was studying and all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of what man is: the spiritual image and likeness of God. It was just as if a fog had been let open and I saw that man -- as he really is -- cannot be detained in a prison, he cannot be confined in a camp, but he is as unlimited and unbounded as God.'' Then she tells of her complete freedom from unjust confinement: ``...I walked out of this camp by broad daylight.''
People all over the world yearn to see justice for the innocent. The quiet undercurrent of their prayers of compassion and hope proclaims silently that injustice cannot prevail. As we gain a better understanding of the nature of God, who is divine Love, we see also the great potential for good this understanding brings. Certainly, real prayer does not involve the outsmarting of one culture by another or a show of strength in which someone wins and someone loses. It is the patient persistence that finds new ways to communicate, the quiet acknowledgment of the presence of God that frees us to claim for all mankind the individual human rights that are rooted in man's spiritual sonship with God. Mrs. Eddy declares, ``Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression.'' She also adds, ``God made man free.''4 Through prayer, we can claim these spiritual rights for everyone and continue to claim them until they are openly visible to all.
1See Acts 12:1-17. 2See Matthew 6:9-13. 3See A Century of Christian Science Healing (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1966), pp. 136-145. 4Science and Health, p. 227.