TODAY is Halloween in the United States. When I was growing up, this holiday was a time for fun. We would dress up in -- sometimes scary -- costumes and visit the neighbors, asking for treats. Usually we got plenty of candy for our trouble. But neighborhoods and city streets aren't what they used to be, and the rise of violence and urban crime has changed the night from what I remember to something closer to its pagan origins as a night of danger, when the rule of law was suspended. This belief that law can be rendered powerless isn't something that can be dealt with simply through tougher law enforcement, however. And so for the last few years I've been praying specifically for the safety of all who are out -- especially the little children. I've also included in my prayer the thought that Christ, the true idea of God, will help individuals resist lawless behavior.
The advantage of this prayer is that it involves turning to God, who is everywhere all the time. He is Spirit, the source of all good and of the divine law that makes harmony, joy, and peace possible. If divine law could be suspended, there would be chaos. But if we understand that God and His law are ever present, we will be able to prove that His harmony is with us always, even on nights like Halloween when lawless behavior seems to be prevalent.
Christ Jesus understood very well the ever-presence of God. No matter what conditions he faced, he was confident that God would reveal to him whatever he needed to do. His willingness to listen for divine instruction and to obey are crucial elements of his ministry. Each of us has this capacity to listen to God, and it is wise to affirm this universal gift as applicable to all. This helps us to see that God isn't separate from us or from those we love -- isn't someone who may or may not answer. On the contrary, God is right with each of us -- and our children -- giving whatever guidance and protection are needed.
This is possible because we are in truth God's offspring. In fact, because man's true nature comes from God, good, we can affirm in our prayers that each individual can follow God's voice rather than mortal, lawless impulses. I John assures us, ``Ye are of God, little children.'' It goes on to explain that this spiritual fact enables us to overcome temptations ``because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.''
The safety we gain through relying on God's presence gives us peace and confidence. But it is more than theoretical or abstract thought. When we really turn to God in prayer, whether for ourselves or for our community, we are affirming that Spirit's government is relevant to our lives and that its influence can be proved. It is a way of rejecting vulnerability to violence and of insisting on seeing God's government in action.
Speaking of God, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Truth, Life, and Love are the only legitimate and eternal demands on man, and they are spiritual lawgivers, enforcing obedience through divine statutes.'' As we accept the government of these ``spiritual lawgivers,'' we are praying to be guided by God and to be obedient to His law. This obedience may be the single most important element of our safety because it will lead us to act in accordance with divine wisdom instead of yielding to personal or social pressures.
And by extending our prayer to include our communities -- understanding that divine wisdom can reach and protect all -- we will help those around us experience this safety too.