Prayer For Our Neighbors
IT'S encouraging, at least to me, to see that monolithic political systems long associated with repression are breaking down. But it would be naive in the extreme to think that repression has vanished--or will soon vanish--off the face of the earth. And even in the midst of the progress being made toward greater freedom for mankind, it often seems that the fall of one political system and the rise of another is accompanied by chaos and suffering. Our prayers for our fellowman can make the changes more ce rtain that lead mankind to increased freedom.
With the birth of Christ Jesus the Christian era began. His life was full of healing, redemption, spiritual freedom, reliance upon one God. Christ Jesus brought freedom--spiritual and physical--to mankind. The Bible records his wonderful healing works. He cast out devils, healed the sick, reformed sinners, raised the dead. The New Testament also gives us his teachings concerning God and man's relationship to Him. It was the spiritual power of these teachings that freed people from suffering and enabled t hem to express their genuine, God-given nature in health and freedom from sin. The spiritual freedom he brought and taught to mankind benefited those willing to accept it. Jesus' example shows us that prayer which acknowledges the all-power of the one, good, God, carries with it the ability to heal mankind's difficulties.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, recorded what she learned of the divine laws of healing that Jesus used. This book shows us clearly that the power of prayer to heal and save mankind was not limited to Christ Jesus' time. We can today call upon God and confidently expect His guidance in our lives and in the world's affairs.
In another book, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, Mrs. Eddy speaks of her own daily prayer: "Each day I pray for the pacification of all national difficulties, for the brotherhood of man, for the end of idolatry and infidelity, and for the growth and establishment of Christian religion--Christ's Christianity. I also have faith that my prayer availeth, and that He who is overturning will overturn until He whose right it is shall reign. We, too, can pray to bring healing to mankind's difficulties. The peacemaking Mrs. Eddy speaks of begins first within the hearts and minds of individuals. It then spreads to include all in the brotherhood of man.
Praying for the world, including our immediate neighbors, may be a new venture to some. But it can be done as we replace our own false opinions, bigotries, and fears with a spiritual understanding of man's genuine identity as God's beloved child.
Christ Jesus taught, as Matthew's Gospel tells us, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.
Our neighbors may be next door, in the next country, or across the world. Wherever they are, our prayer for the peace of humanity and our willingness to love one another contributes to mankind's progress.
Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.