THE troubles of the world are so varied and multitudinous that it's difficult, sometimes, even to want to pray for solutions. We may feel so overwhelmed with wondering where to start, that we may be tempted to ask ourselves why begin, and then simply dismiss the difficulties as ``someone else's'' problems. It can seem as though just being willing to pray for the world is quite an accomplishment!
I know I should pray more diligently for the world. And I find that when I'm reluctant to turn to God for answers to national or global difficulties my reluctance to pray is often based on false judgments. Are we accepting, perhaps, the assertion that a particular country deserves its dictator or repressive system of government? Or that famine, lack, or disaster are inevitable? Purifying our thought by removing these prejudices helps us dissolve selfish motives and opinions. Then we're not only capable of prayerfully helping our neighborhoods and the world, but we find ourselves eager to do so.
That's why I sometimes find it easier to begin praying for the world by praying for myself. When we dissolve even a little inharmony within our own experience, that helps destroy inharmony within the world as a whole. I can then expand my prayer to include my neighborhood and even the world.
In my prayer I strive to purify my own heart so that I have more of the spiritual compassion for others that's essential for seeing where help is needed. Praying in this way naturally leads me to look out beyond myself to my neighbors. The same spiritual compassion that benefits me and my neighbors is also essential to our prayers for ``neighbors'' on a larger scale--be they neighboring countries or neighboring continents. In this larger, global context, prayer helps me plant my thought in God, good, which helps me see that everyone in God's world is in His hands, is loved and protected by Him. This is true even if it appears that wars, thefts, hatreds, and anxieties are rampant, because God, Spirit, is wholly good and all that He creates--all that does or can exist--is spiritual and good.
John's Gospel assures us that when Christ Jesus prayed it was not just for his twelve disciples but for all believers. He said, ``Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word'' (17:20).
Prayer does something. It shows us solutions by helping us to understand the eternal, spiritual facts that God has established. As prayer changes our thought from matter-based to Spirit-based, our experience changes and we see greater evidence of spiritual harmony manifested in our lives.
Understanding that God made man spiritual unveils man as God's image and likeness, and this understanding of our real nature heals. Perceiving God and man's relationship provides opportunities to express spiritual compassion and leads us naturally toward prayer for the world. And our spiritual understanding of God's ever-presence embraces the peace, harmony, and healing the world so desperately needs.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany: ``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'' (p. 220). We, too, can widen the borders of our prayer to include not only our family but our neighborhood, our community, our cities, other countries, and the world.