The week this article is being written, peace negotiations are in the headlines once again.
Reading through the various news reports on peace efforts in the Middle East and Africa, I've found that it's easy to appreciate, even from a distance, the resolve, the creativity, the firmness, the patience - and at times the crisis-handling skills - that go into setting the stage for peace in regions of the world known for conflict.
And yet, what about that distance? As concerned citizens of the same world in which such conflicts go on, is a distant, hands-off attitude toward peacekeeping something that any of us should have?
Not really. There is something constructive each one of us can contribute to peace efforts throughout the world, and in our own countries. It grows out of the lessons we learn through healing conflict in our own lives. When we discover that our prayers to God bring the change of heart and mind that ends battles and establishes peace within families and in the workplace, then we understand how highly important our prayers are to the collective thought behind peace efforts everywhere.
Learning how to break old patterns of thinking and acting is one of those useful lessons that come as a result of prayer. People can too easily become creatures of habit. We may not realize that we've locked ourselves into old ways of thinking - the same old view of a situation, the same old limited expectation - until the thought-pattern is broken and we see or do things in a new way. This could be the case either between family members or governments, where the parties involved see each other as inherently antagonistic. If that's the perception and expectation of each, then there's nothing to build on, no reason to think that the antagonism will ever end.
As Mary Baker Eddy warned readers of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (the textbook of Christian Science), "The result is that you are liable to follow those lower patterns, limit your life-work, and adopt into your experience the angular outline and deformity of matter models" (Pg. 248).
A higher ideal is needed - a new model - whether we're talking about families or nations. The author goes on to recommend this: "We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives."
Like light pouring into a room through opened window blinds, prayer breaks through the old perception that sees selfish interests and a stubborn will as the controlling factors in men and women. As Christ Jesus indicated, the truth is that the kingdom of God - unselfishness, goodness, justice, mercy, holiness, love, and harmony - is the divine law within us all. Our true, spiritual nature is inherently and totally good because we are made and governed by an infinitely good God.
What a powerful model on which to build peaceful relations. The power to change people's outlook and expectation is within each of us. The spiritual idea of ourselves - as God-governed, as God-endowed with a loving nature and the ability to do only good - is at hand, this instant.
Prayers that persistently affirm this truth will benefit people on the front lines of peace efforts at home and abroad.
For though we walk in the flesh,
we do not war after the flesh:
(for the weapons of our warfare
are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge
of God, and bringing into
captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
II Corinthians 10:3-5