'I am appalled by the massacre in Kosovo," British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the United Nations, according to a Reuters report. "Most of those killed were women and children," he went on. "This is not an act of war. This was plain cold murder."
Even as those words were being spoken, my friends and I were experiencing a sunny day in the United States. The autumn weather was still pleasant; the streets were relatively safe. We were all well fed, employed in work that was not life-threatening. The world of Kosovo - and other war-torn places - seemed so remote that praying for those beleaguered people was almost impossible. And yet, such prayer is badly needed.
I learned the importance of praying for the world when I was doing research in the Republic of Ireland. A special assignment took me to Northern Ireland, and one day while I was riding in a car, I suddenly realized that the soldiers who were in the jeep in front of us had real guns with real bullets in them. If something untoward happened, those young men would have to shoot those guns at real people, injuring or even killing them.
I thought of how I'd feel if one of the friends riding with me were killed. This feeling of connection with their situation began in me a regular habit of praying for peace in their country and others. I don't have friends in all war-torn places, but I realized from that one example that people being killed or threatened are not abstractions; they are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends - people.
Can your prayer make a difference even if you aren't in the place where the trouble is? On more than one occasion, Christ Jesus prayed for people who were not physically present with him. He was able to do this because he understood that God truly is ever present. This example can inform our prayers and strengthen our trust in God's power.
There is a particular statement Jesus made that I have found helpful. In "The New English Bible" it reads, "How blest are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail; they shall be satisfied" (Matt. 5:6). To me, this means that our commitment to prayer really will bring results, even if it takes a while for them to become visible. Also, for those of us who can't participate in an actual peace-making process, it is a way of contributing to the betterment of our world. For example, I rejoice in all the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland since I was there years ago. The collective prayers of many people around the world have made a real contribution to the peace process.
Praying "to see right prevail" means entrusting the entire situation to the government of God. Thus, in the face of resistance to efforts to provide a safe haven for people, we can affirm that God is divine Love and that this Love embraces all those involved. Love reveals solutions that preserve honor and are also effective for those in need. Love's ever-presence serves to eliminate long-time hatreds and bitter memories.
When corruption seems rampant, we can affirm in prayer that God is divine Principle, the source of all true law, and that this higher law does prevail. We can acknowledge that there is just one Mind, God, and that this Mind can provide intelligent solutions when there is confusion or uncertainty. Truth, a synonym for God, can and does reveal what we need to understand about a given situation. We can expect Truth to prevail because God is both omnipresent and omnipotent.
It's not always easy to keep praying when progress is slow. But a passage from Mary Baker Eddy's "Miscellaneous Writings" has been a touchstone for me over the years: "The antagonistic spirit of evil is still abroad; but the greater spirit of Christ is also abroad, - risen from the grave-clothes of tradition and the cave of ignorance" (Pg. 370).
This "greater spirit of Christ" is what satisfies our desire to see right prevail. It helps those who are in trouble - sometimes in unexpected ways - and gives strength and fortitude to those who need to make bold decisions. It gives courage to the war-weary. Our prayers for the world, and for Kosovo in particular, illustrate the presence of the healing Truth. That greater spirit can and will prevail.