For some time, I have prayed about the conflict in Kosovo. And I have really tried to see that peace and safety flow from the Almighty to all parties in a battle.
I've also prayed for the battle to cease.
If I'm honest with myself, though, I can see I've shaded my prayers toward those on "my" side. Since I'm American, that's meant for example praying with more thought for the United States fighter pilots than for people who are being bombed by them. Listening to some televangelists, I see I haven't been alone; the safe return of "our" troops is mentioned first, the safety of others afterward.
But I have a close friend - also an American citizen - who comes from a Serbian family in Kosovo. Throughout our friendship, she's shared stories of her visits there. And her concerns when the bombing began were not abstract (i.e., "Is this issue of vital strategic importance to the US?"). They were "Will my family be alive in the morning?" Remembering her family makes it less possible for me to slant my praying, as if American concerns were the overriding ones.
Actually, the humility I sense in my friend's prayer has been a help to my own. It has impelled in me a purer prayer, one not skewed by the assumption that the pray-er's politics are God's politics. Or that one people deserves the Almighty's help more because of a predominant religious belief or political conviction.
The plain fact is, the Father ministers His universal and impartial love equally and without measure.
True prayer is not a tool to forward military plans. It is a turning to God. It is a recognition of His nature and His care for each of His children. A laying aside of willfully held viewpoints. A willingness to let unconditional love flow from Him.
God does not see us as Christian or Muslim, as Serbian or ethnic Albanian. Or American. If His arms wrap around us all, should our prayers do any less? It is this expansive reach of the Father (and Mother) that ultimately unifies and harmonizes individuals and nations. As we understand more of the fatherhood and motherhood of God, we'll see them coming forward in more of our brotherhood and sisterhood.
This is good and helpful prayer. But it is not enough by itself. Because even siblings sometimes fight. If brothers and sisters disagree, it's because, in the broadest of terms, they have differing mentalities, wants, viewpoints, etc. But think of God as the one divine Mind. This Mind is the source of every true idea in the universe. No idea emanating from this Mind has ever been at war with another idea.
Just as there are no ideas outside the Mind that conceives them, there are no children outside God's love. From God's point of view, there can't be outsiders and insiders. Just loved ideas, within Mind. The Bible says of God, "He is in one mind, and who can turn him?" (Job 23:13). Prayer's goal is not to turn God toward a human point of view. It is to turn human convictions to the one Mind. Then prayer is less slanted - and more healing.
It would be an easy mistake to picture God as a sort of superhuman diplomat, announcing: "I can see your point of view. But I can also see their point of view." But being humanly broad-minded is not comparable to the infinite Mind. Divine Mind knows only its own thoughts - pure peace, unruptured harmony, benign power.
This is what Christ, the Prince of Peace, came here to demonstrate. We, too, can know and embody this peace, harmony, and power. The Bible records a looming conflict averted through prayer. Neither side was vanquished. Both sides were blessed (see II Kings 6:8-23).
Our prayers will do more to forward peace when we know God as both the Father-Mother of all and the divine Mind of all. This steers us from shading prayer with human opinions or agendas. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pg. 467): "It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established."