How can I pray, I asked myself, for Iraq?
Does it matter that Iraq is almost completely a Muslim society and I'm a Christian? As I pondered this question, I found where Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote: "God is universal; confined to no spot, defined by no dogma, appropriated by no sect. Not more to one than to all, is God demonstrable as divine Life, Truth, and Love; and His people are they that reflect Him – that reflect Love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p 150).
There isn't a Muslim God and a Christian God. There is, I believe, only the one infinite All-power. This makes us all children of the one God, and therefore we have a brotherhood that is wider than the narrow confines of religious dogma.
I feel I have a duty to see the divine power working on the hearts and minds of all involved. I trust that my prayers, thousands of miles away from the conflict, can help bring order, stability, and peace for Iraq.
I felt that I needed some specific direction for my prayers, so I turned to the Bible for guidance and read, "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God" (Isa. 50:10).
Praying for light – for the enlightenment that can cut through the darkness of sectarian hatred and resentment to show a way in which peace can be agreed upon and implemented – is something that I can do.
While it seems that the difficulties toward achieving peace might be insurmountable, I take heart in recent developments in another part of the world. This newspaper recently carried a series, "Africa After war: Paths to forgiveness" (Oct. 23-26), that highlighted vastly encouraging stories of reconciliation and peacemaking on that continent.
Having lived in several African countries for more than 10 years, I knew average people, Christian or Muslim, who longed for peace and were praying for it.
Even though peace seemed impossible at times, my friends showed courage and persistence in their prayers. Many are now seeing a slow but steady improvement in their daily lives. Our prayer for Africa can contribute to this momentum. In the same way, we can pray for a receptivity of thought to the divine light, which can set aside prejudices and bitterness in Iraq.
Although we are geographically removed from the conflict, we can pray that God's light will break through the darkness of hate and show all parties secure paths for negotiation and resolution. This kind of activist prayer makes us partners in the birth of the peace process.
The Lord is my rock,
and my fortress,
and my deliverer; my God, my
strength, in whom I will trust;
and the horn of my salvation,
and my high tower....
In my distress I called
upon the Lord,
and cried unto my God:
he heard my voice
out of his temple,
and my cry came before him,
even into his ears....
He brought me forth also
into a large place;
he delivered me,
because he delighted in me....
For thou wilt light my candle:
the Lord my God
will enlighten my darkness.
Psalms 18:2, 6, 19, 28