Last week made history.
Two strong adversaries, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, representing mostly Catholics desiring Irish unity, and the Rev. Ian Paisley, the leader of the largely Protestant political party known as the Democratic Unionist Party, who desire to maintain the union with Britain, met and agreed to work together in a government commencing May 8.
Though I've lived in the US for the last few years, I lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for most of my life through all the euphemistically named "Troubles" of the past 30 years. I witnessed much bombing, shooting, and the death and maiming of friends in the battles between the Crown forces, the police, the IRA, and Protestant terrorists.
Many compromises have been reached between the parties over the succeeding years, but the final contentious issue – policing of Catholic areas of Northern Ireland – was stopping a government from being formed. The impasse seemed insurmountable.
Over many years I have witnessed the power of prayer, of spiritual understanding, to break down barriers, knowing that all things are possible to God.
When I heard of the recent impasse, I began to pray. The Bible states, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). I might doubt I am particularly righteous (and hopefully not self-righteous), maybe sometimes fervent, and at least I could pray.
I began by affirming that God is all in all, that there could be no intransigence in God's kingdom, that there could be no situation that was uncompromising, irredeemable, or irreconcilable. There is no law of inconclusion.
In her primary work on Christian healing, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, described God as Principle, Love, Truth, Spirit, Soul, Life, and divine Mind. She described divine Mind as intelligence (p. 587).
I affirmed that the God-like mind is the true Mind of all the politicians in Northern Ireland and that they reflected goodness, compassion, understanding, and righteous government. I refused to accept the pictures of man as intractable, unbending, or belligerent.
At the IRA's annual meeting in February, over 90 percent of the delegates voted to allow policing in Catholic areas in Northern Ireland, which meant that dialogue could become possible with the Protestant political parties, which has now led to the formation of a government.
I'm not saying that prayer alone made the difference, but I'm grateful that I added my prayers to those from so many around the world. I'm convinced that prayer matters. God's still small voice is heard when the clamor ceases.
I love the way Mary Baker Eddy described the effects of divine power: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself,' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes ..." (p. 340).
I trust that the progress that is being made, evident in last week's historic meeting, will continue. It shines as a promise that differences can be resolved and impasses can become bridges.
Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. Isaiah 2:5