Even though a runoff election between Zimbabwe's longtime leader Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is scheduled for June 27, there are doubts that the leadership will change even if Mr. Tsvangirai succeeds in garnering enough votes to meet the technical requirements for victory.
During the run-up to the election, the government has done everything it can to intimidate voters, including attacks on people in churches thought to favor the opposition. In the more remote parts of the countryside, campaign workers have been arrested or severely beaten. Even diplomats have been detained, although they were later released. The government has also endeavored to shut down aid groups, despite the people's desperate need for food and other help.
James McGee, the American ambassador to Zimbabwe, said, "The bottom line is this: Zimbabwe is a lawless country" (International Herald Tribune, "Zimbabwe halts aid groups and detains diplomats," June 6).
If you'd like to help the people of Zimbabwe break out of the cycle of poverty and distress, this would be a good time to pray for honest elections. Prayer recognizes that no place can be lawless because God, divine Principle, is the source of all law, and He is infinite good. Mary Baker Eddy pointed toward the source of our confidence in God's ability to save when she wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "God is infinite, therefore ever present, and there is no other power nor presence" (p. 471).
No human will – however intense – can prevail over the divine will forever. No evil, willful, or selfish presence can thwart God's purpose. His love for all His children can never be blocked. To pray, affirming the presence of God guiding all in Zimbabwe who are involved in the election, is to declare the presence of divine law, which is never absent, never unjust. While divine Principle is merciful, it also requires reformation. In other words, prayer brings about change, but always change for the better.
One example is Jesus' encounter with Zacchaeus, a wealthy (read: probably dishonest) tax collector (see Luke 19:1-9). He was curious about Jesus and climbed a tree so he could see him. He had no idea that in a few minutes Jesus would say that he should hurry and come down "for to-day I must abide at thy house." Under Jesus' healing influence, Zacchaeus told people right then that he would make restitution for any shady actions he had taken. Jesus said, "This day is salvation come to this house."
Salvation can come to Zimbabwe, also. Our prayerful appeal to divine law is an affirmation of God's omnipresent goodness, justice, intelligence, and wisdom. And since God made man in His own likeness, each of us is capable of expressing these spiritual qualities.
Even someone who hasn't practiced honesty for a long time can come to his or her senses – like Zacchaeus – and feel God's goodness within, transforming him, making honesty, kindness, and intelligence more natural than willfulness and brutality. And those who wish to serve God by living decent, spiritually oriented lives can be strengthened by our prayers as they pursue their good endeavors.
Key to gaining the positive effects of such prayer is a willingness not to outline a certain outcome. When we write the script, all too often we're being so influenced by desire for a specific outcome that we're unable to perceive the divine will for ourselves and our neighbors.
Instead, we can give up our desire to have things develop in our own way and listen for God's guidance and direction, trusting that His intelligence will bring joy and satisfaction. This enables divine Love to open our eyes to other possibilities, and to an awareness that each of us is spiritual and is under God's loving control.
God's control – not the candidates' – is what is most needed in Zimbabwe. Our prayers, affirming God's loving will as supreme and perfect, can help change the lawless bottom line to a place where Principle reigns and human will is silenced.