Prayer and Iran's nuclear threat

A Christian Science perspective.

As the pace of Iran’s nuclear program quickens, the amount of enriched uranium, which could swiftly be converted to weapons-grade material, has jumped dramatically. That’s in just the past few months. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insists the nuclear program is devoted to peaceful purposes. Almost no one believes him. Mr. Khamenei asserts building a nuclear bomb would be “sinful.”

But the real sin would be to overlook a spiritual response.

Prayer-based initiatives could, and regularly do, illustrate the Almighty’s transforming power. These initiatives reach across divides and set both sides on common ground. The Bible tells of a confrontation between Syria and Israel. The prophet Elisha, a much-respected spiritual prophet and leader, prayerfully guided Israel into a position of military advantage. When the king of Israel realized this, he excitedly asked the prophet, “[S]hall I smite them? shall I smite them?” Elisha’s calming response included, “[S]et bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master” (II Kings 6:21, 22). That time, at least, war was averted. That time, peace prevailed.

Would it be excessively optimistic to now expect a 21st-century version of that kind of conflict resolution? Perhaps it would, if the whole endeavor was built on nothing more than human optimism. Then again, it would not be merely optimistic if that endeavor of today included deep and God-centered prayer. That is, prayer that turns thought entirely to the same God that Elisha knew so well. Prayer that employs the same spiritual power. Prayer that nurtures the same promise, the promise of peace among nations.

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy missed, by a few years, World War I. But she foresaw that the spiritual truths she discovered would have timeless application to a world in need. She wrote in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science” (pp. 469-470).

Notice how that single sentence returns again and again to “God,” or to a synonym for Him. Father. God. Mind. God. Good. Love. Truth. Principle. Why so much emphasis on God? Perhaps because prayer, at its purest, directs thought irresistibly to Him. Turn to Him as the one all-knowing Mind, and rivalries stemming from the notion of many minds begin to ebb and then drain away. Think of God as the heavenly Father, ever-ready to protect His flock, and apparent gaps in one’s safety get filled in and fortified. Know Father-Mother God, know Her as fathomless Love, endless in Her tender care, and frictions about to explode into flame smooth out and cool down. As people turn to God in prayer, employing different names, different aspects of His character grow more prominent. The endless sweep of His being continues to unfold.

As the facts of God’s presence and power fill thought, the notion of any other presence or power begins to yield. Prayer acts as a transformer of thought. In turn, this change of thought extends to transformation, gradually, of what appears as the physical universe. Clarity, in terms of intelligent choices and actions, expands. So does safety.

Self-destructiveness and self-annihilation are not humanity’s destiny. God’s plan is one of continuous harmony unfolding for all His children. When the facts of God’s nature are prayerfully affirmed anywhere in thought, their healing impact is felt everywhere in thought. In other words, praying for peace in places like Tucson may also promote it in cities such as Tehran. Or wherever a specific need for calm exists. In the arsenal of spiritual weaponry, it is love that outflanks hate. It is the Father of us all that blankets the whole scene with His safety, peace, and calm.

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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