Praying for peace ... without ceasing
A Christian Science perspective.
The earnest counsel to “pray without ceasing” is found in the New Testament book of First Thessalonians (5:17). I once heard an actor read this verse, saying, “Pray ... without ceasing.” He paused noticeably after the word “pray” to give emphasis to the phrase “without ceasing.” It really caused me to think deeply about what that verse is asking.
There is prayer that we may offer once and then do not necessarily return to it. Then, there is prayer that we stay with until something is resolved. If a family member is in great difficulty, for example, who among us would pray once and then drop our effort? Would we not instead continue to look for understanding and inspiration from God and continue our prayer until the family member was no longer in danger?
The family of man is now experiencing such a need. A report recently numbered 41 wars and conflicts going on in our world today. And it is our world; we are responsible for doing all that we can to help it and all its people.
Should we not be praying to help bring peace to the world with the same “without ceasing” attitude that we would likely have when a family member is in trouble? Since God is Father-Mother, He is the creator of each of us. With one common divine Parent, we are all brothers and sisters, the expression of God’s infinite goodness.
We sometimes think of God as being humanly limited in His ability to help and heal. But Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, consistently puts forth the fact that God is infinite Spirit and so is infinite in ability and power to govern. Referring to a limited sense of God, she says, “This human sense of Deity yields to the divine sense, even as the material sense of personality yields to the incorporeal sense of God and man as the infinite Principle and infinite idea, – as one Father with His universal family, held in the gospel of Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 576-577).
Unceasing prayer for peace starts from this basis. It wouldn’t start from despair or a negative view of the ability of God to bring peace. I’ve found a helpful basis for prayer to be the recognition of God’s nature as universal Love. It includes the fundamental truths that God is always present everywhere, that God is all-knowing, and that He is all-powerful. Those spiritual facts about God reveal divine power available in every place to bring peace. This peace comes to individual hearts through prayer that reaches out to affirm and understand the omnipotence of God and the goodness of man.
The last eleven verses of Matthew, Chapter 5, could easily form the basis of any successful peace plan. Here, Jesus says: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.... But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.”
This is not foolishness. As we grow in our understanding of man’s true identity, as made in God’s, divine Spirit’s, image, the mortal view of man as capable of good and evil begins to dissolve. We begin to recognize evil and quickly separate that evil from any person and also from any power. Then we lean wholeheartedly on God to direct us safely away from any evil intent. This will bless us as well as those considered to be enemies.