Following this summer’s military activity in Gaza, Jerusalem entered a period of turmoil between Jews and Palestinians that culminated in the killing of four rabbis in a Jerusalem synagogue Nov. 18. Much of the tension has been specifically focused on events associated with the Temple Mount, regarded as the holiest site in Judaism. The site is also the location of Harim al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary), the third holiest site in Islam.
Jerusalem is a place that the world’s three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – regard as central to the development of their faiths. That is to say, the spiritual ideal of peace that Abraham espoused should abound where turmoil and violence currently prevail. In a region where tension between Jews and Palestinians has escalated, how can we pray to help establish a climate of peace and tolerance at a time when that tension is heightened?
As a student of Christian Science, I’ve learned that effective prayer requires mentally challenging the picture of hatred and revenge, turning away from it as not being of God, and looking to God as the source of all peace and truth. By spiritually understanding the nature of God, we realize that harmony and goodness are the God-given reality. Our being belongs to Him, the Father of all – and this Father is omnipotent Truth and Love. As we are all children of God, the only power that can truly hold weight is that of Truth and Love. This spiritually scientific prayer – prayer based on the truth of God and His creation – can help bring greater harmony for Jerusalem, or wherever there is conflict, when we see that the source of everyone’s true nature is divine Love, because seeing others as they truly are illuminates the possibility of peace.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, defines the spiritual meaning of the biblical term “Jerusalem” in the Glossary of her textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She says: “Jerusalem. Mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal senses; the pride of power and the power of pride.... Home, heaven” (p. 589).
This definition points to elements of human thought and character that need healing worldwide – as well as to the eternal truth of God’s harmony and supremacy in which God reigns and there is no conflict. Man (meaning the true, God-given identity of all men and women) is the likeness or reflection of God, and therefore reflects the capacity to know the truth. So each of us can, through prayer, increasingly discern spiritual reality and help bring healing to discordant situations, however long discord has seemed to exist. God-inspired prayer can do much to bring resolution to conflict, whether on a modest, individual scale or in the larger arena of world problems.
Although we may not live in Jerusalem, space is no barrier to the power of prayer. This is because the light of divine Love is everywhere, and what we understand spiritually transforms human thought. As the Psalmist admonished us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” we can prayerfully pour true, spiritual love into the situation to help counteract the elements of the mortal, or carnal, mind that are evident in conflict. As Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, “The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of love” (p. 201).
When truth and love are faithfully reflected in prayer about any situation, progress must follow for all concerned. The reason? Good is more powerful than evil; love more powerful than hate; and truth more powerful than the erroneous thoughts and attitudes involved in any conflict-ridden situation – even in Jerusalem.