Cybertheft: Not beyond prayer

A Christian Science perspective: A spiritual response to cybercrime and security.

This week’s cover story highlights the growing concerns around cybersecurity. With cyberattacks and theft on the rise individuals (and nations) are concerned about stolen information. The September US-China agreement and the pledge of 20 countries at the November G-20 Antalya summit to stop cyberthreats are hopeful steps forward.

In the “somewhere out there” of cyberspace, cybertheft may seem faceless and too concealed. But I have learned, through many years of turning to prayer when confronted with difficulties, that nothing is too far out of range or too hidden for individual prayer to make a healing difference. It is because God is infinite Spirit, and is therefore everywhere, that our prayers can reach humanity without reference to time or distance – even more immediately than information can be transmitted through the Internet.

One idea that I have found helpful in praying about cybersecurity is that everyone has an innate ability to hear and follow God’s direction in order to stay clear from harm. The Bible refers to God as an alert and watchful Shepherd, tenderly caring for His flock (see Isaiah 40:11). The shepherd always confidently leads his flock away from danger, and the flock willingly follows.

One example of God’s shepherding happened to Joseph right after Christ Jesus was born. King Herod was secretly planning on killing the baby. Even though Herod thought his intention was hidden, Joseph was divinely alerted to his plan and was directed on how to keep his family safe (see Matthew 2).

What I love about this is that it wasn’t a person who informed Joseph, but a divine message from God that came to his thought – “the angel of the Lord” appeared to Joseph right where he was. It reassures me that we can experience this same shepherding no matter what our circumstance, on or off the computer.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 89). Healing ideas and direction often come as strong intuitions or clear inspirations that don’t rely on information from the physical senses.

In order to hear Spirit’s explicit direction, we must gain an understanding of our spiritual nature and mentally shut out the noise of the material senses – just as Christ Jesus directed his followers to do when he spoke of going into the closet of prayer (see Matthew 6:6). The inspiration of prayer leads to divine direction away from harm in practical ways – even in the world of cybersecurity. For example, prayer can result in an individual feeling an intuition to change a password immediately. On a larger scale, a company could be alerted to a data leak, or authorities could uncover and put a stop to organized cyberattacks.

Even after identity theft has occurred, we can be led to answers, as was the case for a friend of mine whose physical ID card was deceitfully confiscated. In the months that ensued, my friend and I asked God for direction. Previous phone calls to legal personnel had failed to resolve the issue, but I suddenly had a clear, strong thought to call a particular government official to discuss the situation. I was immediately led to her phone number. When my friend called, the official picked up the phone right away, which was unusual for a person of her position. After that one phone call, the entire situation was resolved and my friend’s ID card was restored shortly after.

Such clear shepherding is an inspiration to me as I continue to pray about security in all human affairs – even in cyberspace.

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