How natural it is not just for Britons but also for others around the globe to have a genuine interest in the upcoming referendum on that country’s leaving or remaining in the European Union – a referendum that could have a profound effect on Britain, on Europe, and on much of the world. Whether you are in the thick of the referendum debate within British society or a distant but caring observer, prayer can make a world of difference.
Prayer, the way Jesus practiced and taught it, isn’t rooting for a particular outcome. As illustrated in the Lord’s Prayer, true prayer starts with spiritual facts that already exist. The opening words of that prayer, “Our Father,” affirm that we are one family, while its closing words, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,” state emphatically that this universal family of man is under His supreme government (Matthew 6:9, 13). We best contribute to progress relative to any election or referendum by staying close mentally to such spiritual facts and letting those facts shape human events.
However, it may be hard not to have definite views regarding a fundamental change to your country. Thinking through issues, possibilities, and ramifications in a clear, well-informed way is really what we’re called to do. And the civility with which people deal with different, even opposing views, is a primary mark of maturity within a person or within a society.
In Canada, where I hail from, Quebec held referendums in 1980 and in 1995 on the province essentially becoming its own country. While there was heated discussion at the time of each of the votes and the decisions were close, most significant was the peacefulness of the process and the democratic acceptance of the outcome.
At the time of the second referendum, when I was living in Canada’s capital, my prayers led me to ask: What gives me my sense of identity? A language? A set of historical happenings? Does geography make me who I am? My study of the Bible and of Christian Science helped me conclude that what defined me was my relationship to God, infinite Spirit (see John 4:24), and that that fundamental relationship defined my relationship to others, regardless of what political structure was in place. And that relationship was one of brotherhood, peace, and harmony. No matter how someone voted, to live true to that was to contribute all that I could to my country and to the world.
Relative to contributing at home and abroad, I believe that above the electoral, political, and economic questions of the moment, the broad sweep of history will show how we’ve answered these questions: Have we loved each other? Have we respected those with whom we’ve disagreed? Have we taken the higher, often more difficult, road of inclusivity, forgiveness, and forbearance?
Growing in our understanding that God is the one good Father of us all better equips us to demonstrate that love in our lives. The founder of this publication, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340).
There couldn’t be a stronger basis for our prayers for the British referendum.