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The role of prayer in helping political prisoners

WHEN we read in these pages or hear television accounts of torture and disappearance of political prisoners, it's important that we be neither complacent nor stymied by despair. The intent of this article is to show that our prayers, based on Scriptural truths, can indeed be helpful. Christ Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is at hand.1 Divine authority is infinitely more powerful than human injustice. Our prayers, impelled by a realization that all power does indeed come from God, can have the effect of increasing humanity's recognition of the kingdom of God at hand and nurturing receptivity to divine authority. Whether a prisoner finds a new feeling of hope, or a humanitarian organization locates an individual, our humble understanding of God's government, coupled with the prayers of others, plays a part in facilitating each step of progress. How do we pray when we don't even know who or where these prisoners are? While there is no formula for prayer, it is often helpful to start by affirming what the Bible reveals of God's nature and of man's. Here we learn that He is mighty, loving, the power that saves and guides. The Bible illustrates that no government is mightier than God's government. God knows where His children are. Not one can be lost from His sight. And, despite appearances to the contrary, His offspring are eternally free. Man, as the outcome of God, is safe in the care of his creator, inseparable from the Principle of existence. The need is to help bring this absolute spiritual truth to light, to realize it in the depths of prayer as the actual condition of all individuals. God is Love, and His supreme power can protect and deliver individuals in trouble. Political plots to destroy Jesus' life mission had the reverse effect of enhancing it. During the formative years of the Christian Church, the disciple Peter literally walked out of prison without hindrance. You may recall that ``prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.'' 2 Paul and Silas were declared free by the magistrates following a great earthquake, when their feet were loosed from stocks and the prison doors were opened. They had been praying and singing praises to God.3 The following incident, though it does not involve a political prisoner, illustrates how one's prayer might support those trapped in threatening situations. While working alone as radio dispatcher in a city police department, I received an unusual call late one night. As the frantic caller was spewing out a torrent of words in a language I did not understand, the phone went dead. Here was a man in trouble with no way to communicate-- his identity, situation, and whereabouts unknown. I radioed an officer and suggested he drive along a street I thought I had heard named, to see if he could detect anything amiss. After I signed off, the concluding line of that week's Bible Lesson, outlined in the Christian Science Quarterly, flashed into thought. It was a statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,4 which I had studied in conjunction with the Bible that morning: ``No power can withstand divine Love.'' 5 I realized that since God fills all space, divine Love was already embracing the caller. And since God is all-power, divine Love must be more powerful than any human threat to one's safety. I prayed to understand that since God is all-knowing Mind, from which nothing can be hidden, He would communicate whatever needed to be known. He would govern the actions of all to bring about a solution. The upshot was that the caller's wife, who had been threatening her husband and had pulled the telephone cord from the wall, inexplicably ran out of their house just as the police officer was driving by. The officer investigated and took her to the station. When the one Mind, divine Love, was understood to be in control, the apparent force of human anger and hatred was rendered harmless. I have since found a similar approach helpful in praying about the challenge facing political prisoners. The law of God, when understood, does offer freedom and protection from harm. If we wish to see this freedom and protection more widely experienced, our prayers must pave the way. 1 See Mark 1:15. 2 Acts 12:5. 3 See Acts 16:25-40. 4 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 5 Science and Health, p. 224.{et

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