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Prayer and Negotiating

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

DURING the last few months, American citizens and other nations have watched the budget battle between the Congress of the United States and President Clinton. This is just one example of how important it is to pray for government.

What I mean here isn't a prayer that appeals to a distant deity in the hope of divine intervention. It is a confident prayer that expects God to be an actual help and guide. The Bible conveys the message that there is but one God, and that His government of the universe is absolute. From day to day that may sometimes be hard to believe, especially when there is so much disagreement among politicians. Prayer, then, needs to affirm that despite this inharmony, God is present and discernible. His offspring must be, like Him, loving and intelligent-not partisan and inflexible.

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The unifying element for this prayer is a spiritual fact Mary Baker Eddy revealed through study of the teachings of Christ Jesus and her discovery of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy perceived that God is the only Mind-the source of all true wisdom, intelligence, action, and being. As her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures says, "There can be but one Mind, because there is but one God; and if mortals claimed no other Mind and accepted no other, sin would be unknown" (p. 469).

You might ask what sin has to do with impasses-whether in government or elsewhere. Quite a lot, actually. Sins such as willfulness, fear, anger, and selfishness tend to work against brotherly love and cooperation. They are rooted in the concept that each of us is separate and self-centered, with priorities that are necessarily at war with one another. This view of life argues, "What benefits one may deprive another."

A recognition that there is only one Mind, or God, begins to break down the feeling that individual, warring factions are inevitable. Instead of focusing on different parties with opposing views, we can pray to bring to light the fact that all are under God's good and uniting purpose, which exists only to bless. Science and Health explains, "The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity" (p. 571).

As God's offspring, each one of us relates to the one divine Mind, which provides both inspiration and intelligence. Reliance on this fact can lead us to inspired solutions. It can restore working, harmonious relationships. It assures us that we will not lose anything if we rely on God. In the Bible the book of Proverbs says this: "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding . . . . Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" (3:13, 16, 17).

Often the best way to begin to pray for government is to pray about something relating to it in your own life. I recall a time when three other people had much impact on my work. We were having problems understanding each other. Frustrated, I was about to hold a meeting with one of them, determined that she would understand the situation. Then, as I prayed, I found myself realizing I was holding on to the concept of several clashing minds, at least two of which were devoid of understanding. Where was God in all this? Quickly, I affirmed the opposite fact-that God is omnipresent and that there is no other Mind.

Within minutes, a specific solution came to two of us, independently. This totally eliminated the trouble for everyone.

In praying about such impasses-whether on behalf of government or in some other context-it's also important to remember the spiritual fact that fear of losing face cannot keep harmony from emerging. Because God's love for us is impartial, no one is a winner or a loser; aligning oneself with divine Love saves face for everyone. God's love for us sets us free from wilfulness and enables us to see others as having the same freedom.

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Whenever negotiations of any kind are going on-whether they are taking place in a business or in the centers of national government-each of us can further the progress toward solutions by praying.

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