As the war in Iraq goes on, I sometimes struggle against impatience and discouragement because I long for the war to be over, yet I don't want to see Iraq reduced to chaos, either. I know that many people besides myself have been praying for the war to end, but it continues.
I found some insight on this issue when I read a short article called "Power of Prayer" by Mary Baker Eddy. This passage got me to thinking further about prayer for peace in Iraq: "The knowledge that all things are possible to God excludes doubt, but differing human concepts as to the divine power and purpose of infinite Mind, and the so-called power of matter, act as the different properties of drugs are supposed to act – one against the other – and this compound of mind and matter neutralizes itself" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 293).
I saw that if one group of people is praying for peace with the expectation that it can only come about through a military victory by one side or the other, while another group is praying for the US to get out of Iraq no matter what, and yet another wants to maintain control as long as possible, the result could be less than perfect. Action based on such disparate prayers would probably lack the kind of spiritual authority it needs for success.
But from that statement by Mrs. Eddy, I thought of a way that could unite prayer in the quest not just for peace in Iraq but also in other areas – in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Uganda, and the Sudan, to mention a few. What if each person concerned about war (in Iraq or elsewhere) made a commitment to purify his or her desire for peace sufficiently so that the peace didn't need to come about in a certain way. In other words, if each of us was willing truly to let God's will prevail – and trust that a truly good God, which He is, would bless all the parties concerned.
Mary Baker Eddy stated that God is the only Mind and that the harmony we experience is in proportion to our willingness to accept the direction of this one loving Mind. Over the years I've found this concept enormously helpful at eliminating mental tugs of war with people with whom I was having difficulties. When I could yield my own will to the will of Mind, harmony was often established very quickly.
I realize that obtaining peace in my own life is minuscule compared with solving the problems of war, but the author of the book of Hebrews speaks of individual steps toward peace as pointing toward a larger venue: "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (12:14, 15).
To me, following peace with all men (and women) has two parts. First, it means to be willing in my day-to-day encounters to choose peace instead of anger, love instead of hate. That isn't always easy, but I've found that the sooner I give up anger or hate, the more quickly peace comes. Even more effective is to mentally insist that peace is actually the only option. Because each of us is spiritual and the child of God, we are naturally inclined toward good, toward peace. And this empowers everyone's efforts to express this quality on a regular basis.
The second part is to take this mental self-discipline and apply it to the larger world scene. This involves refusing to see people as warmongers or as hopeless or too dense to perceive and receive love. It also requires that one be willing to trust the divine Mind to guide us all – you and me and the leaders of the nations – toward acts of peace. If we can do this, without outlining how God's peace will come, everyone, Iraqis included, will be blessed.