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Prayer during a government shutdown

A Christian Science perspective: There is a daily, hourly opportunity to unite in affirming the presence, power, and supremacy of divine government.

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Frustration was evident within both political parties this week in the United States following the announcement of a government shutdown and legislative impasse related to funding US government operations and the new Affordable Care Act.

Many citizens feel that elected leaders or members of an opposing party are failing to adequately represent their best interests or are blocking progress on important issues. At the same time, however, many people in the US and around the world are more actively and consistently affirming that there are intelligent and peaceful solutions to this and other current challenges.

Our work as citizens of the world does not end once we have cast our votes in the polls or made our opinions known to elected officials, friends, or colleagues. In fact, the more important choices may be the ones we make on a daily basis, particularly when confronted with disturbing news. Will we choose on those days to accuse, rant, give up in despair, or will we choose responses that contribute to the possibility – even the assurance – of progress?

A popular saying states that when we point a finger at someone else in blame, three more fingers point back at us. This is a helpful reminder that before accusing others, we can pause and feel at peace within God’s government – despite outward appearances. In a poem titled “Satisfied,” Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, writes,

It matters not what be thy lot,
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,
Whate’er betide.

Later in the poem, which has also been set to music in the “Christian Science Hymnal” (No. 160), Mrs. Eddy affirms that God is good, God is All, God is able, and God is glorified. From this spiritual standpoint we, too, can actively affirm a higher power at work in government affairs.

This higher power has hundreds, if not thousands, of names and expressions throughout the world. While some might refer to “God,” others affirm the presence and power of the “Holy Spirit” or “divine Love.” Some traditions identify specific offices or attributes to this supreme power. Regardless of religious tradition or political persuasion, there is a daily, hourly opportunity to unite in a common practice of affirming the presence, power, and supremacy of divine government.

It can be tempting to want to air our grievances publicly – to vent – when things don’t make sense or when progress seems halted or blocked. This frustration, however, tends to reinforce the suggestion that intelligent action is lacking. The word “frustrate” shares its root with words such as “deceit” and “fraud” and concepts such as being “in error.”

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Instead of seeing others as a source of error or deceit, it can be valuable to make sure that we ourselves are not being deceived or defrauded into believing in an evil power or a lack of good. Christ Jesus instructs his followers to practice forgiveness and pray to be delivered from evil: “After this manner therefore pray ye ... forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9, 12, 13).

Later in his healing ministry, Jesus showed an extreme measure of forgiveness for his persecutors from the cross – an attitude that assuredly contributed to the victory and resurrection just three days later.

While no one can outline how progress will come, prayer that is rooted in the supremacy of good and our universal access to intelligent and loving action must naturally bring about an improved human condition. In this way we are public messengers of peace, progress, and healing for the nations.

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