Racial tension and prayer
My husband and I had just returned from a vacation in a foreign country. At a dinner party we met another couple who had been in the same area at the same time. But their experience, which included incidents of racism and robbery, contrasted sharply with our trip, which had been harmonious and stimulating. One might conclude this was a matter of luck. However, we were convinced it was not. To us it was the direct result of consecrated prayer. Let me explain.
Shortly before we were to leave on this trip, we read newspaper accounts of racial incidents in the country we were to visit, stemming from antagonism toward foreigners. Consequently, we prayerfully reconsidered our plans, and then decided to go ahead with them. We knew that our continued prayers would support our experience, bringing it to a satisfying conclusion. And that's exactly what happened. We were never threatened or in danger. In fact we were treated considerately.
One particular situation gave us a wonderful sense of answered prayer in an immediate and powerful way. As we were returning from the beach, our little rented car had a flat tire. Because there was no jack in the car, we were unable to put on the spare tire. We were tempted to feel vulnerable and quite helpless. The area was remote. The dirt road had little traffic. Furthermore, we could not speak the local dialect. The newspaper accounts of hostility toward tourists crowded into our thinking. On the spot we prayed to realize that God's loving care for His children was more present and more powerful than fears of antagonism and hostility.
Soon five rough-appearing young men approached, pointing at our flat tire and laughing loudly. We could not understand their remarks, and we continued praying as they drew closer. I knew that God cared for, guided, and protected allm His children, including these young men who were opening the doors to our car.
Then we realized what was happening. Four were getting good handholds on the vehicle in order to lift it, while another bent down to install the spare tire. Only after much insistence on our part would our jovial helpers even accept the few dollars we offered. And then in minutes we were on our way.
What kind of prayer gives one the conviction of safety? Certainly our prayers should be love-filled and love-motivated. And we bring a further dimension of effectiveness to our prayers when they're based on the spiritual facts of God and His creation. Even before my husband and I left home, our prayers acknowledged the fatherhood of God as the universal divine Parent. We prayed earnestly to free our ownm thinking from all fear and hostility, and from feelings of superiority or inferiority. When I was tempted to be afraid at the time our car was disabled, many spiritual facts flooded my consciousness. One was that because all of God's children express His nature, and therefore can only bless each other, I did not have to accept fear or hostility as a possibility.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesm Mary Baker Eddy n1 gives this spiritual meaning of the passage in the Lord's Prayer, ''And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors'': ''And Love is reflected in love.''m n2 To me, this statement demanded my love be called forth into action. That is, I knew I must love these approaching young men as God, who is Love itself, loved them. I must discern their actual selfhood as Love's very image, as the manifestation of their creator. As I did, I felt right then and there the Bible promise fulfilled: ''Perfect love casteth out fear.'' n3
n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discovered and Founder of Christian Science.
n2 Science and Health, p. 17.
n3 I John 4:18.
I also realized that verbal communication is not as important or powerful as is love communicated. The recognition that God, Love, is always imparting to His children the thoughts and ideas they need, gave me great peace in the face of our language differences.
Our experience may seem small when compared with the racial conflicts that confront mankind. But the prayers that can deliver one individual from danger and illustrate God's universal love can have a far-reaching influence toward destroying fear and hostility on a broader scale, thus helping to bring about love-filled solutions everywhere, for all. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? Malachi 2:10