After hearing news of the escalating conflict in the Middle East, I asked myself, “How do I pray about this situation?” Seeing the repeated images of tanks, car bombs, destroyed homes and civilians overwhelmed with grief was unsettling. Because I’ve seen how prayer, the recognition and understanding of God’s allness, heals, I wanted to pray about this situation — but how?
A few days later I found my answer in the Bible, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I read and study the Bible every day. Sometimes when I find myself a bit anxious or disturbed for whatever reason, I’ll open it up at random and begin reading. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy’s textbook on Christian Science, which is based on the Bible, especially the teachings and works of Christ Jesus, has helped me see that the Bible contains the keys of life.
In the book of Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount occurs after Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. He was tempted three times in escalating degrees of subtlety to renounce his humility, his spirituality, and to embrace his human will or presumed cult of personality.
Jesus’ temptation took place after he had fasted for forty days and nights. His understanding of the laws of God vanquished the tempter. Because God was the source of his being, and could not be tempted, Jesus couldn’t be tempted either. The temptation ceased when Jesus declared that he would only serve and worship God, Spirit.
Matthew records Jesus’ healing ministry beginning immediately after his temptation. Jesus demonstrated that he understood the source and power of life to be our Father-Mother, God. He understood life as spiritual, not material.
Not too long after he conquered his temptation, Jesus went up the side of a mountain to preach to the multitudes that were following him. He begins his sermon assuring everyone that they will be comforted, obtain mercy, have dominion, be peacemakers and see God. He tells them that they are blessed.
He then shows them how to pray. When I got to this part of the sermon, which I’ve read many times before, I was struck by the spirituality of his message, a message he recently proved by overcoming a temptation designed specifically for him.
Jesus urged his followers to give alms quietly, without fanfare — in secret. He told them, “Thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” He went on to say that when they pray they should enter into their closet (figuratively and literally), close the door and pray in secret and “Thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Then he gave them this prayer to pray, which we call the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Here’s the Lord’s Prayer recorded in the book of Matthew along with Mary Baker Eddy’s spiritual sense of it found in the chapter, “Prayer,” in “Science and Health”.
Our Father which art in heaven,
(Our Father-Mother God, all harmonious)
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
(Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present)
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
(Enable us to know — as in heaven, so on earth, God is omnipotent, supreme)
Give us this day our daily bread;
(Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections)
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
(And Love is reflected in love)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
(And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death)
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever
(For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over all, and All)
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of now. It acknowledges the kingdom of heaven, harmony, within us. It invokes the power and presence of God in the very midst of each and every one of us. Understood, the Lord’s Prayer is the truth of our being. I’ve learned in my study of Christian Science that this truth corrects perfectly whatever problem or crises I’m faced with.
I was reminded after praying with the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus taught his followers, that this is how you pray about the Middle East and every disturbance or conflict that begs for our attention.
One litmus test of a prayer is how it makes you feel. Are you quieted? Comforted? At peace? Do you feel the transforming power and presence of God? I felt all the above after praying this way and I will continue praying every day to see and know that God is here, there and everywhere.