The Monitor recently noted that the word “vote” comes from the Latin word for “vow.” For those of us in countries with democracies, there’s great power and beauty in making a promise to uphold our democratic process and the people who are willing to serve in it.
The commitment to pray for those in office cannot be contingent upon whether or not we voted for them. The extraordinary responsibility of leadership that our elected officials have assumed warrants the informed and alert prayer of the whole electorate.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy articulated a number of things serving to heighten the spirituality and moral strength of her country. When invited by the Boston Globe to share “a sentiment on what the last Thanksgiving Day of the nineteenth century should signify to all mankind,” she responded by sharing several spiritual ideals. Speaking of God as Truth and Love, she articulated those ideals: “the Bible better understood and Truth and Love made more practical; the First Commandment of the Decalogue more imperative, and ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ more possible and pleasurable” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” pp. 264-265).
Then her message pointed to these practical needs: “that the Christ-spirit will cleanse the earth of human gore; that civilization, peace between nations, and the brotherhood of man should be established, and justice plead not vainly in behalf of the sacred rights of individuals, peoples, and nations.”
Insights like that resonate in the hearts of many of us and can inform our prayers for our leaders. They speak to the true, spiritual nature of all of us, as we have been God-established from the beginning of creation (see Genesis 1:26, 27). This nature inherently upholds and praises God’s ever-ongoing government of all creation.
For many years I believed the way to forward the values I believed in would be through a career centered on politics and government, and during college I took off a semester to campaign for a rising young politician whose convictions echoed my own. Despite what I felt to be his worthiness to be elected, he lost overwhelmingly. I felt betrayed by the system.
In the middle of my shock and anger, I had a conversation with the candidate that’s worth remembering. He said: “You told me you wanted to work with us not because of me, but because of our shared ideals. Those values won’t go anywhere, and we simply have to find ways to commit to them in other arenas.” That kind of wisdom had a lot to do with his gaining a seat in Congress shortly after.
But it also proved prescient for me, as I found a very different arena in which to commit to forwarding peace, justice, and every individual’s sacred rights. After a short time in government service, I found my heart being called to the ministry of Christian healing as a Christian Science practitioner.
A key point in the theology of Christian Science is that divine Truth opens our thought to wider views and horizons of service as well as to the peace of knowing that God’s grace always enforces a blessing for all of God’s children. So when the news cycle impresses on me developments that seem contrary to what’s closest to my heart, it’s not a time for anger, frustration, or impatience. It’s a demand for consecrated and resolute prayer to understand how God’s power and goodness are working.
For instance, if we feel individuals are being disrespected, prayer helps us understand God, the great I AM, as distinguishing, honoring, and supporting the life purpose of everyone. When compassion seems to be abandoned, prayer upholds our conviction that God’s infinite love can reach all hearts that need tempering. And when what’s presented as truth seems to be warped to the advantage of one person or group over another, prayer can clarify the facts of divine Truth governing the entirety of God’s universal family.
There’s a Bible verse that gives assurance of the outcome of endeavors to lift our thoughts above partisanship to prayer that sees beyond competing values to the all-power of God: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).
This prayer of love binds our hearts to humanity, whether voters or leaders, in democracies and elsewhere. We can welcome the opportunity to prayerfully uphold the spiritual basis of civilization’s inevitable progress.