Prayer for Progress in Government
A spirituality.com chat with Bruce Fitzwater
Bruce Fitzwater is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science from Portland, Oregon. He has been in the work of healing spiritually for over 30 years, and was a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship for 11 years. Bruce has traveled widely, to many different parts of the globe. This text has been edited for readability. To read and/or listen to the whole chat go to spirituality.com/chats/government.
There’s a temptation to feel overwhelmed by the national and international issues facing us today because they seem so big and beyond ourselves. How can we overcome these feelings, which lead to apathy?
Turning to the all-power of God is certainly the fastest way to handle fear. I first gain a sense of God’s love for me and for the world, for its beauty and harmony. I think of that wonderful statement in Genesis, first chapter, where God sees everything that He has created, and, behold, it is very good. And with the strength of that conviction, I begin to realize that my personal sense of things is mistaken—that it’s my personal sense which needs to be transformed.
Mary Baker Eddy has a wonderful spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer’s statement “Thy kingdom come.” She wrote in Science and Health: “Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present” (p. 16). And then she went on to spiritually interpret “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” as “Enable us to know,—as in heaven, so on earth,—God is omnipotent, supreme” (p. 17). It’s not that God needs to change. It’s not that His kingdom needs to change. It’s the human sense of it that needs to open to God’s goodness and harmony.
Please address the problem of corruption in governments, worldwide.
I have a friend in Africa who wrote me when I was preparing for this talk. He’s involved in praying for his government. He said that there were three types of situations he focused his prayer on. One was simply places where there was no government at all. And he compared that to the first chapter of Genesis—the “void” and “darkness” on “the face of the deep.” And he thought of, and prayed, that God really was moving “upon the face of the waters.” He said he has begun to see people trying to organize themselves, starting street organizations and night watches to protect against criminals.
And then he began to take up this question of corruption. What he liked was this statement from Isaiah: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (40:4), that every valley of sin will be corrected. I think that praying to help politicians turn away from corruption or any other kind of laxity, is a way of blessing and loving our neighbors. And consequently, it’s not done with hatred or resentment. It’s done as a support, as a love, to realize that neither they nor the world can be profited by corruption.
Could you speak about how to balance the idea of special interests, which benefit one area or group, with the good of the whole?
There’s a statement from Mrs. Eddy that I have found to be a major theme, and it’s simply: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations, constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,—whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes, equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (Science and Health, p. 340).
When we acknowledge that there is one infinite God, good, unifying mankind and nations, then from that standpoint we can approach the appearance of partisanship, and recognize that it really is not part of God’s government. The sense that we have of a certain faction, or a certain interest group as being in control, is a false concept. God alone has power. The love of God has power. This is what one who is praying comes into—they come into a deeper and broader sense of where power resides.
I was traveling with my wife through an airport in Africa that’s notorious for its corruption. We had to go single file down a long corridor. And at the end of this corridor there was a highranking military man, who had a machine gun, and he had a large man on his left, and a large man on his right. He was demanding bribes from each person who went through. When I came up to him, I held my wife’s hand firmly, and he set his machine gun right at the base of my neck, on my collarbone. He asked for money. Now there’s a “special interest”!
But, you know, I can honestly say I’d been praying so much, that I had compassion for that man’s problems. I realized he probably was expected to support so many people at a level far above his salary. This was the way he thought he needed to act to get that extra money. I smiled at him, I said some loving thoughts, and I moved right on.
We can oppose evil in its subtle forms, we can oppose it in its bold forms, when we are acting in accord with our prayer. In this we can be effective. Now this is just a little drop, and if all the little drops fall, we have a fulfilling rain.
How can we help to unite our country? There seems to be so much emphasis in finding fault with the different parties in our government. How can we help to see that working for the common good is what’s important?
I go back to “One … God, good, unifies men and nations ….” I certainly found some time ago that when I endeavored to practice speaking the truth with love, I got along so much better with people, and things were so much more effective. Even when we have to tell people things that we think they may not like, if we do this with love, we find a greater receptivity. We find that we learn more ourselves, and we find greater change. The truth that we are all the children of one God is what gives us the vision and the hope and the spirit that there is one Mind here, and that sets us out to demonstrate it step by step.
When we acknowledge that there is one infinite God, good, unifying mankind and nations, then from that standpoint we can approach the appearance of partisanship, and recognize that it really is not part of God’s government.
How do you pray about the anger that seems to be handling many individuals in the United States regarding the passage of current laws?
The basis of anger often is a reaction to the belief that evil is real. It’s often a sense that there is something evil and powerful going on that one is afraid of and doesn’t feel one can deal with. There’s a wonderful statement from Science and Health that says: “Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so called despotism is but a phase of nothingness. Christian Science despoils the kingdom of evil, and pre-eminently promotes affection and virtue in families and therefore in the community” (pp. 102–103). By having a deeper sense that actually God is the power, that the goodness of God’s creation is present right here, we no longer react to evil.
When I think about evil, I sometimes envision a billiard ball on a big felt table, that bounces on one of the cushions, and then bounces off at a different angle. And then it comes off at a third angle, and fourth angle, and pretty soon you don’t even know which direction it’s going.
To me, that’s the way evil would work. It comes in with one belief, and then it comes forth with an angry reaction to that belief, and then bounces off to more trouble. It’s clear that when we don’t fear the power of evil, and we have a love to heal it, we’re able to stand, and mentally—and often humanly—speak the truth right where that sense of evil is claiming to be powerful. Show it its lie. But we do this in love. And we can do this in love without becoming martyred. We can do this in love with strength and clarity, with peace, with even being refreshed through carrying it out.
How can I pray to see progress from leaders who I feel have broken promises, and served special interests over my own?
I think one has to step back a little further, and recognize that you’re living in God’s kingdom. Your being is with Christ in God. Start with that freedom, and have your heart and soul informed by that freedom. Then bring life in God’s kingdom to bear on this issue about government. Where is the power? What are we thinking is power? Is it money? Is it a personality? Is it some kind of false ideology? This is where to acknowledge that power is Truth.
There’s a wonderful story in the Bible about Jesus after his resurrection, and it’s usually called the walk to Emmaus because Jesus joined two of the disciples on their way to that city. Their eyes were so clouded over by their concern that he had passed on that they didn’t recognize him. And yet, when he spoke with them, they said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way?” (Luke 24:32). And this “heart burning within us” is really what we can expect from everyone when truth is spoken, when it is understood. It isn’t just another statement. It is a reality and a power. And even while the human sense of government is improving, you can be free, you can live in dominion.
When I look at Mrs. Eddy’s life, particularly toward the end of her time in the first decade of the 20th century, I think she perceived there were problems with monoploy and problems in religion and government, but you can see she wasn’t afraid of these. She had a great sense of God’s ability and power to correct, to overturn. I think that’s how we should all live.
In living in that love, in living in that truth, we’re bringing it forth. We can live in harmony now, and we can be supporting it the best way possible—for the salvation of all.