Living and Growing: Prayer that supports ethical government

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2007

How to pray about the current ethics problems facing Alaska's Legislature? This was a question I was considering last week after the indictments were handed down to a current legislator and two former legislators. I am accustomed to turning to God in prayer about problems confronting me, because I have found that prayer has a healing effect, whether the problems concern physical ailments, work-related issues or relationship difficulties. So I took the time to be quiet and listen for God's messages.

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What came to me was a recent photo that appeared on the front page of the Juneau Empire of Rep. Andrea Doll giving a hug to Rep. Vic Kohring. To me it was a picture of compassion.

Regardless of the guilt or innocence of these individuals, compassionate understanding of the ethical issues confronting current and former members of the Legislature is needed. Keeping them in our prayers will support them in doing the right thing. Unethical behavior has no place in the Alaska Legislature or anywhere else, but compassion, mercy and forgiveness are necessary attributes in working with mankind to heal the ills that trouble society.

As a former teacher in middle school and high school, I have dealt with many students that needed discipline. It was always my position to love and support the child, but also address and, hopefully, eliminate the deviant behavior. I taught many students who had done wrong, and while I condemned the improper behavior, I could still encourage and honor the good qualities the student expressed. This is what came to mind when I saw that newspaper photo.

Jesus visited the house of Zacchaeus, a hated tax-collector who was very rich. The Master did not do this because he condoned his behavior but in order to heal him. Zacchaeus repented and agreed to pay everyone back fourfold (Luke 19:1-10).

I feel it is my duty to follow St. Paul's exhortation that "...supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (I Timothy 2:1,2).

So how did these thoughts shape my prayers? I began with a prayer of affirmation, knowing that "God is love" (I John 4:8), and that He is "the governor among the nations" (Ps. 22:28). I acknowledged that this all-encompassing Love was embracing everyone at the Capitol, supporting their good work, giving them intelligence to enact wise legislation and purifying their motives. I prayed that as I see more of God's nature appear in man (men and women), then the opposite characteristics of dishonesty, corruption and misconduct must disappear. In my prayers, I held fast to the truth that God, Love, is all-powerful and ever-present.

As I concluded my prayers that day, I expressed gratitude for God's loving care for His creation, for the unselfish and dedicated lawmakers Alaska has had over the years that have helped shape the government of this state, and for God's continuing guidance of those in authority as they courageously lead us through these challenging times.

Although this was my prayer last week, I continue to pray for our government. The last verse of a poem by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science guides my intentions:

"My prayer, some daily good to do To Thine, for Thee; An offering pure of Love, whereto God leadeth me."

• Beverly Smith is a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Juneau.



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