AS a businessman, I spend much of my time just listening. Advice, counsel, opinions, responses to questions, pour into my office daily. Sometimes the guidance they bring is excellent. Often, however, what one hears seems at the end of the day to have been merely a collection of flawed views. With important decisions to be made, that kind of listening can seem a waste of time. It's just not good enough when we need something better, when what we really want is unprejudiced direction from the highest, wisest authority. In such cases, it seems natural for many to turn to God in prayer for guidance. This requires listening of another kind. In the ninety-first Psalm we find this divine promise: ``He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.''1 To hear God clearly, we must first silence our own preconceived notions and also step away from human opinions. Listening in prayer for God's thoughts silences confusion and enables us to hear His unerring direction. It is clear that Christ Jesus was listening to God for guidance at every step of his career.
In listening for spiritual direction, we need to pray with a deep self-surrender. As we let go of human perceptions entirely, our thought is lifted to a spiritual altitude where we can hear what we need to hear.
This was proved to me in a wonderful way many years ago while I was developing an important project. I learned on a Friday that I had until the following Monday to raise a very substantial sum of cash to save the project. Another investor was planning legal steps to acquire the entire project for himself. New equity to buy out his interest, our only alternative to being taken over, had to be found that weekend. Everything I heard that day only increased my frustration and fear. I left the office, walked home, locked my gate, disconnected the telephone, and just prayed. At first all I could hear was my own thoughts, shouting at me. But I promised myself not to stop praying until I had freed my thought of resentment, anger, and fear. I read the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,2 especially citations that dealt with listening to and obeying God.
I prayed into the night and woke early on Saturday to pray again. Soon I felt entirely calm and safe. I asked God to guide me, and almost immediately I felt clearly directed to drive at once to a city two hundred miles away. I wrote down the names of the three people I knew who lived in that city, and their telephone numbers, and called my office to say I would be gone until Sunday.
When I arrived I called the least likely name first, a very casual acquaintance. The other two names were prominent business people. The acquaintance and her husband invited me to lunch, where I explained my project and then reluctantly reviewed the problem my company faced. They looked at each other and smiled. They told me of a family trust fund that had just matured, a tax need for a rapid reinvestment of these funds, and the sum they had available. It was the amount we needed. They investigated our project and gave me their check the following week. It was just in time to save the project, which became very successful.
Listening and expecting to hear what we need to hear are in the direct line of demonstrating God's power to guide us, since the final step is to obey what divine direction is telling us. In the Christian Science textbook Mrs. Eddy writes: ``The effects of Christian Science are not so much seen as felt. It is the `still, small voice' of Truth uttering itself. We are either turning away from this utterance, or we are listening to it and going up higher.''3
The spiritually resonant thought or idea is a right idea and will not mislead us. We hear it when in humility we say sincerely, ``Father, I am listening.''
1Ps. 91:15. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 323. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21