WHAT a world we live in! No matter how far away the person we need to contact, the possibility for an exchange of ideas or information today-be it written, verbal, or visual-is almost instant.
But, with all this advancement in communication, how quickly and how clearly can we hear from God? No telephone, computer, or fax machine can help us stay in touch with our Maker! I have learned that through prayer I truly stay in close contact with the source of all life, all good. God is not a faraway power whom we cannot always hear or who doesn't know what we need. He is ever present and omniscient. God and man are one in purpose and in action. The very function of man as God's emanation is to express His activity.
Communication with God, I've found, more than anything else involves opening our thought for His messages. It starts with humbling oneself by letting go of the uncertainty and doubt that can be so insistent when one is faced with a problem, and lifting up thought to a sense of man's unity with God and His goodness. It doesn't have to take hours or years to obtain this ''quality communication'' with God. The lines are always open.
Many years ago, my husband and I went to the top of a mountain for our last ski run of the day. Unknown to us, the snow had turned into ice. My husband said he would go down first, but within a few feet he fell and could not move. As I skied down for help, I found myself on sheer ice. It became impossible for me to continue. I could no longer see my husband, or anyone, for that matter. I became very cold and full of fear.
As I looked around, I knew the only help available was from God. I listened for His direction, and it seemed as though I heard a voice say to me, ''Would God turn a beautiful day into a nightmare?'' A message from the Bible came to thought: ''If you were to ask your Father for bread, would He give you a stone?'' This paraphrase of Christ Jesus' words in Matthew, ''What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?'' (7:9), reminded me of my spiritual oneness with divine Love. I knew with all my heart that God would never put me in, nor leave me in, a dangerous situation. With that acknowledgment, right in the middle of what seemed a cold, empty mountain, I truly felt safe and warm. I continued to listen for God's direction.
It strongly came to me not to try to ski down, but to be still and wait. This did not seem very practical, but my confidence in prayer made me obedient to the command. As I waited, all fear subsided and I was filled with love for all my surroundings. I wasn't aware of how long I waited until I was startled by the noise of a tractor coming up the mountain, and stopping right by me. After I told the driver about my husband, I was able to ski down the path the tractor had made.
My husband was brought into the emergency room of the ski resort, where he was advised to go to the hospital, as his shoulder was badly dislocated. Still listening for God's messages, I kept acknowledging man's inseparability from Him. To the surprise of the attendants, the arm was moved into a position that allowed the shoulder to snap into place. That evening the only aftereffect was rejoicing and glorifying God for His goodness and ever-present help.
Prayer may require faith, listening, obedience, inspiration, trust, and expectancy. That doesn't make prayer necessarily long or arduous, but it does stimulate thought and action in the right direction. Prayer makes one cognizant of the love, trust, and joy that are always at hand. As Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes forth hungering after righteousness is blessed by our Father, and it does not return unto us void'' (p. 2).
The book of Isaiah records God's promise: ''Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear'' (65:24). That's how quickly we can hear His messages.