SOMETIMES it is difficult to believe that God is relevant in day-to-day life. I have thought this at times. But since becoming a Christian Scientist, I have come to understand that when I pray, I really do receive God's guidance and direction.
Heeding divine direction takes trust and listening. Truly to follow God, we must have faith; the Bible says in Hebrews, ''. . . for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him'' (11:6). Seeking God means turning to Him as the higher power in all the details of daily living. It means acting according to divine impulsion-the intuitive sense of what is right. The sincere desire to do God's will (as opposed to what we may want personally) helps in recognizing His directives.
Several years ago my daughter needed a job for five weeks during a college recess. This job was important in helping her meet the tuition costs. She had spent one full day searching for a job, to no avail. Discouraged, she asked me to go with her the next day for moral support. I eagerly agreed, because I had been praying about the situation myself. Even though short-term, well-paying jobs were hard to come by, there was no doubt in my mind that she would find one through God's direction. I knew that our task that day was to follow the words from Proverbs ''Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths'' (3:5, 6).
Before we started job hunting, I had a couple of errands I needed to do. While we were in town for these, my daughter looked across the street at a children's toy store and exclaimed that it looked like a good place to work. I agreed that we should go there as soon as one other task was accomplished. But as I started forward, an impulsion came so strongly that it seemed like a voice: ''Apply for the job first.'' I must say that initially that seemed ridiculous. What possible difference could five minutes make? That was all the time I needed.
But I had learned that such an intuitive sense of what to do could certainly be a sign of God's direction-an answer to prayer. We turned around and headed straight for the store. While my daughter went in, I spent the time praying. Prayer had come to mean something much different to me than pleading with a sort of man-in-the-sky God; prayer had become an affirming that God is always good and ever present. My understanding of God as Love, gained from studying Christian Science, had made Him nearer, more of a friend. This understanding had brought healings and opportunities I'd never before imagined. I liked this new way of understanding God, in which man-including all of us-is His reflection and expresses His goodness. My prior belief in a punishing God had vanished, and prayer had begun to bring harmony to my life. This prayer was practical. Just now it eliminated my doubt and concern about financial lack, cycles of economic trouble, and my daughter's need for work.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and a follower of Christ Jesus, wrote an entire chapter on prayer in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Early on, the chapter says this: ''If we pray to God as a corporeal person, this will prevent us from relinquishing the human doubts and fears which attend such a belief, and so we cannot grasp the wonders wrought by infinite, incorporeal Love, to whom all things are possible'' (p. 13).
My daughter came back with a job. She told me that when she entered the store she stopped at the cashier's post to ask where she could apply for work. A man on his way out heard her and asked her to come his way. He was the manager, and was leaving that moment for a two-week vacation. He hired her on the spot. She was able to start work quickly and to earn the needed college money.
What a difference it had made to listen to God! If I had not been listening, that store manager would have been gone, and my daughter would not have found that good job. We later saw how the job was even more perfect, because the store needed extra help during the summers. This guaranteed future employment as well. Here was an example of how following God's guidance and direction blesses everyone.