BOSTON — Ten minutes to go before we have to leave the house. The baby is still in bed, and my daughter announces that she can't find her ballet slippers.
Irritated because she has obviously been playing dress-up with them and not put them away, I tell her to start looking, while I scramble to get ready to go. A five-minute search, including the dumping of toy boxes, turns up nothing. What a rotten way to start the day!
At this point, however, I take a quiet moment to listen to the One who knows everything. I set aside my parental frustrations - and the accompanying "I told you so's" - to take this as an opportunity to learn a lesson. A lesson in listening to and turning to our Father-Mother, God, the all-knowing Mind.
Immediately, a clear idea comes to look under my bed. That seems silly. What would my daughter have been doing with ballet slippers in my bedroom? I start to recheck an area of her own room. But then I feel guilty for not at least acting on the idea I heard. Again, I feel directed to look where I am now - but also under my bed. Another second of looking turns up one slipper in my daughter's room - and, yes, one under my bed.
Good luck? I don't believe so. During my life I have seen and heard of too many situations just like this one not to think that even day-to-day activities are amenable to prayer; governed by a higher power. God is an active ever-presence through all of our daily activities. I've found that as I acknowledge more that there is one universal, good Mind, and listen more for its direction, I have experienced greater harmony even in the little details.
Is it frivolous to pray about such things? After all, if a pair of ballet slippers had remained missing it would not have been any horrible misfortune. She could have danced without them. More to the point, however, it would have made a rocky start to our day, causing me to worry because the teacher had made it clear the kids should have slippers. It would have put stress on my relationship with my daughter until she found her slippers.
Prayer helped all of this to be avoided. But far more important than that, acknowledging God's reality and power in everyday situations builds conviction that this all-knowing Mind is there when we face bigger issues.
The assurance of Christ was that "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of" (Matt. 6:8). Jesus had practical things to say about all of life's problems, big and small. He said prayer could move mountains. He made it clear that prayer applied to everything from feeding a multitude, to finding money to pay taxes, to healing a disease. One book that explores Jesus' works says that his very life was evidence that "divine Love [God] always has met and always will meet every human need" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, pg. 494). Not some needs. Not just the big, world-affecting ones. But all of them.
Each morning I find it is helpful to take some time and quietly realize, be aware of, God's presence and His power to control that day's activities - to see that the perfect, all-loving Mind is directing and leading each of us to exactly what we need to think and say and do, and therefore that this can never involve conflict or failure. When facts like these are clear to me, I can more readily subordinate my own planning and efforts to God's guiding. With this approach, there's not so much brooding over the problems. There's more waiting on God. That's when events fall into place most smoothly. The difference is obvious, even on the busiest days.
Prayer makes it easier to see that we can never be in a situation where God is not present and is not giving us direction. He is with us every moment of every day! The next time you find yourself in a big or small situation where you feel frustrated and don't know what to do, take a minute to listen for what God is telling you. It may come as a specific direction, or simply as a reassurance that there is a higher intelligence governing. Either way, there will be less stress and worry, and more peace and harmony.
Articles like this one appear in 13 different languages in the magazine The Herald of Christian Science.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society