Morning alarms, melodious music, loud horns of vehicles, tapping of computer keyboards, inspiring strains from a distant mosque – all sounds we hear in India every day. Some sounds are good, and some are not so good. Even in a quiet place when we are listening only to our own thoughts, we find they can be joyous and satisfied or worried and sorrowful.
Prayer is another kind of listening. Many people are accustomed to praying by talking to God – informing Him of a need and asking Him to fulfill it. But prayer also involves listening – quiet listening to God and obedience to Him.
People around the world have proved that listening to God and obeying the inspiration they receive from Him not only bless the listener but also families, churches, workplaces, and the community.
Even at times when we feel utterly helpless, we can pray, and inspired thoughts from God – His angel messages – will come and lift our thoughts to Spirit and to the spiritual answers that we need.
Insight into the nature of angel messages is provided in the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. She described angels in this way: "God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality" (p. 581).
At times of crisis, people have found that through prayer, restless thoughts can be replaced by quiet assurance. Divine Love (another name for God) can correct our thoughts, and its impartial outpouring of love can put us on the right path.
Sometimes fear, anger, or some other negative characteristics may seem to dominate our thoughts. Science and Health states: "Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent" (p. 89).
This may mean that we need to silence these other "voices" by recognizing that God's goodness is the only message we want to receive, and it is the only one that's relevant to our situation. As we silence the material senses, we will be better able to hear God's guidance and to see His goodness at work in our lives.
When we pray unselfishly for the community, that listening can lead to discerning a neighbor's need.
For example, people in the surrounding community of a home for orphans in Chandigarh often visit the home to donate money for food and other requirements. One day, a man was praying for the community, and he felt a strong urge to go there. He obeyed that angel message and visited the same day.
While he was parking the car, the woman in charge came running out barefoot and said, "God has sent you." They had been praying desperately as they needed money in an emergency situation. He immediately donated money and was grateful to witness a truth from the Bible proved in his life: "And 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" (Isa. 30:21).
Listening and obeying has never failed to bless anyone. Let us try to listen to the sweet voice of God speaking to us. Violet Hay put it beautifully in a poem that is also a hymn in the "Christian Science Hymnal" (No. 136):
I love Thy way of freedom, Lord,
To serve Thee is my choice,
In Thy clear light of Truth I rise
And, listening for Thy voice,
I hear Thy promise old and new,
That bids all fear to cease:
My presence still shall go with thee
And I will give thee peace.