Do you sometimes operate under what I call the football theory? It works something like this: You pray for God's direction. Then when you get what you feel is His guidance, you rush forward as though you've been passed a football, only to have your feet knocked out from under you!
What happened? Does God answer our prayers, and if so, how? How do we know the difference between mortal will and the divine will?
Prayer in the truest sense is not merely hoping for an answer from a distant Being - or receiving an answer and then proceeding as though we no longer need God's help. Prayer of the deepest kind includes an acknowledgment of divine reality, of the one perfect, omnipotent Father of us all, and of our perfection as His spiritual offspring. It involves the consistent exercise of spiritual sense.
It is our innate spiritual sense that enables us to understand God's direction. Mary Baker Eddy n1 writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God.''n2 This sense is not, then, a passive, blind faith but an active, conscious faculty that enables us to understand that God is in control and that His will for us is only good.
n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n2 Science and Health, p. 209.
We often feel God's direction expressed through an inner, gentle calmness, outshining fear and anxiety. This calmness is not a weak acceptance of fate but an inner strength that rests on an understanding of God's law of good. Even a small understanding of divine law shows forth in fewer wrong decisions and more harmony. And if we feel we've made a wrong decision, God's law can correct whatever needs to be corrected. Our job is to humbly follow His direction as far as we perceive it.
Once I prayed to make the right decision about a move to another city a great distance away. It seemed to me this was the right thing to do, so I made plans to transfer to another university in this new city. I withdrew from my present university, gave notice for my job and apartment, and set about to make the move. Soon after I had taken these steps, I was notified that because of overenrollment, the new university was not accepting any more students. I didn't know what to do next, so I turned to God again.
With great humility I prayed to understand that I was not a mortal separate from God, making my own decisions and consequently suffering from them. I knew that as God's child I wasn't really a mortal at all, but His spiritual image. I opened the Bible and read these words: ''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.'' n3 This comforted me by pointing to the fact that God tenderly and unceasingly governs His creation. I affirmed that I could hear God's direction.
n3 Isaish 30:21.
I began to feel at peace. I had no idea what decision to make but began to realize that I could trust God to direct me one step at a time. New people for my job and apartment had not been found yet, so I was able to continue in both. I then reenrolled at my university, missing only a few days of class time.
God's wisdom and care were revealed to me in many ways during the following year. I was given a promotion in my job and received a full scholarship from the university to continue my studies. I also enjoyed some wonderful friendships, which continue to bless me.
We can discern God's direction in our lives. No matter what our situation is, our prayer to see God's uninterrupted care is rewarded, for He never abandons us , even if we should temporarily feel this is the case. Mrs. Eddy writes, ''Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.'' n4 God is directing us - moment by moment!
n4 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5, 6