IF someone we respect offers us advice, we're likely to pay close attention. Do we also listen to God that way?
Perhaps we thought He wasn't speaking to us. Actually, God is always expressing intelligence and wisdom universally. As we acknowledge this, we find ourselves listening more attentively and expectantly for God's guidance. We pay less attention to the opinions and circumstances that picture us as separated from God, outside of His care and control. And we find that He is speaking to us, is directing us, right now.
When problems dominate our thinking, our attitude may be like that of a person who prays by telling God all about his troubles. But this isn't the attitude Christ Jesus taught us to adopt when we pray. He said, as Matthew's Gospel tells us, ``Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him'' (6:8).
The first chapter, ``Prayer,'' in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, helps us to understand prayer as Jesus taught it. We don't have to get God's attention or explain our problems to Him. In Science and Health the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science points out: ``The `divine ear' is not an auditory nerve. It is the all-hearing and all-knowing Mind, to whom each need of man is always known and by whom it will be supplied'' (p. 7).
What God, divine Mind, knows is not our problems but our spiritual nature and perfection as His children. God knows the harmony He has established and always maintains, and as we humbly listen to Him we hear the thoughts that bring our thinking and our experience more in line with God's direction.
A challenge I faced during my first weeks on a new job illustrates this. The workload seemed very heavy. I was working well into the evening nearly every day. One night, after about three weeks of this, I was distraught about the apparently unrelenting burden I was carrying. I began to pray, acknowledging that God governed my living and working. It then occurred to me that if I had too much to do, I must be trying to do something God had not given me to do, for God would not create a circumstance that causes suffering.
I reached out to God with a question: ``Father, what am I doing that You haven't given me to do?'' I felt very ready to give up any activity that I didn't need to be doing! Then I heard the answer. It came with the sense of authority and spiritual peace that I've learned to recognize as characteristic of God's messages coming to my thought. I was indeed doing something that God had not given me to do: I was worrying.
That was hardly the answer I expected, but I knew it was the truth. My fear that I might not be up to the demands of my job dissolved, replaced by an awareness that whatever abilities, wisdom, and stamina might be required at work would be provided by God. I realized, in fact, that God had already provided these qualities, but that I had not been fully recognizing them. This change in my thought from worrying to trusting God and recognizing the good qualities He was enabling me to express eliminated the burden I had felt. The long hours at work continued for several more weeks, but I no longer felt pressured or burdened by them. A little later I realized that I had learned to complete the work without spending such long hours at it.
Whenever we're faced with a problem, we can find the answer by listening to God. As we acknowledge His goodness, wisdom, and infinite ability, fears and false views drop away. We find ourselves recognizing more clearly God's harmonious government of our lives. Listening wholeheartedly to the all-knowing divine Mind, we hear what we truly need to hear, and we feel the joy of living consciously in the presence of God.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5