THERE is a common belief that you should talk out a problem and express your feelings. Talk is sometimes used as a way of "getting it all out," an opportunity to speak one's piece or to set the other fellow straight. This talk, meant to be helpful, can pose problems of its own. Relying on talk as a curative agent can lull us into thinking that a problem has been solved when in reality it has only been rehearsed.
Is there a better way? Most assuredly! We can pray. That is, we can turn to God, the Father and Mother of each of us, to show us the way. God doesn't need a lot of words from us, for He hears our heartfelt yearnings.
Christ Jesus gives us wonderful direction for prayer in Matthew's Gospel, telling us, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret" (6:6). By entering into the "closet" we close out all thoughts that do not come to us from God. We close out voices of anger, self-righteousness, recrimination, resentment, hatred, and loss that would undermine the foundation of spiritual reasoning. These erroneous thoughts have no power, because they do not come from God, who knows and creates only good. No matter how loud or subtle their voices seem to be, they are not real.
Each person's communion with God is individual and unique, but our prayer, our earnest desire to hear and obey God, always reveals a right solution. With his unerring prayer-based inspiration, Jesus always had the right words. He didn't tell the fishermen about sowing good seed or farmers about casting their nets on the right side of the boat. His communication was always in a form his hearers could understand. We too, when we pray, can trust God to give us the spiritual inspiration needed to communicate. The Psalmist prayed: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer" (Psalms 19:14).
Our prayer, then, might include thoughts like these: "God, help me to see that there is only one cause and one creator-You. Show me what change needs to be made in my thinking. I am grateful that You are constantly guiding me. I will listen only for Your voice, Your direction, and thus I will know what to say, when to say it, or whether to say anything at all." The Bible verse from Matthew that begins with Jesus telling us to enter into the closet to pray, ends with the comforting promise "thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (6:6). Harmony and peace are the inevitable outcome of trusting God.
In order for our words to be appropriate, they must also be timely. Rushing into unwise action or words, however, is no more timely than failing to act on God's direction. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, points out the need for obedience in her Miscellaneous Writings. She says: "God is the fountain of light, and He illumines one's way when one is obedient. The disobedient make their moves before God makes His, or make them too late to follow Him. Be sure that God directs your way; then, hasten to follow under every circumstance" (p. 117).
There are many reasons we should pray before we say. At the time of my divorce many years ago, three of my children, teenagers, decided to live with their father in another community. It was tempting to argue with their decision. Instead, I decided to pray before I said anything at all. I knew that the children were always in the presence of their Father-Mother God and that God mothered them wherever they were. I also knew that a caring God would never deprive me of my children's love. I turned to the Lord's Prayer and found especially helpful the part of the prayer that says, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). I maintained a harmonious relationship with all three children, a relationship which only grew stronger over the years. I can honestly say that today, and for many years, there has been nothing but the most loving and cherishing bond between us.
It is impossible to outline the way divine Love will meet each of our needs. But it does when we earnestly pray before we say. We can be confident that our prayers will be answered, and that God will certainly show us the perfect, loving, unerring course of action.