Better Lives

WOULD you like things to go better in your life? Well, I've discovered that it is possible to improve everyday experiences through prayer.

For me, the best way to pray effectively is to open myself to God; to ask Him, in my heart, what I can do for Him. The Bible tells that God created everything and that He made His creation, including each of us, ''very good'' (see Genesis 1:31). What I keep asking God in my prayers is how I can do a better job of being who I really am-His very good image.

A couple of years ago I took to pondering a Bible passage from Psalms: ''The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me'' (138:8). I had probably read this passage hundreds of times, and I had loved how it sounded. I always thought it was just wonderful that God made everything perfect. But then one day I realized I needed to do much more than savor the words-I had to reason them through carefully so that I really understood what they meant. It was important for me to understand spiritual perfection and put it into practice, because there was a lot in my life at the time that seemed a long way from being perfect.

I knew it wasn't a case of asking God to fix up things in my life so that I would automatically get along with people, or find a job, or earn more money. God had made me spiritual and good. In His sight I was perfect and lacking nothing. From there I reasoned that my perfection was simply the result of God seeing me as the daughter He had created in the first place.

Then it came to me that if I didn't practice doing my own work more perfectly-improving my everyday tasks and also my attitudes toward other people-I couldn't expect to benefit from God's work. So I quit fretting about what other people were or weren't doing and got on with a lot of things I'd been putting off, like trying to accomplish some long-overdue character improvement.

I was helped in this by the following statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: ''Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds'' (p. 1). It was encouraging for me to realize that I could trust God and should not doubt His love for me. I saw that my desires-all those plans I kept making-could be ''moulded and exalted,'' until what was right for me to do would come into focus clearly.

Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy's discovery of God's law, helped me to understand that no matter what a bad situation appears to involve-conflict, the wrong job, no job, or anything else that needs improvement-God is there. He is perfecting our thoughts, and therefore our experiences. He is doing this by loving all that He has created. Confidently trusting my life to God, I began to find resolutions to my problems. This included the establishment of a home I had very much desired.

We each have our own job to do in this process: to keep in thought, as much as possible, an understanding that God is good. In the Bible, Paul told the Corinthians to do something along these lines when he spoke of ''bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ'' (II Corinthians 10:5). Critical thoughts need to be arrested and replaced with kind thoughts; procrastinating thoughts need to become ''do it now'' thoughts; indifferent thoughts must give way to caring ones. The task of arresting and perfecting-spiritualizing-thoughts does not end. It may sometimes seem demanding. But through my careful listening for God's guidance, I've found that it is possible to succeed at this task.

If things aren't going as well as you'd like, and your life could use some improving, try looking deep into your heart. Ask God what you can do for Him. That's the best basis for prayer that there is. And God is sure to answer, just as He answered me.

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