One of life's challenges is learning to recognize God's voice. Cartoons often depict this by showing a perplexed person with a little angel perched on one shoulder and a little devil on the other. The angel and the devil are taking turns whispering into each ear.
How do you know which voice to listen to? Sometimes it's easy; most of us would never seriously consider heeding a suggestion to commit a murder or any other serious crime. But other times it isn't so easy to determine whether what is directing us is God's voice or just human will.
That's the time to listen carefully. Careful listening involves prayer. And at such times it may be helpful to remember the prayer given by Christ Jesus, the Lord's Prayer. There is a line in that prayer that states, "Thy will be done."
In praying the Lord's Prayer, it's good to remember that the words are "Thy will be done" and not "My will be done." Sometimes people are thinking something more along the lines of "My will be done-and leave me alone, God." In such cases, they probably will not be happy with the way things turn out! On the other hand, if you listen carefully and pray sincerely, God will reveal His perfect, happy plan for you. There will be a way to follow it. And you can rest assured that you will feel God's support as you follow it.
At the time of the war in Vietnam, I was of draft age. I had an important decision to make-whether to serve my country in the armed forces or to seek the status of a conscientious objector. After much prayer, in which I sought God's will for me, I decided to object rather than enter the military. It was not an easy decision, but I felt it was right for me at that time.
Once I had made the decision, though, another opportunity opened up. As a result I was able to meet my service requirement without being either a soldier or a conscientious objector.
This was not just a political decision that I made about Vietnam; I had decided to follow God's plan for me. In looking back I can now see that God was supporting me every step of the way. I knew what to do, not because of any wisdom on my own part, but because I had listened for God's direction and then followed it. It was an illustration of this instruction from Proverbs: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (3:5, 6).
Perhaps you are facing a difficult decision in your life. If that is the case, you may have come to the realization that you can't simply think through to the right answer. Thinking is certainly important, but thought illumined by prayer is truly powerful. Be prepared to be surprised when prayer leads you! The answers that come as you pray and listen will often be unexpected and new. This may seem alarming at first. But we can be certain that God's plan for us is only good, because God is good and He is All.
There must be a willingness on our part to learn of God. We must cultivate greater and greater trust in Him. Many young children have this kind of trust. In a way, it's necessary to be like a child in your trust of God. Jesus said this (see Mark 10:15). Behind all that Jesus taught are spiritual laws and rules, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy and called Christian Science.
Her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures says: "Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear,-this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony" (pp. 323-324). We can each pray to develop the attitude within ourselves that brings the harmony we want so much to feel. After all, it is really your "disposition," and not any given situation, that determines your happiness and opens the way for you to be productive.
As we come to hear God's voice more clearly, we see genuine, productive, irreversible progress. This progress brings happiness to us and to the people around us. It feels good to recognize and follow God's guidance.
The Christian Science Journal, a monthly magazine, contains in-depth articles on Christian Science.