A SMALL FLOCK OF SPARROWS was on the sidewalk up ahead. They were pecking in the dirt, looking industriously for food. They flew a short distance away as I approached.
I had some saltines in my pocket, and when I got to the spot where the birds had been, I stopped. They watched me with interest. The moment they saw the bits of white cracker in my hand, they moved forward, eagerly. They'd learned to recognize something good when they saw it, and were ready to go for it.
Goodness isn't always as clear-cut as crackers to a sparrow. Sometimes it seems hard to see what's good and what isn't.
Over the years I have found that prayer is a way of clarifying my thoughts. It enables me to set my priorities and to make sure that I'm not just trying to get my own way or to do something that isn't going to be good in the long run.
A prayer of Jesus refers to God as "Our Father which art in heaven." The Lord's Prayer, which he taught to his disciples, continues: "Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:9, 10)
These words convey a number of helpful ideas. First, if we think of God as being both infinite Love and our Father, then it follows that God loves us and wants what's good for us. When we pray to have His will done, we are submitting to a good plan for us. In other words, we aren't thinking of God as someone with a harsh, punishing will but as a loving Parent whom we can trust.
Yet God's good will for us doesn't necessarily mean getting every material thing that seems good to us. God's will is certainly for us to have what we need and will enjoy. But His purpose is expressed more in spiritual than material terms.
To see the practical effect of His love for us, we need to see ourselves from God's perspective - as His perfect spiritual children, whose motives and designs must reflect Him in nature. When we approach choices from that standpoint, we are lifting our concept of who we are, coming to see our true nature as children of God.
God is Spirit, and you are spiritual - full of confidence in a power greater than your own. God is Mind. This means that you have access to divine intelligence, reflecting it from Him. God is Love. So you are capable of expressing patience and care for others. Because God is the divine Life, you have unlimited energy and creativity. Claiming spiritual qualities as your own wipes away feelings of pressure, uncertainty, and confusion. It reminds you that you weren't made unthinking or ignorant. Through this line of reasoning, it's entirely possible to make inspired choices that enable you to do the most good in the way that makes you feel happiest doing it!
Many years ago, I was offered a job that gave me a chance to learn new skills and work with interesting people. It came with an increase in salary, too.
In other ways, my current job seemed equally good.
I prayed that "God's will be done," and I recognized positive things about the job I already had: it was global in scope, and enabled me to help many more people than I could in the new job, interesting as it sounded. I chose to stay put. Later I was even more happy with the decision because I found out that the new position lasted only a few months.
Defining our desires and making choices isn't always easy. But it's important. In fact, it's vital. According to "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by the Monitor's founder, 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" (pg. 1).
Yes, God does have a good purpose for each of us, without exception. It's through our spiritual intuition that we're able to discern that purpose, and go for it.
He is in one mind, and
who can turn him?
and what his
soul desireth, even
that he doeth.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society