Opinions and prayer
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Before the War with Iraq began, I spent lots of time trying to figure out how I felt about what was going on. One day I'd read a newspaper article and feel one way about things; then the next day I'd hear something on TV and change my mind. After a couple of weeks, I asked myself why I kept going back and forth and couldn't come to any stand on the issues.
I decided to be quiet and listen for God's direction. The answer I received surprised me.
What God told me was to stop trying so hard to form an opinion and to spend more time listening to the ideas He was giving me. That has changed my entire approach to dealing with the many war-related issues.
I haven't stopped reading or watching the news. But now I spend more of my time praying and listening for God's healing messages rather than trying to figure out my opinion. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The one Mind, God, contains no mortal opinions" (pg. 399). What the one Mind does include are powerful, spiritual truths that bring progress and healing when we are willing to acknowledge and love them and follow their direction.
The more time I spend listening for God's ideas and direction instead of getting caught up in my own or others' opinions, the more compassion and love I feel for everyone. And I feel more peaceful. Rather than disengaging me from the world, prayer engages me more constructively with it.
Committing myself to prayer doesn't mean that I never take a stand on an issue. It means that my focus, the majority of my time and effort, is dedicated to pursuing answers from God, Mind, rather than from the human mind. I have found listening to divine Mind much more inspiring and reliable than depending on the human mind.
A couple of years ago I was laid off from a job that I loved. Not only did I feel that this was a big mistake, but others told me they felt the same way. It was hard not to get bogged down in these strong opinions.
I tried to pray, but at first all I did was keep telling God what I thought - that this was not supposed to have happened and the timing was all wrong. Yes, I agreed that at some point I would leave this job and focus on something else, but I wasn't ready yet. Didn't God realize that? And on and on. I wasn't getting anywhere with this approach, and I desperately wanted to move forward. So I did a couple of things: I turned away from opinions - my own or anyone else's. And I turned wholeheartedly to God, divine Mind, to hear His direction.
The direction I received was to study a part of the Bible called the Sermon on the Mount, which is a talk that Jesus gave to his disciples (see Matthew, chapters 5-7).
One of the ideas I got from studying this sermon is that the kingdom of God is here now. Referring to Jesus' ministry, the Gospel states: "God's kingdom was his theme - that beginning right now they were under God's government, a good government!" (Matt. 4:23, Eugene Peterson, "The Message").
The idea that the kingdom of God is here and that I am being governed by God rather than by people was comforting and powerful. I had to decide whether God was in charge of my life, still governing, loving, and caring for me, or whether I was subject to what felt like a random or hostile action.
The Beatitudes, part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, told me that I was blessed by God rather than cursed by people or circumstances I didn't understand. The beatitude that meant the most to me during this time says: "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule" (Matt. 5:3).
Gradually, as I yielded to God's rule and let Him run my life instead of holding so tightly to my own opinion of how things should be, I began to feel more of God's love and presence. And I began to understand what was really going on: God had moved me into focusing more fully on work I had always wanted to do. Now I feel a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment. When we are willing to subordinate our human opinions to God's direction, we find progress and healing in our own lives as well as greater ability to contribute to the world.