It was such a simple question that it caught me by surprise. Homework was a big focus in my life at the time, and I was stressed by the sheer volume of work, when a friend gently asked, “Why don’t you pray about it?” I realized that I tended to categorize situations into “things to pray about” and “things to take care of myself.” But in doing so I sometimes shut myself off from listening for and experiencing God’s guidance. So I decided to take my friend’s advice. I prayed quietly for receptivity to God and immediately felt assured an answer would come. The Bible explains that God is all-knowing; He understands our needs. By turning to all-knowing, divine Mind, God, for direction, we open our hearts to recognize and accept His wisdom and loving support.
In my prayers I felt led to take an honest look at my motives – at what was really compelling me to undertake these studies. It’s easy to get wrapped up, without realizing it, in superficial things such as trying to impress a teacher or earn a high grade, but life has a deeper purpose than that. I saw that the more compelling reason for my studies was to honor and serve God and to love His children. God is Love. We are the image and likeness of God, and our true, spiritual nature reflects every quality of Love. Because God is Love, He is merciful and just; His spiritual guidance and lessons are designed to bless and strengthen us, not to weigh us down or set us up for failure. So I could trust that God was providing me with the strength, grace, and intelligence to complete each assignment.
I also saw that time was not a god to be worshiped or feared. An old hymn by Josiah Conder says, “Lord, my times are in Thy hand” (“Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 46). What I needed was not more time, but a spiritually ordered approach, under God’s direction, to each day’s activities. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, explains: “Eternity, not time, expresses the thought of Life, and time is no part of eternity. One ceases in proportion as the other is recognized. Time is finite; eternity is forever infinite” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 468-469). And “The objects of time and sense disappear in the illumination of spiritual understanding, and Mind measures time according to the good that is unfolded” (Science and Health, p. 584). This idea that good is always unfolding reveals a spiritual capacity within us to do all that we need to do.
Christian Science teaches that God is Mind, and God is infinite. Because there is only one infinite God, there must only be this one infinite Mind that is everywhere. As God’s image, teacher and student both reflect this one Mind, so you could say that the same Mind expresses in each of us the order and wisdom to do the right thing at the right time. Thinking about my homework from this more spiritual perspective lifted me right out of a sense of pressure and planted me firmly in a mental place of trust and spiritual poise. I still had a lot of homework, but I could accept that it was doable. It felt like more of a joy and less of a burden. Each day I made more of an effort to pray, to perceive what to do first and how each activity should be accomplished, and to expect a natural balance and harmony in the unfoldment of each day. That sometimes resulted in doing my homework first. In other cases it meant spending a reasonable amount of time with friends and taking breaks now and then. I made efforts to express more patience and grace, and to spend a little less time outlining how the work should be done from my own personal view. This was such a helpful and natural adjustment in my thinking.
Over the years I’ve thought many times about the simple question my friend shared with me: “Why don’t you pray about it?” I’ve found it helpful to consider Jesus’ advice to his students, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). Putting prayer first leads to the solutions we’re looking for. How wonderful to know that Love is right there, gently whispering in thought the guidance we most need to hear.