Responding to God’s guidance

When a difficulty arises, turning to God in prayer is an empowering first step. And as a man discovered after becoming ill, heartfelt receptivity to the divine inspiration we seek has tangible healing effect.

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A prayer often begins with our words to God. Then, as we listen in our heart for God’s reply, the prayer might become a sort of conversation. Or maybe it’s a time of quiet, expectant receptivity. Either way, time and again I’ve found that answers to my prayers do come, often in the form of fresh insight, a new, comforting view of things, or even a wordless feeling that all is well.

I’ve also found that how we respond to what God provides us in prayer makes all the difference. I’ve always been impressed by the Bible’s account of how the Virgin Mary responded when God said, “Fear not, Mary,” and then informed her that she was going to give birth to a baby boy, Jesus.

In those times and in that culture, unmarried pregnant women often faced serious consequences, so God’s news to Mary could have been frightening. Mary’s response, though, has a more heartening spirit: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). And indeed, despite the difficulties that came up along the way, Mary remained safe and gave birth to Jesus, and the world has never been the same since.

The way Mary allowed her thought and perspective to be guided so completely by God can be an example for us today. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, explains in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind” (p. 162).

It’s not willpower that brings about this change of base. It is a divinely impelled yielding to God – the divine Mind, Love, and Truth – that stirs our thoughts, melts fears, and heals.

Recently I became ill. I went right to God in prayer. This is the guidance that came to me: to acknowledge how God made me, and particularly, to love how God made me.

I wanted to give myself over without reserve to God’s guidance. Jesus taught, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20).

Even in the face of my concerns and discomfort, this didn’t seem impossible – a mustard seed is so tiny! I pictured how a compass has 360 degrees. As you look around the edge of its dial, each degree of change is very small, but together they make a full circle.

So step by step, in mustard seed-sized increments, I engaged with the spiritual facts of creation, of our identity as God’s children. The way God has made me – and all of us – is distinctly spiritual. As the spiritual offspring of the Divine, we express God’s perfect, invulnerable nature.

As I consciously embraced these spiritual truths, it felt so natural to deeply love God so very much for how we are created spiritually, as the expression of God’s flawlessness, not as mortals susceptible to illness.

Immediately, my fear began to melt, until it had evaporated. And quickly I felt like myself again – healed entirely. I didn’t stop going in my prayers, though. For the next several hours, one degree at a time, my love for God just grew and grew. It was a stirring and wonderful change of base that not only healed me physically, but deepened my spiritual understanding, too.

God’s guidance to Mary centuries ago – “Fear not” – remains so relevant for us all today. When we pray, we can listen carefully and receptively for divine inspiration, helping us understand why we need not be afraid anymore. Even if it’s just in mustard-seed-sized increments, we can yield up conceptions of ourselves as vulnerable mortals and turn to God’s healing guidance. We, too, have the right to experience the blessings that come when we agree, “Be it unto me according to Thy word.”

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