Suppose you were considering moving from where you live now to a new place, and you asked some friends for advice as to whether or not you should make this important change. Some might give you very good reasons why you should move, while others could have well-thought-out opinions about why you shouldn’t. After hearing a lot of well-meant advice, you could end up more confused than ever.
Many people—including me—have found that a helpful approach to decision-making is to stop and ask God, divine Mind, for guidance. Even if we’ve already been flooded with opinions, it’s never too late to turn to God wholeheartedly with a desire to follow His leading.
How, specifically, can we identify the direction God is guiding us to take? Prayer helps us find an inner stillness that opens our thought to the love and care of God. It enables us to feel God’s presence and peace. In this glow of God’s goodness and love, it may come to us that one option feels a little more right than another. Or that, for now, we should just wait.
What’s important, I’ve found, is an honest, unselfish desire to obey Mind’s guidance. “The Christian Scientist,” states Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, “wisely shapes his course, and is honest and consistent in following the leadings of divine Mind” (p. 458).
It’s not about asking God, “Where can You put me so I’ll be the wealthiest, or the most content?” When the motive is to be as useful as possible through expressing God’s love—whatever direction that may take us—we often end up helping others and experiencing blessings in ways we may never have imagined.
I experienced this when thinking about where I should go to college. I prayed to know where to go that would not just benefit me, but would enable me to bless others, too. Listening for God’s guidance made all the difference. I felt inspired to choose a particular school, and when I got there, I ended up discovering a tremendously interesting major that, in the decades since, has helped me no end in serving God through helping others.
Listening for God’s guidance made all the difference.
Christ Jesus once referred to being about his Father’s business (see Luke 2:49). Later, at perhaps his most challenging time, he prayed, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He always let God give him the plan and then depended on God for the strength to follow it—rather than making some plans on his own through human will, and then asking God to bless those plans. (I’ve found that this can be a quick way to get into a mess!)
Pure, prayerful motives do much to free us from human will and prompt us to look more and more—even exclusively—to God’s, good’s, disposal of events.
That’s not to say that if we didn’t get that job, apartment, car, etc., we wanted, then it means that God’s goodness is only coming to us sometimes. We have all of God’s goodness now. It’s always infinite, just as God is. Jesus explained that the kingdom of God is within us. Its level-of-goodness “dial,” you could say, is permanently set at “unlimited.” The changes that happen in life can’t stop God’s love. God, divine Life, is our wonderful and true Life and expresses in us complete, spiritual goodness, without reserve, no matter what. And the humble desire to know God better as divine Life and Mind is powerful prayer that opens the door to inspired decision-making.
That’s not to say it isn’t sometimes a process. If you had to walk through a big building, going in the front door and then out a side door, you likely couldn’t walk in a perfectly straight line between the two doors. You’d have to make some turns—probably several of them—to reach your goal. That’s how prayer for guidance sometimes works. We may be led to go in one direction for a while and then to make a turn in a new direction. But, trusting and following God one thought at a time, step by step, we make progress.
The Bible puts it this way: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). I love to think of God as our best friend. He loves and nurtures us. We can often sit down beside the “still waters,” as the Bible’s twenty-third Psalm puts it (verse 2), and listen to what God is telling us. What He says—His divine inspiration—helps us to overcome challenges and confusion. When we look at Jesus’ example, it’s clear that he constantly submitted his will to God’s. And as he listened for divine guidance, he found in God all the strength and direction he needed.
That same willingness to serve and be guided by God that Jesus felt can certainly be our deep willingness, as well. Following the Bible’s counsel, understanding that God’s will for His creation is wholly good, you too can trust in Him—not just with a small portion of your heart, but “with all thine heart”—and “lean not unto thine own understanding.” Then, “in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).
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