SOMETIMES we may wonder if our prayers are being heard -- and it may seem even more challenging to know what God's answer is. Most would agree that the preface to all prayer is the longing to lead a better life, the desire to walk more closely with God. We need to be sure that we are listening and obedient in our daily lives -- not just going our own way and asking for God's help only when we want Him to get us out of trouble.
Christ Jesus told his followers, ``When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.''1 Referring to the Master's teaching, Mary Baker Eddy2 writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The Father in secret is unseen to the physical senses, but He knows all things and rewards according to motives, not according to speech.'' And she says further, ``We must resolve to take up the cross, and go forth with honest hearts to work and watch for wisdom, Truth, and Love.''3
But where do we look for God's reward? How can we tell when He is answering our prayers?
During this past year I found that my prayers were answered in three distinct ways. Although I felt that some changes were needed in my life -- and a move seemed a possibility -- I wasn't really confident about what the right change would be. My fears and uncertainties led me to study the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings and to pray. For several months I strove to listen for divine direction, to be humbly receptive to God's will.
One day as I was reading the Bible, an answer came from the book of Exodus. God says, referring to the Israelites, ``Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.''4 It almost seemed the words were being said aloud. The thought was clear: not only was it right to make the move but God had the place already prepared for me!
Another decision, though, still needed to be made. I wasn't sure of the best time for the move. Because it would mean leaving a job and moving to a distant place without any idea of what myemployment might be, timing seemed important.
One day while taking a walk, I was thinking about God. As a Christian Scientist I had learned that Mind is a term for God implied in the Bible -- that God is infinite, omnipresent Mind. I also knew that in yielding to the parent Mind I could find the right ideas, the answers, I needed.
And that's what happened that day. I had been endeavoring to yield completely as I walked along, to turn prayerfully to God. And again the answer came. Some might call it an intuition. It's natural to expect spiritual intuitions, divine Mind's leadings, as we understand and acknowledge something of our actual, spiritual identity as God's child, as Mind's idea.
The course of action that came to me at that moment proved to be the basis for a harmonious move. I was so grateful for this intuition and for all of the God-inspired thoughts that can come to each of us as we seek to do His will.
When I arrived at my new home, I began looking for a job in what seemed like practical, effective ways. I felt that I knew what kind of job was natural and right and took steps to find this type of employment. But something quite unexpected happened. After a couple of weeks, through none of my own efforts, I was offered a job in a surprising way, a position that at first didn't seem to be what I was looking for at all.
Still, I had learned in other experiences that we can be led forward by the unfolding of events. The Bible tells us, ``Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.''5 Even though I wasn't sure about accepting the job at first, the circumstances were so obviously God-sent and God-directed that I knew I just couldn't refuse. And the job and my new home have proved to be just the right answers to meet my need.
Does God talk to us? Yes. As we strive to follow Christ with honest lives and to listen with humble hearts, we receive the guidance we seek. Through the wisdom and comfort of Scripture and through spiritual intuitions from the all-loving, omnipotent Mind, the answers come. When they do, we share in the lovely assurance of the Biblical promise ``Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.''6
1Matthew 6:6. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 15. 4Exodus 23:20. 5Psalms 37:5. 6Isaiah 30:21. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be still, and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10