ONE morning I was stuck in a traffic jam that extended for miles. As the radio traffic report suggested an alternate route, I was ready to leap into action. Then I realized: I didn't know where the alternate route was. Sometimes our lives are like this. We know very clearly where we want to go. But even earnest efforts don't guarantee that we will achieve our goals. And sometimes when we get what we think we want, it isn't what we expected it to be.
In my own life I've found that the best way to make sure that we can achieve our goals, and that they really will be beneficial, is prayer. Prayer helps us to understand our relationship to God, good. Since God is Mind, when we turn in prayer to Him, we are turning to divine intelligence and foresight. This will enable us to look at our lives and our motives with new eyes. What is our ultimate purpose? Will achieving our goal be satisfying in more than merely material terms? How will it affect our inner lives?
Such searching of the heart can help us to clarify our priorities. Further prayer will actually help us to see what is worth setting our sights on. In the Bible, the book of Proverbs tells us, ``Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.''1 Making this commitment means trying to love God and man as Christ Jesus did. As this love takes root in our lives, whether our goals change or not, our approach to them will be quite different.
This shift comes about as the result of learning to know God and beginning to know that we are not merely mortals forever limited by physical or mental deficiencies. We are in fact the spiritual man of God's creating. Our potential for good is limited only by our reluctance to live in accord with this spiritual fact.
Our spiritual potential necessarily includes such God-derived qualities as intelligence and wisdom, goodness and joy, integrity and love. Thinking of ourselves in more spiritual terms begins to free us from limitations, whether these involve health, appearance, age, or some other factor. It also helps us to give up undesirable character traits such as selfishness, willfulness, and fear. These -- and other negative elements -- would seem to hide the spiritual qualities that are actually our true nature. To live in accord with God's purpose, we do need to let the undesireable traits go. Our growing understanding that the spiritual is what is real will show us the way.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points up the importance of looking beyond materiality in this statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind? We must look where we would walk, and we must act as possessing all power from Him in whom we have our being.''2
I have seen over and over in my own life the value of prayer that puts our lives into spiritual focus. Doors have opened that had been slammed shut; people I didn't know came to my aid; and in some cases I was saved the heartbreak of striving for goals that really weren't worth pursuing. As we ``look where we would walk'' and turn our lives toward spirituality, we find a clearer sense of God's direction and of our true purpose. The mental or physical ``traffic jams'' that would keep us from our goals begin to fade away, and we find the road ahead free and clear.
1Proverbs 16:3. 2Science and Health, p. 264.