Listening must be selective and undistracted if it's to serve its purpose. How can we learn to listen more discriminatingly? One way is through prayer, which heightens our sensitivity to all that's wise and good.
Most people associate prayer with asking God to help them when they are in trouble. They expect God to listen and answer their call because of the magnitude of the trouble or the amount of their words. But if everyone listened to God more habitually, a lot of the troubles would be averted.
We all have an innate responsiveness to God, though we're not always awake to it. Through prayer we need to listen to divine direction and be willing to follow it. In the words of the child Samuel, we might say in response to God's messages, ''Here am I.'' n1
n1 Samuel 3:4.
The Bible implies that God is divine Principle, the only genuine lawmaker. We can also see from study of the Scriptures that our creator is infinite Love, the one Mind. Whenever we obey the prompting to be honest or just, we are saying in effect, ''Here am I'' to Principle. When we do something loving, we are responding to Love. When we are expressing intelligence, we're responding to divine Mind. It's almost as if God were saying aloud to us, ''Be honest,'' or ''Be loving,'' or ''Be wise,'' or whatever else is appropriate, and then enabling us to implement the command.
Following through comes naturally when we understand that our true selfhood, created by God, is His likeness and is therefore receptive to divine direction - in fact, inseparable from it. Man isn't truly a mortal, operating independently of God. He's not separate from his divine source, either enjoying an illusion of self-sufficiency or feeling confused from listening to conflicting opinions. Instead he is spiritual, immortal - created, directed, maintained, and motivated only by God. We can increasingly prove this as we listen more consistently to divine Mind.
Christ Jesus listened to God constantly. And he taught his followers the essentials of prayer. He told them, ''When thou prayest, enter into thy closet.'' And further, ''When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.'' n2
n2 Matthew 6:6-8.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, referring to Jesus: ''To the students whom he had chosen, his immortal teaching was the bread of Life. When he was with them, a fishing-boat became a sanctuary, and the solitude was peopled with holy messages from the All-Father.'' n3
Retrospection and Introspection, p. 91.
Can we really expect to receive these messages today, even in crowded, noisy cities? Yes, if we remember that divine Principle is timeless and invariable, and that the Christ, the eternal, saving Truth, is always present to penetrate the clatter of materialism. Divine Love's comfort can be felt in any predicament , however poignant it may be. Divine Mind's direction continues to be unerring, not because of the urgency of our need but because of Mind's own all-inclusiveness.
We can succeed in detaching ourselves from the strident sounds that would shut out these silent spiritual reassurances. Then we can go back refreshed to handle today's demands more confidently. The same irresistible Christly power that Jesus taught and embodied is still at hand, ready to awake us to the palpable presence of God. Our need is to be receptive. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. . . . cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherin I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. . . . Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God; thy spirit is god; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalms 143:1, 8, 10