One of my favorite podcasts has a segment within it called “Not my job.” The host brings experts onto the show to quiz them about something that has absolutely no relation to their expertise whatsoever. So if they get every answer wrong, it’s funny, and no big deal, since it wasn’t really their job to know the answers in the first place.
How can this apply to prayer? Prayer helps delineate between what is and isn’t our job. Often the struggle we experience with spiritual growth is the result of taking on something that really isn’t ours to do.
For example, a few years ago, I found myself up late at night mulling over a decision that needed to be made for one of my kids. I felt eager to make the right choice and responsible for my child’s future, which seemed dependent on the decision. My prayer was a deep desire to know the right thing to do.
But suddenly noticing how much I’d been focusing on the specific outcome, I took a mental step back. In my journal, I wrote, “It is not my job to …” and then I had a list of things such as worry, ruminate, overanalyze, control the result, or feel in charge of someone else’s success (or failure). Then, I thought, “What is my job?” And I came up with a different list: respond wisely, listen, trust, be patient, and feel confident of present good as a foundation for future good.
Christian Science says prayer brings us into harmony with the “Science of being” (see Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 2). Rather than being a hope for a particular future result, this prayer strives to know what is already present, spiritually, even if we don’t fully perceive it yet.
Clarity about this spiritual presence comes from understanding fundamental truths of our being. And yet often prayer doesn’t go deep enough to grasp these truths. When we focus primarily on an outcome, we are trying to use prayer as a means to an end. Instead, as we follow the teachings of Christ Jesus, prayer brings to light the Godlike nature of each one of us. This brings us into the harmony of our true being. And the effect is a clear sense of direction, even when we still don’t know the outcome.
From this perspective, then, it’s not our job to use prayer to plan, plot, problem solve, figure out, or make something happen. It is our job, when seeking a spiritual approach to healing, to feel the presence of spiritual good, right where we are. To step out of definitions of ourselves that include limitations on time, opportunities, and resources—mortal-based definitions. Turning from limitation, willfulness, and personal effort to an awareness of God, divine presence, enables us to experience a deep calm and peace, no matter what we have going on.
We can discover more about our Godlikeness in Jesus’ teachings. For example, he said, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:11). As God works, these works show through us. Jesus showed us his spiritual oneness with divine Love, God, throughout his ministry so we would be able to discover our own oneness with this Love.
It is our job to accept being loved without measure by the one God who is infinite Love and who continually reveals that we are infinitely loved. This is not a far-off future reality. It is a present fact of our true existence. We are inseparable from this infinite, divine presence of Love. And so are our children and loved ones. Actually, God’s love is present for everyone, always.
It is not our job to try to make others feel this love, to fix them, or to control how they think about us. Yet we can change how we see a situation, or remove ourselves from it. As we strive to live the light of Christ, this light touches others. But it is always the divine influence in their consciousness that brings about real change. Our job is to follow the leadings of this influence in our own consciousness and trust that our example, more than words or will-power, is enough.
There is an immediacy to our individual oneness with God. While the human mind may struggle with spiritual understanding as something difficult to attain, the reason we can grasp our spirituality is because it is the way we have always existed in relation to God. God, as eternal Life and Love, is the source of our being and has never stopped upholding us. God impels our spiritual understanding. It’s not our job to bring something into being that isn’t already there. It’s our job to see what God has already created and is revealing to us.
If we notice a tendency of our prayers to regularly focus on an expectancy of future good, this can tend to postpone the realization of present spiritual perfection. This present moment holds all the good we will ever need and shows us our completeness and wholeness, now. And, it provides a basis for future good, but it’s not our job to wonder about the future—or to ruminate about the past. It is our job to accept the magnitude of divine goodness occurring right in this moment.
As I grasped this that night, I relaxed about the decision for my child. I trusted that the good of today would provide the foundation for the good of tomorrow. And my job was to celebrate this good and let it lead me step by step.
Science and Health has this to say about what it is our job to do: “The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation” (p. 3).
Our job is to see what God has already done. And then to experience that completeness more and more fully. What a great promise for this new year!
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