Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Answers to prayers

Why are we sometimes frustrated or doubtful about praying to God?

I cannot speak for others, but can add some personal reflections.

My suspicion would be that there are people who are honest enough about themselves to understand why God would not respond to their personal prayers, though these may be uncommon. This is where I usually count myself. If my prayers don't work it certainly isn't God's fault. I generally apply Mark Twain's model as presented in Huckleberry Finn to help understand why my prayers fail -- "You can't pray a lie." Twain's wisdom, illustrated through Huck Finn's experience, is an insightful glimpse into many attributes of human nature.

Huckleberry Finn on prayer -- recommended. You Can't Pray a Lie

I will also acknowledge that I am not expecting to change the order of the universe simply by taking the thought to ask. It would seem that one of the prerequisites for granting prayers is that my request has to be in accordance with the mind and will of God. The essence of successful prayer seems to be in asking for the right things. I believe Elder Eyring touched on this point in his conference address.
Heavenly Father, it doesn’t matter what I want. I don’t care anymore what I want. I only want that Thy will be done. That is all that I want. Please tell me what to do.  (Henry B. Eyring, As a Child, Ensign, May 2006)

For those of us who have on occasion dedicated our most fervent pleas, as in the case of asking for God to heal the sick, the nature of answering seems very different from the case where someone found their glasses through divine guidance. Where I prayed and people died anyway, I found assurance that the passing of loved ones was will of God, and that in the sight of Heavenly Father, the death was neither an unforeseen tragedy nor an untimely event. While my prayers did not save the life I prayed for, they did return a greater understanding that helped me through the sense of loss and mourning. In this I suppose I trust Heavenly Father to bless me with what I need, not necessarily what I ask for.

If that is not an answer to prayers, I don't know what is.

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