An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
Falcon20Commander
Posts: 19
Joined: 02 Sep 2017, 21:56

An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by Falcon20Commander » 28 Oct 2017, 00:46

Greetings friends,

A man whom I greatly respect, who is LDS and resides close to where I live in MN, wrote this. It is on a .docx, but I don't know how to post such documents on this forum. I have copied and pasted it. Anyway, it is long, but it is good.


BEGIN ANSWER VS. RESPONSE ESSAY

An Answer to Prayer
vs.
A Response to Prayerfulness
(Paul R. Adams)

People frequently wonder, and frequently ask, “Does God really answer prayers?” Virtually all Christians have wrestled with that question, perhaps repeatedly. We want to believe that God will answer our heartfelt prayers, but that belief isn’t always supported by our personal experience with prayer. We can all identify prayers that were sincere, offered with as much faith as we could muster at the time, and yet the answer we sought did not come. Perhaps part of the difficulty arises in our understanding of what it means to pray, and what it means to receive an “answer” to a particular prayer. You will often hear people say that God always answers prayers, and they indicate that such answers take the form of yes / no / not now. Getting an answer to prayer sounds a bit “black & white”, it either occurs or it doesn’t (or you can assume receiving a “not now” reply). This appears, in my observation, to be the most common paradigm of prayer.

I see two serious problems with this particular paradigm. First, it seems to limit our perspective and understanding of God. Within this paradigm, we are not approaching the All-powerful, All-knowing Creator of the universe—instead, we are sending our wish-list to a Cosmic Santa Claus. We tacitly expect God to handle our requests, simply because we have made the effort of asking, and cloaked the request in prayer language. People may become frustrated, upset, or even reject God when their requests/demands are not met. The second concern is that such a paradigm limits our understanding, and our expectations, regarding prayer. God is not bound by our “yes, no, not now” expectations or perceptions—but we may find it difficult to identify “answers” beyond those preconceived notions.

To say that we are seeking an answer to prayer implies that a question has been asked, or a request made—and that is pretty consistent with how we generally pray—we are asking for something from the Lord. That is an appropriate form of prayer, and we are repeatedly invited in scripture to bring our needs to God. In far too many instances, whether or not we receive an answer to such prayers simply means, “Did God give me what I wanted?” If we get what we want, we assume God said “yes” and everyone is happy at one more indication that God does indeed answer our prayers. But what if the requested answer is not obtained? We can assume that the answer is “no”, or assume it is “not now”. But how does one really know? Frankly, there are other viable possibilities that come to mind when we don’t get what we wanted…

¬ Perhaps the most cynical possibility is assuming that God, as many believe, is merely a comforting myth—and prayers are only futile entreaties by the naïve and gullible which are flung into the emptiness of an uncaring universe.

¬ Could it be that our plea (or in some instances our demand, however disguised in prettified verbiage) is simply ignored, as parents may ignore a petulant child?

¬ Perhaps what we ask for is not realistic or not really necessary in the grand scheme of things—such as healing a grandmother dying from cancer, just so we can avoid the pain of her death. God my not actively refuse our request, may not say “no” to such a prayer, but simply allows the natural course of typical life-events to proceed unhindered.

¬ We may be living in a way that is too sinful for our prayers to be heard (see Isaiah 59:1). God’s silence could mean that we are currently not living a sufficiently righteous life for certain petitions to be granted. (This divine silence is always a loving response from the Lord, though unbidden and perhaps unwelcome. Furthermore, there will always be a companion response, if we are willing to hear it, calling our attention to the underlying root-problem in our behavior.)

¬ We are told in the “parable of the unjust judge” (Luke 18:1-8; D&C 101:81-92) that persistence in prayer is needed. How often are petitions “unanswered” simply because we quit praying when our prayers do not result in immediate answers to prayer?

¬ So many times in prayer, we not only petition for some “blessing” or another—we may quietly envision (in the secret recesses of our soul) what would constitute an “acceptable” answer. Even when the words, “Thy will be done” are uttered, how many of us are genuinely willing to accept an outcome contrary to that which we may quietly, secretly expect?

¬ God’s “will” may be to simply bless our own careful and thoughtful decisions about certain life issues such as, “Should I marry person A or person B?”, “Should I accept a particular job or not?”, “What does God want me to do with my life when I retire?” The Lord pretty much leaves those decisions up to us, because any of the possible options may be acceptable in terms of God’s ultimate vision for our mortal experience. Heavenly Father typically honors our personal choices and decisions rather than dictating them.

¬ Our perspective is so starkly limited in mortality that we seldom dimly glimpse what God envisions for us, let alone understand it. In our self-focused clamoring for “answers” from God, we may fail to see his responses to our deeper needs, particularly unrecognized needs.

To summarize—in far too many instances, whether or not we receive an “answer” to prayer simply means, “Did God give me what I wanted?” But prayer just isn’t that simplistic—nor is life. Sometimes we need more (much more) from our Heavenly Father. When we broaden the definition of prayer to make it more than merely asking things from God—when we define prayer as including many different prayerful experiences, our expectations change. When we see prayer as including “encounter” with God—when we add prayers of intercession, prayers of gratitude, or praying for spiritual gifts—when our definition of prayer includes moments of unburdening, and heartfelt requests that God facilitate our spiritual growth and transformation—we need more than a simple yes/no answer.

We need responses which may encompass a wide range of prayerful experiences with the Lord. God may surprise us—because such responses can, and do, take numerous forms. When Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon prayed together in the Kirtland Temple, it does not appear that they were seeking a simple yes or no answer to the prayers they offered up. They were simply coming into God’s presence, seeking whatever he might offer. Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants is a magnificent example of God’s unexpected response to earnest prayer.

We know from the scripture that God always hears our prayers. He is never too busy to listen; never preoccupied with other matters; and he never ignores us. He always hears our prayers. But Heavenly Father is not limited in how he may choose to respond to our prayers. He may on occasion give a clear yes/no answer. He may respond with silence. We may receive an impression that a certain course of action is needed. We may be led to the scriptures to find answers once given to others, now given anew to us. But there are no limits to how God may choose to respond. One of our challenges is learning to identify those heaven-sent responses, the vast majority of which will be quiet, unobtrusive, and private—noticeably lacking in the dramatic and spectacular.

Prayer is best understood in the context of God’s purposes for sending us into this mortal world. He summarized his own purposes very simply as helping all humankind achieve “immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39). Latter-day Saints often use the word “exaltation” to describe further the concept of “eternal life”. This ultimately means becoming Christ-like. There are numerous scriptural references to spiritual rebirth, the process that changes ordinary women and men into sanctified sons and daughters of God. We are called to become holy—which requires transformation of our very nature. We become partners with God in this process—our ongoing efforts to obey, to serve, and to love are essential. But only through the power of Christ’s atonement does God make us holy. Prayer is a vital element of our spiritual journey—but we need prayerfulness that includes far more than the simple petitions any child might utter.

For example, when we ask forgiveness of a particular sin, we don’t want a yes/no answer, and we don’t need angelic heralds trumpeting the good news of salvation. We already know that Heavenly Father is always ready to forgive the repentant sinner. We know that Christ’s atonement has already made that forgiveness possible. We aren’t seeking a yes/no answer to the question, “Will you forgive me?”. What we really want is a loving response from our Father that makes us feel clean, feel forgiven, feel loved.

Consider what might occur in the life of someone prayerfully approaching God seeking assistance in repenting of adultery. God is certainly going to help that individual. However, much more than a simplistic yes / no / not now answer is needed. For example, the following sorts of divine responses might be necessary in various combinations lovingly designed by the Lord to meet individual needs…

Our Heavenly Father might actually encourage more guilt as the person begins to confront the nature and extent of their own sinful behavior. In fact, this may be the first response we actually notice—and it is typically not one that is solicited in prayer. This sort of painful response is not done to shame the person, but to help them directly confront the unacceptable realities of their behavior, and strengthen their resolve to change.

An individual might be led to the scriptures, particularly those about repentance. However, another person in seemingly identical circumstances might need to spend time reflecting on those scriptures related to forgiveness and undeserved mercy. Yet another prayerful sinner might be led to ponder what the Lord has revealed about forgiving others as a prerequisite for being forgiven ourselves.

They might be prompted to prayerfully confess to the Lord, and also confess to an appropriate priesthood leader.

They may be prompted to confess to their spouse, and also seek spousal forgiveness for violating marriage vows and violating trust.

God could prompt them, in some instances, to seek forgiveness not only from their own spouse, but from the spouse of the person with whom they became sexually involved.

As they are led to prayerfully seek forgiveness from the Lord, this particular prayer may need to be repeated multiple times as God tests their heart to assess the genuineness of their repentance.

God might prompt them to identify and address corollary issues such as alcohol or drug abuse, pornography addiction, lustful thoughts, anger problems, or other factors that may have contributed to the primary sin of adultery.

The person might be disfellowshipped or even face excommunication, and will need assistance from the Lord to deal with the pain of such experiences.

God might lead them to a priesthood leader, a close friend, or a trained spiritual director with whom they can discuss issues.

God might lead them to a psychologist or other mental health professional to help identify some of the factors that led to the adultery, and also help them address the corollary issues that were contributory.

At some point in their spiritual journey, they will likely be led back to the scriptures, but this time to those about mercy and forgiveness.

Genuine repentance of such sin involves a long and sometimes painful process that will require the loving and sustaining arms of the Lord on a daily basis. On some days, God’s responses to prayer might take the form of comforting and encouraging a wounded soul.

The person will need prayer for strengthening and protection to resist further temptation, and withstand Satanic assaults that are sure to come.

As repentance progresses, the individual will once again be led back to the scriptures, prayerfully pondering the implications of the many scriptures related to spiritual rebirth, personal holiness, and the necessity for radical transformation of our very nature.

We are told in scripture that sometimes we will not even know what to pray for, “but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings [or sighings] that cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). At such times the most effective form of prayer is simply coming before God, coming just as we are at the moment—yearning from the depths of our soul to enter his presence—and remain silent.

It will readily be apparent in reviewing this list that simplistic yes/no answers are insufficient. The lifelong process of spiritual growth requires a wide range of responses from the Lord. Those responses cannot be limited to one-time yes/no answers, but require numerous loving and sustained responses over a sustained time of prayerful seeking and becoming. Since facilitating spiritual growth is part of the Lord’s self-appointed mission (Moses 1:39), every human soul will need more than yes/no answers from the Lord—we need ongoing and persistent responses to strengthen our weakness, support our sometimes feeble efforts, and encourage us during moments of heartache or discouragement.

As we follow Mormon’s prophetic admonition to pray for charity (meaning the “pure love of Christ”) and pray for this gift “with all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48), we are clearly seeking a powerful, enduring, and life-changing response from God. But his response may involve years of slow growth and gradual improvement, with ongoing prayer as part of the process—and such a response goes far beyond a simplistic answer. When we finally begin taking seriously the many scriptural invitations to undertake a personal quest for spiritual growth, becoming more holy and Christ-like, we need responses from the Lord that go far beyond simple yes/no answers—we need radical transformation. This requires opening our hearts to a far broader range of prayer experiences and divine responses. We must become much more adept at identifying God’s presence in the ordinary events of our daily lives. It appears that most of us also need to greatly expand our definition of prayer, which not only means identifying different ways of praying, but also becoming prayerful.

As we broaden our definition of prayer,
as we deepen our understanding of prayer,
let us also expand our expectations—
not merely hoping for limited answers,
but gladly and gratefully seeking to discern
God’s many and varied responses
to a wide variety of prayer experiences.


Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh receiveth;
and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
(Luke 11:9-10.)

Call upon me while I am near—
 Draw near unto me and
I will draw near unto you;
seek me diligently and ye shall find me;
ask, and ye shall receive;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
(D&C 88:62-63)


ASK— make a request for something, wanting to either be given something or learn how to obtain the desired end // inquire about something or question someone in order to obtain desired facts and information.

The scriptural blessing for asking is receiving a clear response,
or being granted a gift even better than what we requested.

SEEK— search for something, try to find or locate // strive for something, try to achieve or obtain it // consult someone in order to obtain help or advice // head toward some goal or objective.

The scriptural blessing for seeking is being led to that which was most needed, even if we do not obtain that for which we initially sought.

KNOCK— to strike loudly and repeatedly against a door, trying to gain attention or be admitted.

The scriptural blessing for knocking is doors of opportunity being opened,
or being brought even closer to the Lord.

When we ask, we are hoping for a particular response, hoping for a specific outcome. In such cases, the yes / no / not now answers may be appropriate and may adequately meet the need of that particular prayer moment. But many of our needs are too complex to ask simple yes/no questions and be satisfied with yes/no answers. Consider far-reaching questions such as, “Who is this man called Jesus?”, or, “What are the primary purposes of mortal life?”, or, “How can I best fulfill a particular call to serve?” When asking such questions we need, and typically hope for, a more meaningful response from the Lord (even if we cannot clearly articulate our need and hope). When we seek or knock, we are no longer limiting ourselves to asking questions. We definitely need more that a yes/no answer. We are generally hoping for a meaningful response from the Lord which is far broader in scope, and much more helpful than, a simple “yes/no” answer.

Most of us need to learn much more about different ways of praying, deepen our understanding of the multiple purposes of prayer, and learn to recognize more clearly God’s quiet, non-spectacular presence in our daily lives. For in truth, God does not always answer prayers. But he consistently, reliably responds in ways that facilitate spiritual growth and development, which is the primary purpose of this mortal experience.

One particularly helpful way of doing exactly this is keeping a prayer journal. Such a journal is not a diary of the daily humdrum events in our life. A good example of a prayer journal is the early record begun by Nephi. He was not writing the Book of Mormon when he began recording his spiritual journey, and began writing about how the Lord was present in the lives of himself and his family. Some of what he wrote is about dramatic spiritual experiences, but he also records events illustrating the quiet influence of the Holy Ghost that is far more typical of God’s responses to our prayerful yearning. Nephi wrote an account of his personal spiritual journey, how God was present in his life, and many different ways God responded to his prayerful knocking, seeking, and asking. He tells us that he wrote a separate historical account, but on the small plates, his prayer journal, Nephi said, “I write the things of my soul” (2 Nephi 4:15). One of his primary hopes in writing was that his prayer journal might someday benefit his family and their descendants (2 Nephi 33:3-4). Nephi was no doubt prompted by the Lord in his journaling, but had no idea that what he wrote would eventually become scripture for the entire human family. It was Mormon, not Nephi, who saw our day in vision and was led to select extracts from the Nephite records which eventually became the Book of Mormon (Mormon 8:34-35).

Writing a prayer journal can benefit us in several ways. As we record the responses to our prayerful knocking and seeking, we become more sensitive to the actions of the Spirit, we learn to hear the “still, small voice” more clearly. We become more aware of God’s quiet presence in the routines of daily living. We begin to recognize promptings of the Spirit more quickly, and act on them more readily and diligently. Faithfully journaling about how the Lord has lovingly responded to our seeking and yearning will eventually include moments of revelation given to us—and as such, it becomes a body of personal scripture. Not scripture for the Church or the world, but a scriptural record of God’s revelations to us as baptized saints who have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, and are promised the companionship and guidance of the Spirit. Writing the “record of my proceedings in my days” (1 Nephi 1:1) might appropriately include relevant aspects of our history (our spiritual journey), responses to prayer, the “things of my soul”, and personal revelations. Such scriptural accounts can be shared with our own posterity, as Nephi shared with his (2 Nephi 4:15-16).

Elder John Groberg, offers the following thoughts. “By writing personal and family histories, we are helped immeasurably in gaining a true, eternal perspective of life. Writing our histories with the proper blend of fact and feeling (and so often, feelings in spiritual things are the real facts) gives us a deep spiritual insight into the meaning and purpose of our lives. ... Writing our histories will certainly help us keep our eyes on the most important of all goals — even the goal of eternal life. ... There is something eternal in the very nature of writing, as is so graphically illustrated by the scriptures themselves. In a very real sense, our properly written histories are a very important part of our family scripture and become a great source of spiritual strength to us and to our posterity. ... I have a strong feeling that when this life is over, our personal and family histories and the influence they wield will be of much greater importance than we now think." (John H. Groberg, General Conference, April 1980). President Spencer Kimball stated, in General Conference, April 1978, that those who keep a journal “are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives”.

But even if no one, not a single person, ever reads anything of what we may write—we still benefit personally. As Brother Brad Wilcox shared in the September, 1999, Ensign, “If no one is going to read it, why write it?.... It is possible that no other living soul will ever touch my journal. My journal… could easily be destroyed in a fire. Yet the time I spend writing in it is not wasted. My personal journal is helping me become more like Jesus Christ and reach my highest potential. That is why I will continue to keep my journal—whether my grandchildren ever read it or not.”

END ANSWER VS. RESPONSE ESSAY

This was used with permission. I learned a lot. I think he is a gifted writer. Prayer is one of my weakest gospel principles I live. For me, it has been very hard actually trying to decently pray, but very worth it so far. Thoughts on this essay?

User avatar
Beefster
Posts: 483
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by Beefster » 29 Oct 2017, 10:24

:clap: I think it is very well written. I have, at times, struggled with whether God really answers prayers and I would say this gives me a new paradigm for looking at it.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5664
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by DarkJedi » 29 Oct 2017, 10:41

I found the time to read this during SM today (it was Primary program). I too struggle with prayer, and I agree the article is well written. But it's a little too orthodox for my own liking, and I found myself disagreeing with some of the teachings/beliefs. Nevertheless, I do see that it could have some value for others and particularly those who are stuck in the "yes, no, not now" idealism of answers to prayer.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 3442
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by nibbler » 29 Oct 2017, 11:03

For me that was a very orthodox take on prayer. I've heard most elements of the essay spoken at church over the years and it's something I wouldn't be surprised to hear during a general conference talk.

In the past this sort of essay would have been helpful and would fit with my spiritual journey. I don't find this sort of thing helpful to me personally, at least not today. Tomorrow, who knows. That' said, I can appreciate it's place.

It might be helpful to isolate portions of the essay to focus discussion. I know I have an issue with my attention span and the essay's length strained my ability to focus.

One thing I have trouble with... if I were to boil the essay down to a short phrase it would be, "Prayer, (if you don't feel like you're getting an answer) you're doing it wrong." and I know that wasn't the intent of the author.
We may be living in a way that is too sinful for our prayers to be heard (see Isaiah 59:1). God’s silence could mean that we are currently not living a sufficiently righteous life for certain petitions to be granted. (This divine silence is always a loving response from the Lord, though unbidden and perhaps unwelcome. Furthermore, there will always be a companion response, if we are willing to hear it, calling our attention to the underlying root-problem in our behavior.)
Gotta be careful with this one. The author offers up a list of reasons why our prayers might not be immediately answered... or how prayers might be answered but we don't recognize it. What if it's one of those wait it out scenarios where persistence is needed but we interpret it as us being unworthy of receiving an answer? What if we missed the answer and reach a similar conclusion, that it's time to put on the hair shirt because we must be unworthy of an answer? If the answers to prayer still elude us, what depths do we descend to in order to prove ourselves worthy of receiving an answer? This conclusion may be more common than we think. I know I've heard from many people at church where this has been their experience.
We know from the scripture that God always hears our prayers. He is never too busy to listen; never preoccupied with other matters; and he never ignores us. He always hears our prayers. But Heavenly Father is not limited in how he may choose to respond to our prayers. He may on occasion give a clear yes/no answer. He may respond with silence. We may receive an impression that a certain course of action is needed. We may be led to the scriptures to find answers once given to others, now given anew to us. But there are no limits to how God may choose to respond. One of our challenges is learning to identify those heaven-sent responses, the vast majority of which will be quiet, unobtrusive, and private—noticeably lacking in the dramatic and spectacular.
How do we know that god always hears our prayers, that god is never too busy to listen or is too preoccupied with other matters, that god never ignores us? We know from scripture? What convinced the people that wrote the scripture?

If the vast majority of answers to prayers are quiet, unobtrusive, and private—noticeably lacking in the dramatic and spectacular, it sounds like it's up to the individual to find meaning with whatever hand life dealt them. If that's the case, what purpose does prayer serve? People could skip that step and get a head start at listening to the silence until they find their meaning.
Prayer is a vital element of our spiritual journey—but we need prayerfulness that includes far more than the simple petitions any child might utter.
Why? Am I supposed to become as little children or not? Are we not all children in god's eyes? ;)

I'm being purposely obtuse here just to show that the essay is very orthodox in its approach to prayer. Sorry about that.

I'll borrow from Qingyuan Weixin. Before I had studied Mormonism for thirty years, I saw prayer as prayer. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that prayer was not prayer. But now that I have got its very substance, I am at rest. For it’s just that I see prayer once again as prayer.

I think this essay can help people see prayer as prayer. What of the people that see prayer as not prayer? What of the people that see prayer once again as prayer?
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.
― Rumi

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 653
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by dande48 » 29 Oct 2017, 15:15

I can also see its place among orthodox believers (as well as many other gospel teachings). If the perspective it brings helps bring an individual peace, hope, and fulfillment, I respect that. But it is definitely written for those with more faith in the Church than I have.


On the other hand, I can't say I agree with most of it. The big thing is, it is impossble to tell (as far as my experience goes) the difference between our reality, which claims that God hears and responds to our prayers, and a reality where He does not. If you pray for something specific, and recieve it, you can declare it as "God answer", despite there being other direct causes for the particular outcome. If you pray for something and don't recieve it, then it is probably because you were too sinful, or God had something better in mind for you, or wants to teach you a lesson. But in this instance, too, there are other direct causes for not getting what you asked for.

There's a saying in psychology, "What is focal is causal", or in other words, we tend to think what we're focused on is the cause for what is happening. This is especially true the more abmiguous a situation becomes. With the example of prayer, if you ask for $1,000,000, you are not going to get it. However, if you pray for a promotion, chances are you will get promoted eventually anyways. Or if you find a different job which betters your circumstances in some way, you can marked that prayer just as fulfilled. Or if you retire to full-time grandpa, you can thank God he gave you a "true promotion".

Another example. Lets say you pray to be more humble. As soon as you pray for it, you are focused on it more, and as a result you start to look for opportunities to be humble. And then you discover how really humble you aren't, and really make the effort to be more humble. And with all that effort, you can say God answered your prayer by helping you to be more humble.

I also don't think it's effective to blame the individual when their prayers are not answered; calling the individual's sinfulness or lack of faith will only damage and demean the individual. Lots of less worthy have recieved much greater temporal blessings. Lots of less "faithful" have recieved a greater measure of virtue and peace. Don't add pain to sorrow.

And with this quote:
We know from the scripture that God always hears our prayers. He is never too busy to listen; never preoccupied with other matters; and he never ignores us. He always hears our prayers.
I feel that is very good rhetoric. But an appeal to what one deems to be scripture doesn't cut it for me. It feels too close to "believe whatever feels good, unless I tell you not to believe it."
"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. "
-Albert Campus

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

Roy
Posts: 4729
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by Roy » 29 Oct 2017, 15:57

Thank you for sharing Falcon.

Everyone is at different point in their faith journeys.

Sometimes different circumstances/jobs call for different tools. Just because I am currently tuning an engine does not mean that I should call a hammer worthless.

OTOH, I generally concur with the feedback to refrain from giving "unworthiness" as a possible cause of non-responsiveness.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5664
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by DarkJedi » 29 Oct 2017, 17:39

nibbler wrote:
29 Oct 2017, 11:03
I'll borrow from Qingyuan Weixin. Before I had studied Mormonism for thirty years, I saw prayer as prayer. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that prayer was not prayer. But now that I have got its very substance, I am at rest. For it’s just that I see prayer once again as prayer.

I think this essay can help people see prayer as prayer. What of the people that see prayer as not prayer? What of the people that see prayer once again as prayer?
I can relate to this. Before joining the church in the dark ages I was a member of and regularly attended another church (at least in the months immediately prior to joining). In that church I never heard prayer referred to in the way it was in the LDS church. I wasn't much of a praying guy back then, but neither ministers nor members there really talked about answers to prayers. Prayers were said in church and it was clear that some members there prayed outside church. I had also visited other churches and made similar observations. Answers to prayers, indeed even asking for things in prayers, was a new concept to me at that point. However, I soon fell in with the LDS teachings on prayers even though I never really felt as though I was ever getting answers to my prayers. I chalked most of it up to the "yes/no/not now" thing, but it was always in the back of my mind. Then along came my faith crisis where it became quite clear that those other things, including some of the ideas expressed in OP essay, were just plain bunk (from my point of view). I stopped praying altogether for some time (years). Over the years I have talked candidly with members of other churches about prayer and it seems they are much like those I knew in my former church - answers as we seem to expect in the LDS universe are not something they expect or can even relate to. Today I'm not much of a praying guy, I don't ask for things in prayers, and I don't expect any answers when I do pray (which is not daily and sometimes not even weekly). I do sometimes (not always, but often) feel peace when I pray, but that's it. I suppose I could say as Qingyuan Weixin (and I don't know who that is) that I once again see prayer as prayer. And it's OK with me that it is what it is. And of course these ideas about prayer fit my more Deist view of God.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 3442
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by nibbler » 29 Oct 2017, 18:07

The teachings about using prayer to ask for things was a new concept for me as well. All these years later, I read Jesus' "after this manner pray ye..." and I wonder where this wish list/looking for answers to specific questions on life choices culture came from.

The restoration narrative that we place so much emphasis on has got to be a big part of it. Have we elevated James 1:5 to gospel hobby status? After all, we hardly ever talk about Jesus' "after this manner pray ye..." (which other churches often recite from memory during every meeting) but we all know James 1:5 from heart.

I think the practice reveals a culture that believes in a god that is more intimately involved in the direction of people's lives.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.
― Rumi

Roy
Posts: 4729
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by Roy » 30 Oct 2017, 09:28

nibbler wrote:
29 Oct 2017, 18:07
The teachings about using prayer to ask for things was a new concept for me as well. All these years later, I read Jesus' "after this manner pray ye..." and I wonder where this wish list/looking for answers to specific questions on life choices culture came from.

The restoration narrative that we place so much emphasis on has got to be a big part of it. Have we elevated James 1:5 to gospel hobby status? After all, we hardly ever talk about Jesus' "after this manner pray ye..." (which other churches often recite from memory during every meeting) but we all know James 1:5 from heart.

I think the practice reveals a culture that believes in a god that is more intimately involved in the direction of people's lives.
I agree with this. We believe in the restoration or resurgence of the God of miracles. At the same time we are a very independent, very DIY faith. We promote agency and an internal locus of control.

I believe some other Christian churches teach more of a concept of floating along on life's great river. We make choices along the way but we are also swept along to a significant extent. It seems to me that they tend to believe that God has a larger purpose for the twists and turns of the river. That even when it looks bleak, still we can trust in him. There is more of an element of surrendering to Him.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to these different approaches to faith.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15720
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: An excellent viewpoint on prayer...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Oct 2017, 19:45

Just to point out something important, the Lord's Prayer includes requests. If that is the model, there is nothing wrong with asking for things in prayer.

I don't like 100% the formulaic way we collectively pray, and I don't like some things that are requested in prayers I have heard, but generally asking for things in prayer is not something I mind.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Post Reply