Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Minyan Man
Posts: 1670
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by Minyan Man » 20 Nov 2018, 22:17

Our PH class last Sunday discussed the October 2018 General Conference talk by President M Russell Ballard titled:
The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead.
He talked about Pres Joseph F Smith & the D&C section 138.
In the talk Pres Ballard said the following:
During his lifetime, President Smith lost his father, his mother, one brother, two sisters, two wives, and thirteen children. He was well acquainted with sorrow and losing loved ones.

When his son Albert Jesse died, Joseph F. wrote to his sister Martha Ann that he had pled with the Lord to save him and asked, “Why is it so? God why had it to be?”

Despite his prayers at that time, Joseph F. received no answer on this matter. He told Martha Ann that “the heavens [seemed like] brass over our heads” on the subject of death and the spirit world. Nevertheless, his faith in the Lord’s eternal promises were firm and steadfast.
The part that struck me most was the highlighted portion. I wish more members & leaders of our church would talk about the struggles they've
had in life & how they overcame them. Maybe they have & I didn't hear it. We do it on a regular basis on this forum & it has helped me a lot. At the beginning of my FC I tried to pray & when I did, I felt clearly that the heavens were closed. Today I still have problems praying.

In your FC & your challenges in life has prayer helped you to overcome, understand why & strengthened your resolve to move forward? How?
I would like to get beyond this obstacle in my spiritual life & can't seem to be able to.

AmyJ
Posts: 883
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by AmyJ » 21 Nov 2018, 09:00

Following.

I don't pray really anymore (though a case could be made that I did not pray before the faith transition either). I pray in public as part of the social rituals of belonging in church and in our family. [And I would get labeled as a misguided heretic for stating it so clinically.]

I think in one of my faith transition conversations at/prayers with God, I laid it out as, "I am here and interested in what You have to say - but I no longer expect or even seriously hope for answers. And any communications need to be extra clear and may need to be repeated a few times because I don't believe I am getting everything You wanted to say from past or present leaders, and I don't completely trust myself to pick up on the message(s) You have for me perfectly due to current brain wiring configuration (which You theoretically designed/or at least are aware of). Until then, I will try to live my life charitably and avoid hasty, rash decisions whenever known and possible."

PRO: The sky did not fall on me nor did I get struck by lightning for my frankness.

My current belief is that prayer was a specific method of meditation/introspection/problem-solving used to "think out loud" as it were. So I try to make time to be introspective and problem-solve that way.

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 1443
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by dande48 » 21 Nov 2018, 09:38

There was a joke I posted on here a while back;
Once there were these two Rabis,
And as they were walking home, got into a deep theological discussion
By the end of it, they both arrived at the conclusion there was no God.
Disheartened, they both went home.
When one of the Rabi woke up the following morning, he was suprised to see his fellow Rabi out praying out on his lawn.
The Rabi asked, "Why are you praying? I thought we both agreed there was no God."
His fellow responded, "What does God have to do with it?
I 100% don't believe in God, but I still pray anyways. Acting as if a loving, wise, all-knowing being is there for you, has a plan, and all the answers still has benefits. My expectations with have shifted, as well as the meaning I apply to it. For me, it's mostly a way to think through things, meditate on them, try to gain a higher perspective, and sometimes just to vent. But I no longer take "inspiration" at full face value. Any guidance comes from within. I do not expect the universe to be altered, rewarded in heaven, or otherwise "blessed".

With my FC, it's been helpful to take a deeper look at other religions which we consensually know are false. Why did people worship the Norse, or Greek, or Egyptian gods? Why did they pray? What benefits were there? The old LDS answer of "they were decieved by the devil", and "they once had the gospel, but corrupted it", is complete hogwash to me. There is deep value in religion and religious rites, even if their foundation is completely false.
Last edited by dande48 on 24 Nov 2018, 13:13, edited 1 time in total.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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

Roy
Posts: 5640
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by Roy » 21 Nov 2018, 11:02

DW and I have talked many times about the perception of blessings. We have mostly concluded that individuals that perceive blessings in their life tend to have a more grateful and happy approach to life. I believe that regular prayer with the accompanying naming of blessings and saying thank you helps to increase this level of gratitude.
Minyan Man wrote:
20 Nov 2018, 22:17
Despite his prayers at that time, Joseph F. received no answer on this matter. He told Martha Ann that “the heavens [seemed like] brass over our heads” on the subject of death and the spirit world.
I find it interesting the qualifiers that are added to this statement. "received no answer on this matter" and "on the subject of death and the spirit world". Definitely makes room for JFS to be receiving answers on many other subjects. For some reason God wisely decided to withhold answers on this particular subject.
"He told Martha Ann that “the heavens [seemed like] brass over our heads”" This is even more interesting! [seemed like] is replacing another word or group of words. Given the context, I am willing to bet that the original word was "are" or "are as". President Ballard choose to soften the despondency and forsakenness that JFS felt.
Again I believe that this is because Pres. Ballard's thesis is that God was saving up for the right moment to reveal great and wonderful knowledge in regards to the redemption of the dead. It is not that God was not there, or that He was not listening, God - through His silence - was preparing JFS to recieve additional light and knowledge. In the narrative, the faith of JFS remains firm despite not receiving answers. Perhaps God was testing JFS or teaching him to walk past the limits of certain knowledge for a time. We should follow the example of JFS in our own trials.
This is certainly a valid way to order and interpret the events. All storytellers link together events in a narrative. This is just the way President Ballard chooses to do so.
"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

Roy
Posts: 5640
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by Roy » 21 Nov 2018, 11:17

In the first stages of my faith crisis, I did a lot of research on the fate of stillborn children and why bad things happen to good people in general. I was looking for certainty. I was disappointed that the church does not have a definitive doctrine on this subject - however I was mostly comforted that the church has been steadfast in the doctrine of the salvation of little children.

I found the talk by SWK "Tragedy or destiny?" and I was concerned. SWK asks the question if God has a purpose for bad stuff that happens or is it just bad luck … and he admits to not having the answer. This was hard because I had imagined that prophets, like JS said in several occasions, knew so much more about eternal things than they were ever allowed to reveal to the public.
Minyan Man wrote:
20 Nov 2018, 22:17
In your FC & your challenges in life has prayer helped you to overcome, understand why & strengthened your resolve to move forward? How?
This talk, "Tragedy or destiny?" is now one of my favorites. It admits uncertainty but then proposes a way to move forward in faith. I was once very uncomfortable with the uncertainty. I have gotten more comfortable with uncertainty since the begginning of my FC.
"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
On Own Now
Posts: 1736
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by On Own Now » 21 Nov 2018, 15:21

From awhile back:
On Own Now wrote:
08 Feb 2018, 10:18
One Atheist's perspective:

Religion, spirituality, scripture, repentance, thanksgiving, reconciliation, relationship with God/Christ, forgiveness, prayer... these have nothing to do with what is in yonder heavens and everything to do with what is in our own hearts. According to the author of Luke, Jesus said to the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God wasn't a distant future and glorious happening that would overtake the world by storm, but rather that "the Kingdom of God is among/within you."

For my part, I've come to appreciate spirituality without the need for a Divine Score Keeper. Sure, it'd be nice if God would come down once in a while to kick the butt of mean people or to help the faithful when they need it (both images of God in the Bible), but I can't control what God will do, I can only control what I do... my thoughts, my hopes, fears, interactions with others, my reaction to my circumstances.

I think one weakness that religions instill in adherents is the notion that we need God's approval for anything to have value. Conversely, I love the concept laid out in Moroni of the "Light of Christ", given to everyone to know what is right and good and to separate that from what is wrong and evil. "For the power is in us to be agents unto ourselves" to paraphrase D&C 58. The author of John tells us that that Jesus' advent into the world caused the beginning of a light in darkness which the darkness couldn't stop from shining for all people to see. In these passages, God is a passive force, and we are the actors aligning ourselves with what is good.

To me, when I pray, it is a vocalization of my gratitude for life and my hopes. That in and of itself is important, whether there is anyone listening on the other end or not.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 6606
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Nov 2018, 16:12

I don't pray in the traditional Christian or Mormon sense any more and haven't in years. I rarely pray. But when I do it's never to ask for anything because I don't expect to get anything even if I do ask. I do offer thanks, that's about it. Prayer was of no help to me during my FC, and was in fact part of my FC.
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
LDS_Scoutmaster
Posts: 264
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 23:30
Location: SoCal

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 21 Nov 2018, 20:35

I've had my prayers bounce off the ceiling, been in complete harmony with the cosmos, and everything in between, both when things were going well and when times were tough.

During my first big challenge if faith, I relied heavily on prayer for peace and absolution. I'm currently going through an existential crisis so to speak and it's different this time. I haven't played deeply about a lot of what is on my mind. I started writing it all down, it'll be a long read if a ever post it. Writing things down helps me to sort out my feelings and get my thoughts straight.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

Minyan Man
Posts: 1670
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by Minyan Man » 21 Nov 2018, 22:33

One of my favorite movies from a long time ago was: Oh God with George Burns & John Denver
At the end of the movie John Denver (Jerry Landers) is talking with George Burns (God) and the conversation goes like this:

Jerry Landers: Uh, sometimes, uh, now and then, couldn't we just talk?
God: I'll tell you what. You talk, I'll listen.

At this stage of my life, this seems close to the relationship we have. I wish it were different & more personal.

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 7099
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Challenges in life & the impact of prayer.

Post by Heber13 » 22 Nov 2018, 23:46

I think dande hit the nail on the head.

It has been my experience that the heavens feel closed to my prayers, and the worst time in my life when I really felt like "if not now...then I don't care about interventions ever"...led me to learn a lot of things about myself.

It seems everything with god and religion is all made up in our minds for whatever stories help us the most.

I also wish it was more intimate, more personal.

But it is what it is.

We end up deciding what works for us.

Despite all my changes in belief...I still seem to find some comfort believing someone up there is listening, even if I'm on my own down here to figure things out.

I seem to find a blessing now and again. So I try not to lose all hope and faith. It just seems to be more complicated than I hoped it would be.

God helps those who help themselves, and try to avoid the thoughts that God doesn't do anything.

I seem to go by that. And keep hoping.

Keep the faith, brother.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Post Reply