Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Two "Easy" Ways to Get Answers to Prayers

Back in my days at BYU, ahortly after gatting married, I was quite happy to be part of a local "city ward," the Provo Ninth Ward - Hugh Nibley's home ward, in fact. Soon I had a home teaching companion, a young man in his 20s who had grown up in the Church. After we visited a family and had a basic discussion of some Gospel topics, he turned to me and asked if I had ever received an answer to prayer. The question surprised me, for I assumed that any active LDS person would have answered this queston affirmatively, but an answer to prayer was outside his experience. I found this very sad, and tried to offer some suggestions--not sure I was of any help.

I've since found that there are plenty of long-time Latter-day Saints throughout the Church who are not so sure that they've had an answer to prayer, in spite of serios efforts to live the basic teachings of the Gospel. There are some who have said they prayed to know if the Church is true or not and didn't get what seemed like an answer. Others have prayed for other legitimate things without evidence of an answer. I admit that recognizing the Spirit and sensing answers to prayer can be difficult, and often requires persistence, fatience, and faith. But I think there are a couple of areas where answers to prayers are much more likely to occur rapidly and sometimes with dramatic testimony-building results.

In my experience, the "big" things that I've prayerd for often don't get the miraculous answer I was hoping for. Nations hostile to the Gospel are not opening their doors in response to my prayers. Corrupt politicians and big money men destroying the freedoms and finances of this nation remain in power. War still rages, often unnecessarily. Cancer victims are usually not miraculously healed because of my prayers. And even my hopes for global warming here in Wisconsin are being dashed even as I write.

There have been a couple of areas, though, where prayers seem to be answered easily and sometimes rather swiftly. Sometimes with amazing results. Nothing is "on demand" or "sure-fire" and patience and faith are always important, but some approaches seem more fruitful than others if you want to experience the results that prayer can bring. Easy-bake prayer recipe #1 is mentioned in the following excerpt from the last General Conference, in the talk "Repent ... That I May Heal You" by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event. It is not easy. To change is difficult. It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."18 Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is "re-turning" toward God.

How do we decide where our repentance should be focused? When a loved one or friend suggests things we need to change, the natural man in us sometimes pops up his head and responds, "Oh, you think I should change? Well, let me tell you about some of your problems." A better approach is to humbly petition the Lord: "Father, what wouldst Thou have me do?" The answers come. We feel the changes we need to make. The Lord tells us in our mind and in our heart.

We then are allowed to choose: will we repent, or will we pull the shades down over our open window into heaven?
As he said, the answers come when we turn to God and ask for guidance on our own personal repentance. "Lord, what am I doing wrong? Where can I do better? How can I improve? What sins do I need to remove from my life ASAP?" When I manage to humble myself enough to ask this question, sometimes with the help of others who help me see past my pride and recognize some glaring faults, a sincere prayer can open floodgates of personal revelation. Real revelation, not just fuzzy warm feelings. The Lord seems to have some very strong opinions about our behavior, and seems more than willing to chime in with guidance if only we'll open our hearts and minds for His answer. "Thank you for asking! Here are some priorities for now . . ." If we act on those promptings, it can begin a series of events where it will become increasingly clear how close the Lord is and how anxious He is to help guide us through the trials of mortality. Repentance always brings us closer to the Lord, and that process is one of the most dramatic ways for people to experience answers to prayer.

The second "easy-bake" route to receiving answers to prayer is to pray for guidance in how to help someone else. Not praying for their problems to miraculosly vanish (feel free to do that, though), but praying for guidance regarding the things within your scope of inflence. What can you do, make, give, or say to help another person, especially those you have a responsibility to help? Listen, ponder, study the scriptures, and pray sincerely, then act. You may be surprised at what can happen when you seek to be on the Lord's team and serve others. There are numerous small miracles waiting for you as you try to listen to the Lord and look for the right things you can do to help those around you. These can be true testimony-building experiences, even in painful settings.

Today in a talk in church, I shared an experience that happened shortly after we moved to a new city. I was assigned as a home teacher to a less active man who years later would become one of the people I respect most, one who would later do more to help me in the Church than almost anyone else. I had worked hard to get him to commit to a time when my companion, Tim, and I could visit. The appointment was set, and now I was supposed to meet up with Tim and go visit him. I called Tim, and there was no answer. Called a few more times, but no answer. I was worried. I felt that Tim needed a positive home teaching experience also for his benefit, and a key opportunity was about to be missed. The event seemed important enough to me that I felt a need to pray about it. I said a short prayer asking the Lord for help, explaining that I had done everything I could to help these two men with this experience today, and really felt that it needed to happen, but I couldn't reach Tim. I felt that I should simply call one more time. I went to the phone, dialed Tim's number, and soon heard his voice. "Tim? This is Jeff." "Jeff, how did you reach me? My phone is broken - I can call out, but I can't receive calls. Or at least the phone doesn't ring when people call me. I was just picking the phone up to call someone else, and you must have called then." Such a small little thing, a tiny coincidence, a matter of lucky timing - but to me, it was one of a multitude of small miracles we may experience when we turn to the Lord for guidance about what we can do. I'm not talking about changing His will about the timing of when we or someone we love dies, or changing huge currents of life and society. Wars still rage. Good people still suffer tragedy. But we can find the hand of the Lord in seeking to know what we can do in whatever setting we are in, whether it is something as small as helping a fellow member with a visit, or sometimes something much more dramatic. Stay open to the possibility that God can guide us in our daily events, in spite of seeming indifferent to many of our big requests, knowing that He cares and as His purposes. There are no guarantees - I've had numerous disappointments of all kinds when trying to help - but when we seek and watch for the help of the Lord regarding what we personally can do to help, this may be an area ripe for answers. But start with #1, seeking to know what we should be doing to repent. That's just abot the fastest way, in my opinion, to encounter the Divine.

18 comments:

JoLyn said...

Some really great ideas. I had never thought of receiving personal revelation like this. But you are right. And I think if we are seeking revelation in these ways, then when it comes about other thins, we'll be much more open to it--and we'll recognize it. Thanks!

Molly in the Jello Belt said...

That's a really good post. I agree with you, and have had personal experience with the first one - praying to know where I need to repent. That was pretty overwhelming.

Pops said...

I often receive answers to prayers in the form of being able to find something I need. Recently, while working on the exterior of my house trying to get it ready for winter, I needed a particular tool that isn't normally used in carpentry - a pair of bolt cutters. I knew where they usually resided in the garage, but when I looked they weren't there. I looked and looked for them, but couldn't find them.

Finally it occurred to me that there are others beyond that veil that a) have a good idea what is going on in our lives, and b) care about things that are important to us but might seem silly to others, or irrelevant in the big picture. So I stopped and said a short prayer to Heavenly Father to help me find the bolt cutters. I opened my eyes and I was looking Right.At.The.Bolt.Cutters.

I know it sounds like a coincidence, but I have had enough experience getting help finding things that I don't buy that explanation. There really are people who have passed on that have been assigned to help us, and help us they will if we will petition God for the help we need in our everyday activities.

~plaid said...

pray for guidance in how to help someone else. Not praying for their problems to miraculosly vanish (feel free to do that, though), but praying for guidance regarding the things within your scope of inflence. What can you do, make, give, or say to help another person, especially those you have a responsibility to help? Listen, ponder, study the scriptures, and pray sincerely, then act. You may be surprised at what can happen when you seek to be on the Lord's team and serve others. There are numerous small miracles waiting for you as you try to listen to the Lord and look for the right things you can do to help those around you. These can be true testimony-building experiences, even in painful settings.

(end quote, emphasis added)


As we know from scripture "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Eccl. 1:9). So what you have said has been said before. Certainly you have also been inspired by the same source that all Truth is given! In this month's relief society topic in the Ensign, Elder Uchtdorf is quoted. He says essentially what you have said:


“Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. … In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers” (“Happiness, Your Heritage,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2008, 119, 120).


I have been learning so much about what prayer is and isn't. I think of prayer in three "glories." So much of our development goes through a three tiered process (faith, hope, charity) that is also overlapping and encompassing. When we begin to pray, we may be on the hope level or the telestial level. We *hope* God exists and is listening. We progress to *faith* or telestial, asking for those things that will benefit us, or thanking Him for things that we deem a benefit to us, having *faith* God is capable of granting those things. I think we can progress to the *charity* level, or celestial level. This is what you and Uchtdorf address more. It is learning not to pray for anything more than to communicate with the Lord so that we might know His purposes and be able and willing to serve the Lord. To know His will and be willing ourselves to be submissive to his will. To be instruments to bring His will to pass.


Alma 34 we are taught a lot about prayer. And in the end, we are very strictly reminded that prayer without our own efforts to answer the prayers of others is praying in vain:

And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted , and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. (Alma 34:28, emphasis added)

Matthew said...

Hey folks. I just wanted to chime in on this post as it's an issue that is number one on my list of life frustrations.

So here are my issues when I hear these types of things explained. Firstly on the subject of repentance and receiving answers to prayers. On one hand I see Jeff's point and it sounds great. The problem is that this is not merely confined to LDS people praying in regards to repentance but follows for all religions. Now to this one can say, "well see! God answers prayers of those seeking repentance regardless of religion or creed!" The issue I have is that The same happens when people aren't even praying to a God. How many people on this planet have ever woken up one morning looked around and said, "man, I really screwed up!" As they start contemplating things they start coming up with ideas on how to better their lives. We're constanlty inundated with all kinds of stimulus and ideas about life. Is it so far fetched to think that while meditating ideas that are in our subconcious rise to the surface and our conscious mind says, "Hey! That's an awesome idea! I bet my life would be happier if I started doing this!" Of course it's equally possible that God does answer these prayers in the way many people feel that he does.

In regards to the phone call thing, I'm very glad for you if this experience is something that strengthened your resolve and belief in the church, but I do see issues with this one. Say you had called again and had received still no answer to the phone call. Had this happened it would not have been an evidence that your prayer went unanswered. You may have driven over to his house and then headed to your appointment and seen that as the answer to your prayer. Life is filled with absolutely tons of tiny chance circumstances but the absolute vast majority of them are going to go unnoticed. An acorn falling from a tree and hitting a particular quadrant of pavement involves very tiny chances. We don't care though because acorns falling on particular spots aren't important to us. I don't mean to attack your experience and I realize that you're not saying it was the chance occurrence of the telephone thing that is the reason you believe God answers your prayers. You believe it because it coincides with your feeling that God listens and answers them in some form or another.

For me personally this subject is so frustrating because any possible answer has a billion other possible explanations. I may have a strong feeling of peace during a talk, but then again I also feel that during a touching moment in the movie "Wall-e". I need something more then a vague sense of "this seems like a good thing" because that kind of feeling could be felt towards any number of false but well meaning ideas in life.

I get frustrated because there doesn't seem to be a litmus test for spiritual experience or verification. I can't kneel the same way and ask the same questions in a particular manner and get the same answer for verification and even less so can I verify my experience by following a set example from someone else.

I've been a member of the church since childhood and served a mission and have been active my whole life, yet I still don't have anything I can see as a real answer to my prayers over whether the gospel is true or even if God exists.

I hope I'm not stepping on any toes or making anyone uncomfortable with these comments. I honestly respect the feelings of others and it could be quite possible that they answers you speak of really did come from God. It's just for me personally I would have a very difficult time accepting them as such.

~plaid said...

@Matthew: You say things that sound very familiar to things that go through my own head.

I think we can't always know, and for some of us that is our trial. We don't have angels or tangible evidences. I have all kinds of reasons to doubt and question (and I *do* doubt and question many things), and yet somehow, I am not sure why, but I always come full circle to where I started (but maybe with some different perspectives or insights I hadn't had before).

No matter how hard I have tried, I cannot make myself believe that Jesus Christ isn't real. That He isn't truly the Savior who is the sure way to the place I want to be in the eternities. But EVERYTHING else you can think of related to religion and spirituality and God I have doubted. I have wondered over and over about many things, not seeing how the God I believed in growing up could possibly still be the same God that seems "in charge" now.

I have had no real evidences. I have had no deep revelation. I don't even get answers to many, many of my prayers (and I am not even meaning the kind of answers I am looking for... I mean it is like there is just *silence*). I believe in a God who is aware of even the sparrow that falls, and I don't understand a God who lets my family go through so much of what we have been through and are going through.

I have had serious difficulty attending church meetings, even though I have fasted and prayed over and over... had blessings... to be released from this PTSD that causes so much disruption to my life. Isn't this a righteous desire? Isn't this the Father's Will that I attend meetings every week? Isn't it even His *commandment*? And then why have I not been healed?

SO much to struggle with, and I understand some of what you are saying. How we can *label* something as an answer to prayer when it seems to benefit us or make us look "good" because God favored us. But when we don't get some "trophy" answer, we don't run all over the place advertising that, do we?

I write a lot about this on my blog where I vent these weighing things. Like this, when we were in the hospital with our youngest trying to find answers of why she has symptoms like our two kids who died and not getting *any* answers (and we *still* don't have the answers):

"I wish that there was a God who I could understand. "He's a puzzle." That's just another word for mystery. If God is so a part of everything, why is He so unseen? Why so hidden and obscure? If He is all knowing, why can't He whisper the answers in our ears?"

God doesn't always seem *there* for me and my family, and it's hard to hear how someone can find a wrench by praying, but God isn't interested in answering things that seem so much more critical, so much more eternally valuable. Isn't it His work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men? Then why not answer prayers that are earnestly trying to get to that end?

But somehow, I just believe. I don't have answers to everything, and I have so many questions that really I feel need answered. But I just feel a need to be patient with it. Because everytime I *do* get an answer, I just have another question. And even the most brilliant, intelligent people who have been born to this earth don't even know.

That is where you can either have hope, or even faith if you believe a little deeper. And if that is all you can have, it is all you have. It will have to be enough.

LuckyMatt said...

What a great post, Jeff. One of the hardest lessons to learn about life is that our prayers are only answered with the answers *we* want when our will is in alignment with God's, and even then our idea of ideal timing for the answer may be off.

Praying for the two things you mention--how to change ourselves for the better, and how to bless others--are perhaps two out of three things that are *always* aligned with God's will, and nearly *always* God's timing on these topics will be "right now." These two things have everything to do with eternal progression and the salvation of the human family.

A third "slightly harder" topic I would suggest is the "what is true?" question. This one takes study, thought, persistence, humility, and sensitivity to the Spirit of the Lord (as do the other two above, incidentally), but the timing is a little less predictable on this one--sometimes the Lord needs to know we are really ready to obey before He confirms truth to our minds and hearts. But teaching us truth, like repenting and serving others, is always a goal that the Lord has for our progression, and is a great way to have prayers answered.

Almost all other prayer topics--such as employment, health, physical healing, relationships, safety, world peace, etc.--seem to have varied responses. This is probably because the Lord would cheat us of learning, experience, and progression if all our requests were answered in exactly the way we want. There are also often components of our own and others' agency that further complicate these, and God will seldom interfere with our, or others', agency.

Thanks for the reminder that in addition to all of life's disappointments and ambiguities, there are certain things that are rock solid--that God loves His children and wants us all to learn, improve, and progress.

Virginia Brown said...

I have experienced the little "tender mercies" answers to prayers, much like the gentleman who found the bolt cutters. Once it happened that I found a fountain pen I had lost. It was in the snow BEHIND the front tire of a car that had parked after I lost the pen, meaning that the car must have driven over it, but it was not damaged. At the time I had been praying about a very serious health problem my daughter suffers from. Finding the pen seemed to me a message from my loving Father, telling me that if He could help me in such a simple, insignificant thing, I could be confident that He was aware of my deeper needs and was in control of the right outcome. It told me, "I love you. I love your daughter. The answer will come when it is time."

Pops said...

It seems that a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that a testimony consists of a personal revelation that something is true. Not so.

Testimony is a tapestry woven of three basic types of threads: authority, reason, and experience. Revelation is a golden thread in the experience category.

If you want a testimony of some principle, you will first check out the authority aspect - are there credible sources that suggest it might be true? You will check reason - does it make sense? Is it consistent with other things you believe to be true? And you will try experience, most of which will be gained by living the principle to see what kind of results is produces. You will most likely be blessed with spiritual confirmation as a result of your efforts. But if you seek only a spiritual confirmation with nothing else, you either won't get it for not having done your part, or if you do receive a confirmation, it will be a single golden thread that will likely not survive when tested.

Tony said...

Thanks to Bro. Lindsay and Pops. I have some food for thought.

Matthew said...

@pops
You said the following, "Testimony is a tapestry woven of three basic types of threads: authority, reason, and experience. Revelation is a golden thread in the experience category."

While I do not doubt in the slightest that this is the method in which we are instructed to gain a testimony it has serious problems for me.

My main issue is that authority is the only one of the three that seems to work with the gospel. Reason doesn't work so well for me. Is it reasonable to believe that an entitity is observing all things in the known universe and has all reaching power to influence any outcome, yet is never seen, heard or observed in any way shape or form? For me this is not a reasonable point to arrive at. I don't think many people try to argue the existence of God using reason because at the end of the day they don't use reason to come to that conclusion, they use an appeal to emotion. The idea of a cosmic creator that loves each of us perfectly is a an emotionally appealing idea even if it isn't a very logically appealing one.

Experience seems a better one, but then again, how does one know that their perception of an event is correct? You and I see with eyes that are only able to perceive a very narrow range of the light spectrum. There are all kinds of things that other animals on earth can observe with yet we cannot. We can put on thermal visors and get kind of an idea of what they perceive but it's still filtering through our human being eyes and so we don't actually see the way an animal that can sense heat from a distance, or see into the ultraviolet will perceive it. When it comes to religious experience things aren't bolted down very well. How many people on earth will swear up and down to have seen UFOs, aliens, demons or witches? I don't doubt that they truly believe they experienced such thing in the slightest and I don't think they are crazy.

On a daily basis our brains pick up on any number of things that we file away into our subconscious and don't 'really' notice. These things can come back in all kinds of ways, on top of this many of us (myself included) have extremely active imaginations. As a child I saw any number of very 'real' monsters in my closet or at the foot of my bed. Human experience is not a very good evidence for the existence of something unless it can be verified.

I'm not saying that any of this means the gospel cannot be true, or that I have evidence that God does not exist. Merely that for some of us the experience and reason do not back up the gospel claims and authority by itself is not sufficient either. Just because a person is trustworthy and good natured does not mean that their beliefs are correct. If I grabed samples from every religion on earth I would find any number of giving, caring individuals that strive to make the world a better place and are honest. Each one may believe something completely different. If I go by your criteria it is quite possible that I would have to concede that all of them are true. They have good authoritative reason to believe them, they are all equally rational (all religions have contradictory statements and things that just don't add up logically) and it's totally possible to have an experience in any one of them as every religion is chock full of people that claim special experiences that validate their own flavor of religious thought.

I don't mean to be inflamatory at all. This is merely the problem that seems quite stark everytime I think about my own beliefs.

Matthew said...

@plaid,
I'm so, so sorry to hear about your family's medical tragedies. I cannot even begin to imagine the heatbreak and pain it has brought. I'm very happy that you have something to hold onto and have faith in the way you do. I'd imagine it has helped in many ways.

I try not to be too judgemental but yes, the stories of, "I lost said semi-important document and God helped me find it" are deeply frustrating to me mainly because they just seem rather silly and trivial. How many times have I lost something that was in my own hand stressed myself out and paniced. Stopped, taken a deep breath and then noticed, "oh, I'm staring at it" or thought, "I bet it's on the dresser but I already looked there didn't I?" our mind is constantly filing things away whether we realize it or not and sometimes it's a matter of calming down the conscious side to allow it to find what it's looking for. This has been my thoughts on it anyways, unless God is extremely interested in helping people find lost items even if they weren't asking him for help, because this happens constantly to people regardless of religious belief.

There are certainly points of doctrine that feel 'right' to me, but I still have trouble not questioning them as I have any number of ideas that felt 'right' and turned out to be false. For some reason as a child I always assumed (because my mom would do so) that fasting just meant abstaining from food or sugary drinks. I was not aware until my mission that drinking water was against the rules. I was very confused when a mission companion pointed out that I was breaking my fast. How could I be breaking my fast when doing it that way had always felt 'right' to me.

It just feels to me, so much of the time that I'm not being given the same sort of answers that everyone else is given, but perhaps I'm just expecting too much. If others have God helping them out with their finances and finding missing objects you'd think that letting me know what is true and what is not wouldn't be such a big deal.

For now I'll continue attending meetings reading praying and asking for the truth as I can't think of much else I can do. It is a frustrating ordeal to say the least though.

Thanks again for writing that up. I really do appreciate it, and it helps to know that I'm not the only one that struggles with understanding the gospel.

Pops said...

Matthew - I don't find your observations inflammatory. Let me just offer a few observations.

First, the "reason" component of testimony is very strong for me. I don't have a problem with a God who is able to conceal himself from us. What kind of two-bit God would he be if he couldn't? [I hope that wasn't blasphemous...]

I wouldn't go so far as to say he is never heard or seen, given Joseph Smith's experiences, along with others in the scriptures. He's pretty selective about who gets to see him, and that's consistent with the purpose of life as explained by the restored Gospel.

Once again, the real "experience" component comes from extended effort to live the Gospel. I think part of the exhortation to keep journals is so we will be aware of the changes occurring in our lives over time - they can be gradual.

Here's a for-instance: fifteen or twenty years ago I decided I didn't like the direction my life was headed. I knew I needed to change something, and what I settled on was that I would read the Book of Mormon regularly. I've read it at least once every year since, along with other books of scripture. The change it has made in my life is dramatic, not subtle. There is nothing nuanced about it. But that change didn't happen the first year. It took time. But now, when I pick it up to read, I feel a very strong connection to the spiritual dimension. It's a spiritual confirmation every time I read it.

I think part of it is that I don't spend a lot of time thinking, "Is this true?" as I read. Rather, I focus on the message, and am willing to spend quiet time just pondering and reading, trying to achieve a better understanding of the Gospel and the Atonement and how they apply to me.

~plaid said...

Matthew,

Line upon line, precept on precept. Do not worry if you live a principle one way to later learn it is "wrong." It wasn't that you were practicing wrong but that you were still just learning the principle. And don't be surprised to make adjustments in the future, because you will just find some information that is True that will make adjustments necessary.

I think you are demonstrating sincere and real faith. You wrote that you will continue with reading, attending meetings, etc. And THAT is what faith is! It is DOING even when you do not KNOW. When you KNOW, faith is not necessary at all.

I think that it is even more wonderful to see someone who has doubts continue in faith than it is to watch people who have no reason to question go through the motions. Not that it isn't great for both, but where is the exercise when someone has to make no effort for the same result? I am sure we all have our own challenges, but I think it really speaks well of someone who continues to move in a direction they hope to lead to the right destination rather than give up because they cannot see the end. It's like watching a marathon and being happy for the runners who cross the line first, but also being just so thrilled for those who most would have thought could never complete the race, who have all kinds of limitations, finally come across the finish line.

The God I believe in accepts every sincere seeker, even if they have fewer lines or precepts under their belts on judgment day. And I know people think of "doubting Thomas" in a negative way, but you know I think you can't look at it that way! Jesus called Thomas to Him, and even though he had doubts Thomas went to Him! And Thomas was able to be in the presence of the Lord, and was able to feel His wounds, to know His Savior. I don't think less of Thomas for questioning and doubting. And if Christ had thought less of him, would He have even called Thomas to Him? For some of us, seeing is believing. And we are loved and called by our Savior just as much as those who do not see, and yet still believe.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your words, especially with regards to praying for others--

who need our help . . .

good--

Alexander Blake said...

I was raised as a Mormon, whenever I would ask questions like "Why are my prayers not being answered?" or "Why don't I feel the holy spirit like the rest of you?" I was just told to be quiet and not to ask questions, or I wasn't "trying" hard enough.

Don't you guys think maybe it's time to grow up and realize that there this life, and no one really knows what happens when we die.. and there is no way to know if there is a true religion.. Prayer will never help with anything, if you pray and something good happens, then God answered your prayer, if you pray and God doesn't answer your prayer then it was "God's Will".

There have been multiple studies on prayer and they have shown to have no effect what so ever on anything.

I feel bad for you guys that have had medical problems or family problems but there are so many things you can that are more effective than prayer..

Sorry if I offended anyone I just wanted to share my opinion.

Matthew said...

@ Alexander Blake,
I don't find it offensive in the slightest. What you are saying is, in my experience, usually the case. It's one of my largest frustration with the gospel that when I pray and something 'good' (how do we define this word? On what do we base it? It seems to not be as rigid as people want to suppose sometimes.) happens then God answered my prayer. If I make the same prayer and it is not answered then it just means my will was not in accordance with his, or that I didn't ask with enough 'faith' or that 'the Lord works in mysterious ways.'

There is no litmus test for spiritual matters and the honest truth is that it is quite possible that God does not exist, and that religion is merely a large in group that encourages a certain mind set (if the LDS church is true this still would be the case for countless other 'faithful' denominations throughout the world.)

All that said, the gospel seems to be something that leads me towards a wholesome happy life. That doesn't mean that it is certainly true, only that it is good. I am not a man of much faith yet I still see so much about the LDS church that is enlightening to me. Life is full of unanswerable questions. Not just withing religion but in all facets of life. The long and short of it is that even the gospel doesn't have all the answers, and cannot be proven.

While it may not seem a satisfying reason to you, for me personally I go to church and try to learn more mainly because it's filled with good people and seems like the 'right' thing to do. Perhaps I'm totally dead wrong in this assumption but I'm going to pursue it anyways because it brings me happiness.

Tony said...

As a convert, an independent of anyone else, I have had prayers answered by God almost right away, later on, or ones that I still try to come to understanding about since I believe that I have not come to a definite answer.

But I could not deny the clear answers I recieve from the Spirit. Some may say that other religions have spiritual experiences. I have been in other Christian faiths before, being raised Catholic and then Baptist. I have attended other churches besides this. Until I can find some feeling or experience that can adequately replicate that of which I feel in the LDS Church, and while reading the Church canon, I will continue to rely upon what I truly believe to be unique spiritual confirmation with a unique way of coming to know a direct answer to at least one direct question, namely that of whether the Book of Mormon is God's word. I love Moroni's promise for that very reason.

The Book of Mormon leaves no middle ground on that question. It very boldly claims to be another testament of Christ (the last chapter of 2 nephi comes to mind). I rejoice that I have come to a knowledge that it does, indeed, have the doctrine of Christ within its pages.