A Theological Question

Irish2 woke up at 5:00 this morning. This is bad on any day, I don’t really do 5:00. Ever. But on Tuesday it’s especially bad. I work Tuesday nights at the hospital so my Tuesday doesn’t actually end until about 8:00 Wednesday morning. So needless to say at 5:00 this morning I was praying. Hard.

Now I’ve read my scriptures. I know that I”m supposed to “ask in faith believing that (I) shall receive”. My question is, receive what? I believe that the Lord is there. I believe that he hears and answers every prayer. But I know that sometimes the answer is “no.” So when I’m praying that my baby will go back to sleep so that I can get a few more hours in, am I supposed to believe that that’s what I’m going to get? Is that what I’m supposed to put my faith in? ‘Cause I’m gonna be honest with you, I don’t know if I can do that.

If I’m really putting my faith in something I have to act as if it is so. (Don’t I?) I have faith in God so I act as if there’s a God. I have faith in tithing so every time I get paid I write the church a check. But if I have faith that my prayer will be answered the way I want then I’ll put Irish2 in the swing (as I feel I’ve been prompted to do) and then I’ll get back in bed. So that was what I did. I was up again 20 minutes later when the leaves and butterflies in the mobile over the swing stopped spinning. Irish2 did not go back to sleep. And a lot of times I think it’s harder to get back up than it would be to just stay up.

I believe that the Lord is watching me. I believe he has a plan for me and even that he has a plan for this day but I don’t know how to have faith that the things I ask for are going to happen because often they don’t.

We pray for nice weather when we throw garden parties (What? You don’t throw garden parties? What are you some kind of Neanderthal?) so do we then not make alternate plans in case of rain?

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m hardly the poster child for prayer. There’s a whole lot about it that I just don’t understand. Enos praying all day and night for his friends and then his enemies and being told that they would all get what they deserved, how could you believe in, or at least worship, a God who didn’t give people what they deserve? I get that we have to ask for things even thought the Lord already knows what we need. To my mind it’s mostly about humbling ourselves enough to ask. But sometimes what I think I need and what the Lord thinks I need are different. He is, of course, right and I’m willing to accept that but it makes it harder to have confidence that I’ll get the things I want.

I’m not sure that much of this made any sense (I did get up really early this morning after all) but I would love to hear your take on it.

Oh and, the baby’s asleep.

PS for those of you who aren’t LDS you may not get some of my references but I’d still be interested in your take on prayer etc…

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. chronicler
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 08:15:53

    I can’t say I understand the whole process wither. I’m just glad your baby is asleep. BUt then again, you were awake enough by then, to even take a photo! I’ll pray that your shift is easy and you don’t get completely exhausted.

  2. chronicler
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 08:17:05

    see I told you you needed to teach me to spell check prior to hitting submit. that is either not wither.

  3. Alison Wonderland
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 09:25:04

    Yeah, the baby fell asleep but by that point the other three were all awake.
    Here’s hoping.

    PS FireFox automatically spell checks for you.

  4. Annie
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 10:52:33

    Pray for what you want and leave the door open. That way, if it rains on your garden party you can feel good knowing that it was probably because the flowers were really thirsty and God loves the flowers. Or maybe someone would have accidentally rolled in your poison oak (what, you don’t keep poison oak handy at your garden parties?) and it was God’s way of sending everyone inside before disaster struck. And in your case, perhaps you never would have had these deep theological thoughts if Irish2 would have slept in. Because of your post I just remembered that I forgot to say my morning prayers. So thank you for waking up to ensure my salvation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the closet.

  5. bythelbs
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 11:34:03

    I so remember praying almost nightly and very fervently for my children to sleep when I was just completely exhausted and so ready to be done with the newborn stage. With every kid I did this. It rarely worked. So eventually I decided that I would pray to be able to get through my day on whatever sleep I got and not want to harm my children because I was just so irritable and on edge from the sleep deprivation. That worked a lot better.

    That’s pretty much how I pray for everything now. I pray for what I want and also to be OK with it when I don’t get what I want, just in case.

  6. Allison
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 17:23:45

    Okay, this is going to be long, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the last few days. My big test was yesterday (Monday). I studied for several hours a day for 10 days straight, sometimes pulling all-nighters. The whole time, I prayed that I would retain the information, plus be able to recall and use it.

    Sunday night comes around, I know I need a good night’s sleep. I have some anxiety problems that I knew would make this difficult, so I did what I could to relax, took some meds that normally help, and in my prayer I asked that I be able to sleep. Well, it didn’t happen. I didn’t fall asleep until after 5 am. I cried, I admit it. I prayed. And then it kind of hit me. I have done the seemingly impossible on very few hours (minutes, sometimes) of sleep when I had a colicky baby. And I know it wasn’t because of my greatness, because I tend to need more than 8 hours of sleep to function. So I prayed more. And I asked that I be able to sleep, but if not, that my brain would still be able to access, process, and utilize the things I had been studying. I had done the work, the rest was out of my hands. For a control freak, this is huge to relinquish control.

    I don’t have my results, but I didn’t find the test to be impossibly hard. It’s possible that it seemed easier than it really was because I was so tired, I admit. But I mostly had things I knew something about, and chose between 2 good answers that both made sense. Whether I made the right choices or not, I’ll see soon enough. But it made sense to me, and I was able to get through it. When talking to my friend, Angie, afterwards, her test questions that she could remember were much more difficult than mine, and I wouldn’t have been able to make sense of them on my exhausted state. I believe it was not a coincidence.

    In summary to this extremely long thought, I believe in my heart that God is teaching me that I don’t know what’s best for me, even when it seems obvious. I’m also learning that if I’ve done everything I can do, that God will bridge the gap. I’m having to learn to take the “no” answer with grace and know that there is a better plan.

    One more thing, my daughter woke up last week with a bad stomach bug, and I prayed that I wouldn’t get it, or at least not while studying or on test day. You better believe I woke up with that stomach bug this morning, and all I feel is gratitude right now that it waited until today to hit me.

  7. Dollie
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 17:30:36

    well he’s cute sleeping right? Eli wakes up and says I don’t have the sleep the sun is a awake how do I argue with that logic.

  8. Alpine Mormon
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 17:33:14

    The journey of finding the answer to similar questions is one that I have traveled for many years. I don’t have all the answers either…but I have come to some things that help me.

    Your question seems to be: “…That I”m supposed to “ask in faith believing that (I) shall receive”. My question is, receive what?”

    My thoughts center around this: for me I used to think of faith, prayer, and results as a formula that looked like this:

    Faith + righteousness + prayer = I get what I want.

    I changed the way that I looked at things when I began looking at things from the stand point of Elder Oaks talk “The Challenge to Become”. He makes the point that the Lord is inviting & enticing me to “become” something not just doing something or even granting my requests when they come.

    I think of Mosiah 3:19

    19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

    This scripture tells me that I am not a saint, I am the natural man (or woman) and therefore my nature is an enemy to God. Furthermore it (and the rest of King Benjamin’s address) tells me that I am completely undeserving of being in his presence…or deserving of any gift or blessing for that matter. Yet I can still ask. How?

    I took the time to then count my blessings as they are outlined in the creation, the garden, the fall and the atonement. I found that everything I have has been given as something that I could not do for myself except one thing…that is my will.

    So if all I have to offer in return for everything that God gives me is my will.

    I think of prayer now as an alter.

    With that knowlege, the idea of being submissive in prayer, action, intent, and thought is how I “become” according to King Benjamin.

    I place my will on the alter and he gives me the Holy Ghost as a gift that I then “recieve” as a verb. Recall that I was given the “gift of the Holy Ghost” with a command to “receive” it at confirmation.

    The Holy Ghost then is the thing that I need to “receive” by yielding to his enticings.

    Elder Eyring teaches that the Holy Ghost is the agent in the cleansing process for it “cannot habitate in an impure tabernacle”…”its influence cleanses”. That was an important realization for me because it meant that I must yeild through reception of the Holy Ghost but that the cleasing and puritying effect is brought about by the “agent”, like soap, not by my imperfect efforts. That is something I could not do for myself it is called grace.

    That changes my approach to things.

    So using the situation of my child screaming in the middle of the night (which I totally can relate to) here are some of my choices in how I approach the situation:

    1. Pray for my child to fall asleep. Result: Might happen as a tender mercy and evidence that God simply loves me. I might have a blessing like this come if I recognize I that I don’t deserve it and I ask in faith in Christ and on his merits not my own. How does this help me become?

    2. Pray for strength and patience in the moment and that his power will help me to endure and become strong, patient, loving, and enduring in trials so that I can become like Him. I try to remember that there are millions if not billions of people crying for his attention during the night and that he is lovingly willing to bless them all with exactly what they need…patiently waiting for them to receive. I will I recieve what I need or hold out for what I want?

    3. I could pray that I can become less self centered and more aware of my motives.

    4. I could pray that I learn the principles if there are any that might help me to know how help my child sleep through the night.

    5. I might pray that I accept that the reality of this situation is that I must wait until my child is older for him or her to sleep through the night and that is something I cannot change as it is the will of God.

    For me then, the formula now looks like this:

    Faith in Christ’s merits + Humble recognition that I deserve nothing + prayer that helps me align my will with God + action that yields to the enticings of the Holy Ghost = reception of the Holy Ghost and therefore I “become” a saint or like God by his power not my own.

    Over time I see the fruits and they are truly wonderful.

    Hope that I have made sense…may the Lord bless you.

  9. chronicler
    Jun 11, 2008 @ 08:28:04

    yes, Alison, but those red lines are so benign until after I hit send. ;-D

  10. chronicler
    Jun 11, 2008 @ 08:35:09

    Alpine – I appreciate your thoughts. Gives me something to ponder.

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