Today was a busy day. Really busy. Choir, church, dinner, back for a meeting, and a visit. We were out of the house from 11:45 til 8:30. As I was thinking about what I should write about today, and as I skimmed through my notes from Education Week 2008, I came across this quote from C.S. Lewis, quoted in a class by Kevin Hinckley:
“I pray because I can’t help myself…..It (prayer) doesn’t change God; it changes me.”
(Note: I searched for the source of this quote, and although there are a bunch of handy websites out there with lists of famous C.S. Lewis quotes, but this was not one of them. This month, I’ll be reading Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters for bookclub, so I’ll update this if I figure out where this quote is from.)
Back to the quote…..Something jumped out at me when I read this tonight. How often do we pray and feel like we’re not receiving answers? Maybe we’re not receiving answers because we’re asking the wrong questions. I love this example that I heard during the class: It’s like asking Emeril, “Which Cajun dish should I cook–Spilt Pea Soup or Spam Surprise?” and then wondering why he’s not answering.
Prayer is not about changing the will of God or telling Him what should happen. In the LDS Bible dictionary, it says,
“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7: 7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”
How often have you mothers had a child ask–BEG–you for something they really, REALLY wanted? Al has asked for candy almost every single morning since the day after Halloween because he got candy that day. He throws a fit nearly every day when I tell him no. President Joseph F. Smith said, “The education of our desires is one of the most far-reaching importance to our happiness in life.” We want what we think we want, but in prayer we can learn what we need.
So how do we learn what we need, and how do we make our prayers more “productive” and meaningful? Brother Hinckley suggested one key is to make our prayers more submissive. Instead of saying, “Please help me with….”, say “Thank you…..” Instead of saying, “What I need is….”, say “Help me to know what to do.” Express more gratitude, explain concerns, and express willingness to follow His directions and guidance. In other words, stop telling God what to do. How many times have I prayed, “Help us to be able to buy this new house,” or “Please help PB to get this new job,” when those things I was so desperate for were not things that were good for us?
Heavenly Father loves us. He is anxious to bless us and to answer our prayers. He wants us to be happy! He knows exactly what we need! Why is that so hard to remember? :)
Hope you had a good Sunday.
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