Chatting briefly with Paul this afternoon, I asked him if he’d learned anything new in church today. “Not really,” he responded. Come to think of it, nor did I. However, I was reminded of several important principles, and I’m sure that he was too. I often tell my husband that one of the many reasons I regularly attend church services is because I need all the help I can get…that includes reminders of how to treat others, how to keep harmony in the home, and how to pray.
Yes, how to pray. I KNOW what prayer is; we all do. And yet when we were asked to read some commentary about it in the Bible dictionary this morning, the phrasing “spoke to me.” According to my reading, many of the difficulties about prayer come from forgetting the true relationship between God and us. He is our Father, we are His children, and when we truly understand the nature of that relationship, then prayer becomes more natural and automatic.
As I read those words, images of both my parents and my children popped into my mind as I considered all the asking, granting, withholding, and considering that went on…and still goes on. Did I get everything I asked for? No. Was it because my parents were mean and neglectful? No again. Was it because they didn’t love me? Once again, no. The same questions and answers hold true for my own children. While it might be easy at the moment to give one’s children their heart’s desire as soon as they request it, that wouldn’t help them to learn the lessons they need to develop character.
Just as earthly parents always give an answer of some kind, God always gives us, His children, an answer. He might not give it right away, but He will always reply. In fact, sometimes it’s in retrospect that you see the answer. This morning’s teacher, who was relying on an article by Richard G. Scott, said that generally we could expect to feel one of three things:
1) The peace and assurance that your decision is right…or that things will be fine (what I feel about the house situation-see earlier post).
2) The unsettling feeling or stupor of thought letting you know that perhaps your choice is wrong.
3) Nothing. That’s right, nothing. Sometimes you feel no response. Perhaps it will come later, in pieces. Or perhaps you’re supposed to be learning patience. Or then, maybe you haven’t fully thought through what it is you’re asking for.
What made the lesson much more meaningful were the wonderful stories that the class members shared. One mother told of a situation in which she had been estranged from her son for twenty-six years! Every day found her on her knees beseeching her Heavenly Father for any number of things: the sight of her son, an understanding of why this was happening, a phone call, a letter, an email, a feeling of peace, strength to endure, patience, and so forth. When off her knees, she was writing, calling, and praying some more. Her son even went to Iraq and back…but still nothing, not one word. Still, she persisted in prayer and never gave up. Two weeks ago, they met and embraced as if nothing had ever come between them. All is forgiven. All is well. Prayers were answered in His time.
I’m hoping someone out there in blogland will share stories or insights about their prayer experience.