Sunday, April 6, 2008

Where's God When You Need Him?

I’m sitting here watching General Conference and, as always, a common theme is the urging of all of us to ask the Lord in prayer for guidance and that he will be there to hear and answers our prayers if we have faith. I’ve heard this message my whole life and it’s becoming more and more obscure.

Recently, I’ve had two conversations with friends who have come to me confused and tired because they can’t decipher what God is telling them they should do with their lives. Like most of us, they can’t tell the difference between their own voice and that of the Spirit. It’s caused me to determine my feelings on the subject. I’m learning that I’m just as lost.

We recently had a lesson in Priesthood about prayer and the Elder’s Quorum President made a comment I couldn’t leave alone. He said that we should not have expectations of God, and that he will follow his own schedule. This got stuck in my craw and I had to disagree. The scriptures, as well as every Christian theologian no matter the religion, has said, “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened up to you”. They’ve also stressed the necessity of morale cleanliness, obedience to the commandments, unceasing faith, and abundant blessings for doing such. My experience is beginning to tell me that this contract between us and God, while seeming very straightforward, is the cause of much confusion and heartache. The reason being is that it feels as though it’s rarely being honored on His side.

Why he chooses to be mysterious, I have no idea. Sometimes, the answers come like a falling anvil, others they come much later, quietly and subtlely. And sometimes, the clarity doesn’t arrive until after you’ve carried on. But, most of the time they never seem to come at all. It seems paradoxical that the source of “Light and Truth” could work in such dull shades of gloomy grey.

I try not to let it ruin my belief in Him, but it’s hard not to feel very, very alone sometimes and wonder where He is when you need Him most. We are encouraged to pray day and night and keep a prayer in our heart at all times. Yet, I have gone months or longer without ever feeling as though I’ve heard a word from Him.

The one thing I do feel strongly about is that God helps those who help themselves. Granted, if we always proceed to help ourselves, we almost edge out the need for his guidance at all, which poses a conflict. However, I do know that those who ask the Lord what they should do and then sit back waiting for an answer are missing the point. Doctrine and Covenants Section 9 lays the blueprint out better than anything in scripture. The bottom line is, I think sometimes God wants us to be more selfish and to follow our own wants and desires. If we manage to keep Him informed along the way and seek confirmation (as opposed to direction) we may be more satisfied with where we end up and even have a greater sense of accomplishment since it was largely us moving this forward.

I wish I had more answers and I my frustrations mount as the years go by. I don’t know why He seems to leave us along so often. But, I do know that we can’t wait for answers at the detriment of our own progress. Just get moving in some direction and He’ll probably right you while in motion.
Just for the record, I'm not the pray-er I once was. After a few times of feeling left out to dry, I fell out of the habit, unfortunately. So, I don't claim to be an expert at it. All I can say is, I feel I've put the promise to the test and it hasn't always worked out. I usually put blame for that on me, I'm not doing something or need to have more faith. Hopefully, I can work on this issue as well.


AnnieB said...

I think your teacher was wrong. One of the things that has always impressed me the most about Joseph Smith was that after reading the scripture in James 1:5 (that PROMISES an answer)he took the Lord up on his promise and went to ask. The interesting thing there, too, is that Satan came first to bind his tongue! Sometimes we have to get through a lot on our own before the Lord intervenes. I think the most important thing to remember is that He knows us. It may not be so much "his timeline", but ours instead.
Hope this helps.

Marilyn said...

Dad said: All I know is that I have prayers answered continuously, and I always have, but I am also very willing to accept the answer.

AnnieB said...

Also remember that He is the "Light and Truth" like you said. We are the ones that cause the cloud cover and "varying shades of grey".

L said...


In studying bits of psychology interwoven with communication, academia speaks of the crucial desire for someone to feel understood. I've never known how sincerely that can bring one peace... until now. Thank you for verbalizing how you have "been there".

The only thing lately that has lifted me up, has been a similar analogy to the gift of music: the gift of nature's beauty. Like we've spoken of the moving experience of music, my recent trip to Yosemite and Arches has spiritually fed me. To share a thought from Muir, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in ...nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world."

Until the soft spoken word of God comes to me, to feel like I am known, I'll seek for my peace in the chapels of the mountaintops.

(It kills me to read the end of your entry, because I hear hints of my own voice.
...and it's just too hard to stay in the valley of doubting one's own worthiness.)

Blessings to you and yours,