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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Prayer, Special Blessings and Reality » Prayer, Special Blessings and Reality

Prayer, Special Blessings and Reality

Don - March 11, 2006

I’ve been asked to speak in Sacrament meeting this week on prayer.  In preparing I’ve decided that I have some hang-ups about prayer and I’m not sure I have adequate experience either.

Most of my life I’ve felt I’m a pretty average "Mormon".  I probably know a bit more doctrine than most, and a bit more Old and New Testament than most, and even a bit more about Church History than most.  This "bit more" has come because I love to teach and when I teach I learn a lot more than those whom I teach.  But when it comes to "spiritual experiences" or "answered prayers" I feel I’ve got a bit less than most.

Prayer is one aspect that has troubled me for years.  I have been a business owner most of my life, in fact lots of different businesses.  When I was younger I went to the Stake President (since he was my quorum president) and asked his advice about selling a company and doing something different.  I was feeling that I hadn’t gotten an answer to my prayers….lots of prayers about it.  He told me that sometimes the Lord doesn’t care what we do.  He gave us a brain and the power to reason so use it.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter if we own a McDonald’s or a Burger King, if we’re an accountant or a lawyer…sometimes it does matter.  When it matters you’ll get an answer if you have faith and seek properly.

I also don’t think the Lord cares if I buy Wheat Chex or Cheerios.  Insignificant matters shouldn’t be brought to the Lord for His help.  But when does insignificant become significant.  When does the business matter?  I’ve prayed over buying a business, felt ok about it, never got a bright spiritual experience so I went forward.  It cost me several thousands of dollars and took 11+ years to dig ourselves out of!  I should rejoice in my trials – right?  But maybe I should pray better, or listen better?

Ok, another question.  I hear in prayers all the time two things that bother me.  One is people pray that something "might" happen.  If we have faith and are in line with God then should we pray it "will" happen?  It might happen anyway whether we pray for it or not, so why say might?  Second I hear people as for a "special blessing" upon something or someone.  What is a special blessing.  Does God have blessing in catagories – regular blessings, special blessings, extra special blessings?

Ok I’ve vented, now I’ll go finish my talk.


  1. Does God have blessing in catagories – regular blessings, special blessings, extra special blessings?

    Reminds me of the Seinfeld bit about medicine and its category of “extra strength” and how nobody offers “strength” anymore.

    Comment by rusty — March 11, 2006 @ 3:07 pm

  2. Sometimes I think that the purpose of prayer is to align our will with God’s rather than the other way around.

    In a similar vein, I think that the most important answer we can is simply the knowledge that God loves us. Maybe I’ve set my sights too low.

    Even with that attitude I still pray for guidance, blessings, and comfort.

    Comment by a random John — March 11, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  3. Sometimes I just pray that whatever happens will be according to His plan for whomever or whatever I’m praying for.

    Comment by Sister T — March 11, 2006 @ 5:20 pm

  4. Sister T,

    Are there any cases in which what happens isn’t according to His plan?

    Comment by a random John — March 11, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  5. arJ,

    I think we all know that Sister T knows that not everything happens according to god’s plan. I mean, I don’t think it was god’s plan that SeptimusH would lie to Sister T for that whole time. Surely she can’t think that was according to god’s plan.

    On the other hand, maybe it was.

    Comment by Eric Russell — March 11, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

  6. God always answers my sparrow prayers, prayers about little things like where are the keys.

    It’s the big things I have to turn over and let His will be done. First His will is that others be allowed their agency.

    So in praying for His will, I have to acknowledge that perhaps Jessie will not choose to quit smoking, although quitting smoking would certainly be God’s will. And I let it go.

    Well, theoretically, I let it go. I SHOULD let it go, but since I also have agency, I tend to nag.

    Comment by annegb — March 11, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

  7. Being one who is about to reach the age of “menace to society” I hate that the MOST IMPORTANT decision we make in this life (i.e. getting married, that is, the most important besides deciding to seek God and keep His commandments) is one that God says “As long as they have they’re trying to get back to me the same as you, marry whoever.”

    Comment by Bret — March 11, 2006 @ 8:04 pm

  8. One is people pray that something “might” happen. If we have faith and are in line with God then should we pray it “will” happen? It might happen anyway whether we pray for it or not, so why say might?

    This one has to do with the awkwardness of English. If you speak a romance language like Spanish or French or Italian, you might notice that people use the subjunctive tense in asking favors from God. It’s a sort of gentle way of commanding or petitioning for something to happen. When you’re being kind and gentle and formal and you’re asking somebody to do something for you, this tense is used.

    In English, we have no such thing. I think the fact that we lack this tense but need the concept when asking for blessings, we use the word “might” in its place because it “softens the blow” of telling God what we think is best. Maybe it’s a hold-over from the Latin part of our language, maybe it’s just a universal willingness to ask God for things but not tell him what to do… I dunno. But, it seems to me to clearly take the place of the subjunctive in our prayers.

    Comment by A. Nonny Mouse — March 11, 2006 @ 8:18 pm

  9. Everything happening according to God’s plan is a difficult one for me. I don’t want to threadjack my own post, so let me just say I think God’s plan is for me to use my agency, keep His commandments and return back to Him. I don’t think it means His plan includes where I go to dinner tonight, or sometimes even what business I open, or what job I choose.

    Comment by don — March 11, 2006 @ 10:20 pm

  10. No, no, this is difficult to explain, but everything is of course not God’s plan.

    But, if I ask for something for myself, like a job, or something, and I say, at the end “thy will be done” I can let God make the decision.

    When my prayer involves other peoples’ decision making, I can ask God to intervene, but I have to leave it up to Him.

    That concept was so hard for me to embrace, I thought God’s will sucked. I didn’t trust Him. But I’m better now and life is smoother as a result of my letting God decide. Even if He decides to let someone else hurt me when they choose to use their agency in that way. I give up control. Does that make sense?

    Comment by annegb — March 12, 2006 @ 11:53 am

  11. I think God doesn’t care if your business fails, most of the time. You’re still healthy, still not starving to death, still fabulously wealthy compared to most of the people in the world. So if you have to dig back out for a few years, why would it matter to God? You’re still doing well. I don’t understand why God would care how rich you are.

    Comment by Sue — March 13, 2006 @ 1:00 am

  12. By doing well, I mean compared to most folks in the world. As I heard someone say recently, in America, even the poor people are fat.

    So if you have lots of bills, a bankruptcy, whatever, I wonder if that is a concept that matters to God at all.

    Comment by Sue — March 13, 2006 @ 1:02 am

  13. I think there is a difference between prayers and blessings in many cases. It seems to me prayers are more like requests, and blessings are an attempt to state what the will of God is.

    Comment by Eric — March 13, 2006 @ 8:34 am

  14. God’s will and God’s plan for me and agency seems to come into conflict sometimes with me. Agency is obviously of utmost importance. If all we do is use that agency to turn everything over to God and let Him make the decisions for us, how do we grow? I have a problem with that. It seems to be a “cop out” to me. Let God decide. It’s God’s fault. I prefer to think He put me here to make intellegent decisions with His guidence, not Him deciding for me.

    Comment by don — March 13, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

  15. Yeah, you’re right, Don, but I think we’re talking apples and oranges. I’m a very decisive person, for instance, I decide to go after a job. I apply, do all the work, and leave the results to God.

    Oh, ho, did you get that, I just stunned myself.

    That’s sort of it, doing the best you can and leaving the results to God. And also we have to leave other peoples’ choices to them.

    One thing I pray for now, as opposed to my earlier, more childlike prayers (please make Jared stop drinking), is for God to soften my heart. I think that’s always in accordance with God’s will.

    The greatest difficulties I have in life are not being refused the things I WANT, God is pretty good to me, but in getting along with others. So I ask Him not necessarily to change them (although sometimes I ask Him to soften their hearts, as well), but to change me. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and all that. (Sometimes I ask Him to smack them really hard, really hard)

    Who wrote the original post here, let me check,–oh you!–good food for thought. My conclusion is that there are many types of prayers and realities. Perhaps acceptance of life’s constantly changing circumstances in light of faith in a loving Father, that things will work out?–is the key.

    Comment by annegb — March 14, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

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