Why is prayer not like a run through a fast food hamburger joint? "Hello God, I would like an order of filthy stinking rich, hold the taxes, with a side of beauty and health. Oh yeah, and could you give me a Heavenly Mansion Happy Meal for my son. I also have an 'I don't have to keep the commandments coupon.'" Then, boom! Prayer is answered our way and fast!
It sounds silly, but when I pray I want my answers right now. Just like everyone, I face real problems and live in a world plagued by school shootings, financial difficulties and hunger. I know the anxiety of waiting for prayers to be answered and what it feels like to struggle with patience while I wait.
Thankfully, our prayers are answered and often in unimaginable ways. Occasionally they are answered immediately, but answers can't be scheduled or calendared. We must wait patiently on the Lord, trusting and having faith.
In John Chapter 14, the Savior knows he must soon leave this earth and his beloved disciples. He says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
In this beautiful counsel he tells us he doesn't give us peace the world's way; fast and made to order, but he assures us that he will give us his peace. His plan, is not our plan, and his ways are not our ways, thank heavens! Because if his ways were like our ways he might procrastinate answering us, and let our prayers stack up around the prayer basket, like dirty laundry, and leave our needs behind at a bus stop.
1. It begins with trust
Do your prayers go something like this? "Dear God, I am grateful for, (insert list here) BUT I need, (insert longer list here) and this is how I want you to do it because I know everything, and this is when and where I want it, and this is who I want you to make (insert need such as love, forgive, marry me, give me a raise, give my boss the pox)."
So often when we are praying, we want to tell God just exactly how to answer our prayers. We come to him with our plan and our direction. We forget the part about trust. Trusting our Heavenly Father includes believing that his plan is a much better plan than ours.
2. Follow example
He gives us more direction in John 14. He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
In this verse, he reminds us to do what he does. When we believe in God and the Savior, we need to follow that belief by action. When we act and keep commandments, the Savior has promised to bless us. The world promises quick fixes. The world will tell you just take this drug, buy this toy, or belong to this club, and you'll be happy. The Lord tells us to live better, keep commandments, and follow his example he promises we will find peace by living his way, not the world's way.
3. Follow directions
He goes on to say, "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that my Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." Anything we ask in his name, he will do. Trust that if you keep his commandments you are worthy of a miracle.
"Let go and let God," is a popular saying. It could easily be interpreted as don't do anything but that wouldn't align with his request to keep the commandments. I like to look at this quote and think when I have done everything I can, then it is time to let go and let God.
4. Check out the view
I live in Oregon and hike the wooded mountains. It is easy to get disoriented in the thick woods and tall evergreen trees. When I am lost and need to learn where I am, I climb to higher ground for a clearer perspective. God is always on the highest ground and has the clearest perspective. I have learned to remember that God always has the greater view. When I align my plan with his plans, and follow his commandments which provide a road map for success, my life is easier.
In the same chapter in John, he also says, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may also be." His plan is to make us better people, to bring us home to him, and may not involve a raise or other items that rank very high on our daily prayer list.
The Savior, our example, walked and slept outside, was essentially without a home yet was the greatest example I believe mankind has ever had of living a perfect life. His plan may include sending us in an entirely different direction, where our perspective is changed and from a higher plane. Allow him to lift you up and show you his view. He knows who you really are and what will make you happy.
Today, do everything you can, kneel and ask for what you need. Then, trust. Trust that the Savior loves you and has a plan for you. Trust that, when you finally see the entire plan you will be amazed at the beauty of it, because it is God's plan and not yours.