13th Ask Josh – Prayer Answers

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2008 at 1:27 am

anonymous writes:

Mr. Guest,
This is a question of a religious nature, let’s face it: I’m mormon.  You’re mormon.  So, from one mormon to another:::
In a recent moment of deep despair I did what I often do and started to pray.  Without getting TOO personal, I will just say I was at the end of my rope in every way possible and needed help.  The answer I got almost immediately was “NO”. That thought was immediately followed by an impression along the lines of “you’re not worth it”.  Why would that happen? Where did it come from? What does it mean?
I’m interested in what you think about this.
I posted my answer in the comments section.  Have a wonderful day.
  1. Mr. Guest,This is a question of a religious nature, let's face it: I'm mormon. You're mormon. So, from one mormon to another:::In a recent moment of deep despair I did what I often do and started to pray. Without getting TOO personal, I will just say I was at the end of my rope in every way possible and needed help. The answer I got almost immediately was "NO". That thought was immediately followed by an impression along the lines of "you're not worth it". Why would that happen? Where did it come from? What does it mean?I'm interested in what you think about this………..Mr./Ms. Mormon,From one Mormon to another, let me first make my disclaimer that I am giving you my opinion. And that what I say is in no way representative of the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But there is literature on the subject. Some doctrine, some opinion. I have included a bit of both. Allow me to sympathize with you on your feeling at the end of your rope. I'm not going to say, "I know how you feel." Because I don't know, and I won't presume to know. Getting a no for an answer, eh? That I can relate to. In Section 9 of the Doctrine & Covenants–a section which our current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has encouraged us to learn and memorize (Be Your Best Self, pg. 133)–Oliver Cowdery asked for the privilege to help translate the plates.The Lord's answer:"Be patient, my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time. Behold, the work you are called to do is to write for my servant Joseph. And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, … that I have taken away this privilege from you."Now that sounds awfully harsh. Kind of like the answer you received. I can't tell you where your impressions came from, but in Oliver's case, he received a clear no. And by the way the Lord said it, it may have almost seemed to Oliver that the Lord was saying, "you're not good enough." But here's what the Lord really said:"Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you in this manner" (v. 6)The Lord knew what was best for the Church and for Oliver at that time. And He dealt with Oliver in wisdom, in infinite wisdom mind you, even though it wasn't the answer Oliver had hoped for.In a talk on prayer given by Richard G. Scott in the 2007 April General Conference, he said, "Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers. … Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. Your character will grow; your faith will increase" (Ensign, May 2007, 8).Some non-Mormons have said the following about getting a no for an answer:"I must often be glad that certain past prayers of my own were not granted." – C.S. Lewis (The Quotable Lewis, 485)"My desires are many and my cry is pitiful, but ever didst thou save me by hard refusals; and this strong mercy has been wrought into my life through and through. / Day by day thou art making me worthy of the simple, great gifts that thou gavest to me unasked–this sky and the light, this body and the life and the mind–saving me from perils of overmuch desire. / There are times when I languidly linger and times when I awaken and hurry in search of my goal; but cruelly thou hidest thyself from before me. / Day by day thou art making me worthy of acceptance by refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire." – Rabindranath Tagore"Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." – Garth BrooksOne of our Latter-day prophets, President Spencer W. Kimball had an experience of unanswered prayer upon his receiving his call as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It is a bit lengthy but bear with me:No peace had yet come, though I had prayed for it almost unceasingly. . . . I turned toward the hills. I had no objective. I wanted only to be alone. I had begun a fast. . . .My weakness overcame me again. Hot tears came flooding down my cheeks as I made no effort to mop them up. I was accusing myself, and condemning myself and upbraiding myself. I was praying aloud for special blessings from the Lord. I was telling him that I had not asked for this position, that I was incapable of doing the work, that I was imperfect and weak and human, that I was unworthy of so noble a calling, though I had tried hard and my heart had been right. I knew that I must have been at least partly responsible for offenses and misunderstandings which a few people fancied they had suffered at my hands. I realized that I had been petty and small many times. I did not spare myself. A thousand things passed through my mind. Was I called by revelation? . . .If I could only have the assurance that my call had been inspired most of my other worries would be dissipated. . . .I knew that I must have His acceptance before I could go on. I stumbled up the hill and onto the mountain, as the way became rough. I faltered some as the way became steep. No paths were there to follow; I climbed on and on. Never had I prayed before as I now prayed. What I wanted and felt I must have was an assurance that I was acceptable to the Lord. I told Him that I neither wanted nor was worthy of a vision or appearance of angels or any special manifestation. I wanted only the calm peaceful assurance that my offering was accepted. Never before had I been tortured as I was now being tortured. And the assurance did not come. . . .I mentally beat myself and chastised myself and accused myself. As the sun came up and moved in the sky I moved with it, lying in the sun, and still I received no relief. I sat up on the cliff and strange thoughts came to me: all this anguish and suffering could be ended so easily from this high cliff and then came to my mind the temptations of the Master when he was tempted to cast Himself down–then I was ashamed for having placed myself in a comparable position and trying to be dramatic. . . . I was filled with remorse because I had permitted myself to place myself . . . in a position comparable, in a small degree, to the position the Saviour found Himself in when He was tempted, and . . . I felt I had cheapened the experiences of the Lord, having compared mine with His. Again I challenged myself and told myself that I was only trying to be dramatic and sorry for myself.. . . I lay on the cool earth. The thought came that I might take cold, but what did it matter now. There was one great desire, to get a testimony of my calling, to know that it was not human and inspired by ulterior motives, kindly as they might be. How I prayed! How I suffered! How I wept! How I struggled! [Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977), p. 192–95] (qtd. in Jeffrey R. Holland "The Inconvenient Messiah" – BYU Speeches of the Year 1982)After reading that account, then President Jeffrey R. Holland said, "So if your prayers don't always seem answered, take heart. One greater than you or President Kimball cried, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' (Matthew 27:46). If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived."Now, to answer your questions:1. Why would that happen? Revelation can be difficult to understand when it comes. We are told that God will answer our prayers in our mind and in our heart by the Holy Ghost (D&C 8:2). We know that the Holy Ghost is not often an abrupt messenger. That still small voice can be easily misunderstood if our minds and hearts aren't listening clearly. Often when praying in highly stressful or emotional times, we may want the answer immediately and if it doesn't come at the exact moment we ask for it, we may unwittingly fabricate an answer on our own and assume that it was inspiration. I am not saying that this is the case for you, but it has been the case before. I wish I could say I have been completely immune from it, but I can't.2. Where did it come from? I can't tell you the origin of each prompting you receive based solely on their content. I assume your concern is that you felt in your mind, "you're not worth it" and became worried that the prompting came from the Holy Ghost, a bleak message indeed if such were the case. Elder Hartman Rector, Jr., then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, said this about where answers to prayer come from:"It is important that we be in condition if we are going to get revelation from the Lord. You may rest assured that if you are not in condition you will not get it. However, if you are not worthy but you fast and pray and work at it, you'll get communication, because Old Scratch [he is referring to Satan here] is great at giving it, and he loves to give it. He gives it all the time, but it's important that we know from whence it came. When we know that, it gives us some way to handle it. … Does the communication edify and cause you to rejoice? Generally speaking, when it comes from the Lord you'll feel good about it. We'll say that it speaks peace to your heart. But if it's mixed up and confused, then you should seriously question that it came from the Lord." You may consider reading that entire speech. His remarks are titled 'How to Know if Revelation is From the Lord.' You can find it at I would also suggest looking up Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, 'Cast Not Away, Therefore, Your Confidence.' You can find it a the same website.Remember, the Holy Ghost, the method by which Heavenly Father talks to us, is a comforter (John 14:26), and the fruits of the Spirit are, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23).3. What does it mean?It means you're normal.Of course, that's just my opinion. You asked for it.

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