I wanted to call this Remaining Grateful When it Seems God is Taking FOREVER to Answer a Prayer… but that title was way too long to fit the space this blog format gives me to work with. This is my “take-away” message from Church today because so much of the focus was on gratitude and that all prayers are answered. We may not get the answer we want or get it when we want it but it is answered.
For the first time in a long while I felt an answer to my prayer one night last week. Derek had a rough day filled with disappointments at work and during his bitter complaints there was a little piece of me that started to doubt his success in this career choice. I had some moments of fear that he would do something stupid, like walk off the job, and send us plunging right back into the same financial crisis we are trying so desperately to escape. I don’t have any more help cards to pull out so that is especially frightening and stressful to me. When I spilled out my fears in prayer, I heard a distinct “Don’t worry… I got this!” in response.
That doesn’t sound like a very Godly way to word it, does it? But that is what I heard. And after a long dry spell where it felt like the heavens were closed to me, I’m not sure if I felt more excited about the offered relief or grateful just to get an answer!
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At Church a woman I’ve become rather friendly with mentioned finally receiving an answer to a prayer 24 years later. You could see the amazement and gratitude in her countenance when she spoke about this long sought answer. What a testament to patience!! I think I probably would have given up, assumed the answer was no and forgotten all about it. I know it probably doesn’t seem like nearly such a terrible wait in the reckoning of God’s time but it’s mind boggling to me. And I sincerely hope it doesn’t take 24 years to see my prayer’s answer come to fruition!!
One of our lesson topics today was prayer or, more specifically, about listening for His answer when we pray and how sometimes our minds are so full of clutter and background noise that we miss it. Maybe at some later time, we realize that it was there but “in the now” getting an answer is not part of our conscious recognition either because our own pride won’t accept an answer different than what we seek or that we’ve failed to calm our minds enough to hear His still small voice. Somewhere in scripture it talks about the voice of God being in the stillness following whatever tumultuous event is giving us grief. He doesn’t speak to us in big grand ways that get the attention of the whole world but rather in a soft quiet voice only we can hear… if we are ready to listen. That darned “if” clause gets us sometimes…
Our Relief Society President was teaching the lesson. Two months ago her husband had a stroke. He made it to the hospital and treatment was started in under an hour and, amazingly, he’s retained much of his functioning. He walks and talks so well that people who didn’t know what had happened probably wouldn’t guess. If that’s not amazing enough in and of itself… they both count his stroke as a blessing because of what it’s taught them about prayer and paying attention to see God’s answer applied to their lives. She gave some specific examples of how she’s doing that. She spoke of things like turning off the radio chatter when she’s driving to work and using the time to talk to God and just be quiet and listen. Sometimes she plays a CD of hymns as soft background to her reverie. And it’s astounding what she’s learned about herself, her husband, how to meet their family’s needs, how to answer hard questions that are posed to her as Relief Society President, how to better meet the demands of her job and a long list of other things just by purposely making her drive a quiet time of seeking heavenly inspiration.
I’ve been trying to carve out some quiet in my day several times a week. Actually, it's a line item on my To Do List though, admittedly, it’s something that gets sacrificed when I fall behind on other chores and has mostly been turning into a nap when I do take the time. I’ve been telling myself that the napping is just part of getting my strength and stamina back so hopefully one day it can be what’s intended because I really want it to be my time to turn to the scriptures and pray… and listen.