Monday, October 23, 2006

The Mormon answer to my no answer

If you ask LDS members about praying for an answer your conversation will usually cover these points:
1. Everyone can get an answer
2. The answer will be "yes, it is true"

So what if someone doesn't get an answer. How do LDS members usually address this. I have found that it comes down to one of three responses:
A. The person wasn't worthy for an answer
B. The person didn't have faith enough for an answer
C. They really did receive an answer, but they are now denying it

I have personally heard all three of these. I find it kind of depressing that all three of these answers are telling the pray-er that it is his/her fault for not getting an answer. Not only are these answers blaming the pray-er, but they are also judgmental, hence non-Christ like, in their nature. One is assuming that the pray-er has some sins or transgressions the prevent them from receiving the answer or that they haven't been reading their scriptures enough, but isn't the pray-er the better authority on this. The second is similar, isn't the pray-er, the better one to judge whether he has the requisite faith? or hope/desire, as the scriptures actually say is required. As to the third, does this not amount to outright calling the pray-er a liar?

I can understand the believer trying to fit everything into their box of beliefs and trying to make sure that nothing contradicts what they see as an infallible formula. But believe me, it is frustrating when a pray-er who sincerely believes they are following every step of the formula, fails to get an answer, and the only suggestion they get is that they aren't doing it right.

Having said that, I really appreciate members who understand and believe that I asked sincerely. Thank you.


At 1:21 PM, Blogger Lady D said...

Amen to that.

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I’ve heard those responses you listed from members before.

While they may actually be applicable to some people, I would suggest other perhaps more common reasons for not getting a response to a prayer (certainly not inclusive):

There is no answer.
It is not time for an answer.
The answer is not given in a manner that is immediately recognizable.

In the case of no answer it is my opinion that perhaps one should act in good conscious on agency given to us because that is one of Gods greatest gifts to us. We prayed a lot for guidance in Eberswalde, but were often left to our own devices. That may have let us live more in the spirit of the moment (if that’s what we want to call wandering around the streets for hours and arguing with JW’s who seemed to live in every other apartment).

In the case of timing there may be a reason for delaying response to questions asked of God. God’s reasoning is unfathomable to us from our perspective most of the time I would wager, so lack of answers doesn’t discount the question necessarily. Time may not be as important as other factors. Hindsight is helpful in discovering this of course, but again, it’s usually our agency to choose what we feel is the answer.

Sometimes the answer just isn’t what we thought and it comes and goes without our observation. Or is acted upon in an entirely different sphere of time and space from our relative position (sorry, digressing into physics). I’m pretty sure we are seeing and understanding only a fraction of what is going on around us in terms of “reality”.

I do believe you ask sincerely of God. Off the top of my head, I think for you answers will be a matter of choosing to acknowledge God in the answer or not. I prefer to see it that way some times anyways.


At 12:07 PM, Blogger Rob said...

But why would God give a sincere truth seeker an answer that is unrecognizable to that person. That seems pointless. And aslo, why would God wait to give a sincere truth seeker an answer, knowing that not receiving anything may be interpreted as an answer in the negative. D&C 9:9 says that if the answer is "no" then you receive no feeling, a stupor of thought, in other words nothing. It doesn't seem sensible to me to say to someone I'll go with you to the football game if I meet you at your home, If I don't meet you there I am not going, and then later saying, oh I wanted to go, but I was waiting for you at the stadium. God says if the answer is no, you will feel nothing, I felt nothing, how can one say that he is waiting to give me an answer, that goes agaisnt what he said. Again, nonsensible.

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Rob, I can see now that I was speaking generally about receiving an answer to prayer and not specific to your point about sincerely asking and receiving an answer to the truthfulness of the doctrine of the church or presence of God.

I do believe you are entitled and will receive an answer from God regarding what is right and true!

But I’m not convinced that what you described as not receiving an answer equates to a negative. Admittedly it has been a while since I have read the scripture you are referring to in D&C Chapter 9, but it appears you are using this verse argumentatively to construct and sustain your idea in your comment above.

The chapter refers to Oliver’s desire to translate the scriptures himself of which he apparently had prayed for (vs 7), but had not properly prepared himself for (vs 8).

I know that you have had much preparation and given much thought to the truthfulness of the gospel. I have personally witnessed your observance of the gospel and would think your devotion sufficient for an answer so it is no small consequence to me either that you find yourself without resolution.

Go a bit forward in the chapter to verse 12 and notice that the Lord did not condemn Oliver at all for how he went about questioning Him. I feel that you in similar fashion are not to be judged harshly by anyone for openly discussing your feelings on such an important matter. Nor would God leave you to this without a reason for he does love you very much I’m sure.

To take my previous generalized post about possible answers to prayer and apply them specifically to this chapter I would think that Oliver simply needed to learn something even though his intentions were sincere in his prayerful request. So there was a method and timeline involved that were in part revealed to Oliver in verses 8 and 9. This is what I was generally referring to in my previous comment. Unfortunately for Oliver in this particular circumstance he missed the boat so to speak and was not allowed to translate directly because he feared and did not continue in his task.

In the case of an answer to the truthfulness of the gospel you will always have the right to an answer but it might require more than what you expect. Cultivate faith and hope and do not fear, as was Olivers mistake, to continue living the Gospel fully, would be my advice. Meaning the happiness you get with being a great guy is just a part of serving God but your striving to keep the observance of gospel doctrine as taught by the church may be prerequisite to finding your way to truth even though you have reservations regarding the methodology. Liken this to verse 14 of this chapter where Oliver is guided to stand fast in the work.

Verse 3 sticks out to me for the gentle guidance to have patience and the fact that the Lord has motives that we cannot yet discern.

The “wisdom” in the Lord mentioned in verse 3 is all encompassing. I might venture to guess that this may be a negative “opt out” answer to your dilemma in your way of thinking. The Lord works in mysterious ways, so questioning the gospel is just a way for you to learn or experience something on your path to finding the truth, right?

Possibly, but I am starting to get the impression though that you are getting sidetracked in this quest. I’m not sure what it is exactly (other than the obvious discontent with how you feel your experiences should have been with asking the Lord for confirmation of truth about the church). I haven’t known you for many years and don’t pretend to have an inkling of what you are going through, but I’ll venture a guess and hope you’ll indulge me (and forgive me for trying?).

Although everything I know of you says this is not the case, be warned that you may pass up opportunity for the things you seek like Oliver, if you get sidetracked by not completely following your heart in this matter (which I couldn’t possibly know for sure ever and is not a judgment on your character at all!). Perhaps you are expecting logic to prove something to you when faith and feeling should rule? Forgive me for venturing that, but I got that feeling reading your reply to my post where you were quick to stamp my previous comment as “nonsensible” (is that even a word? Shame on you!). Before which you supply a rather convoluted example yourself to back it up. Not that I don’t enjoy the rebuttal! You won’t discourage me that easily and I’m sure it wasn’t meant as discouragement either (right, right?).

I’ve got a lot more I could pontificate on, but will try to stick to your posts more directly and not wander aimlessly in your blogosphere (how’s that for a word?).

Thanks for sharing your life with us and know that we love you!


At 1:30 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Sorry, I went to business school where they seem to "incentivize" people for making up words.


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