Have you ever noticed we pray for ridiculous things? Like when I pray that my double peppercorn burger with bacon and cheese will “nourish and strengthen my body and mind”. Don’t you think the Lord gets a chuckle? I like to think so.
I mention this because of an experience I had today. I was reading the popular posts in Google Reader and I came across what looked like a picture of a severely burned woman climbing to the Y on the mountain near BYU. I clicked through to the blog and found it was NieNie’s blog.
She and her husband were in a horrible plane crash in Arizona last year. I believe they were in a coma for 5 months. The story is tragic but her blog is astoundingly hopeful and inspiring. Go. Read it.
I especially recommend this post. In it, she talks about how, after living with another family for the five months she was in a coma, one of her kids wouldn’t let her hold him and even called the other woman “mother”. It’s an absolutely heart-wrenching account.
After I read it, I spent a few minutes thinking about it. I even bowed my head to pray for her and her family. Specifically, I think I said something like “please bless NieNie and her family and…” before I abruptly stopped.
I felt completely arrogant. Who am I to tell God who to bless? He knows them and their needs far better than I ever will. He loves them infinitely more than I can. The whole idea of asking God to bless complete strangers or even close friends seemed blasphemous to me. I guess it felt akin to counseling God.
But the Bible Dictionary tells us:
“The object of prayer is…to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”
I certainly believe that and agree with it but it still didn’t satisfy me. It doesn’t take away that feeling that I’m telling God something He knows in a much better way than I do.
Then I had a thought. Maybe instead of telling God what to do and effectively counseling Him, why not ask Him to help me know how to help? Instead of asking “please bless x,y,z person”, why don’t I say “please help me know how best to help x,y,z person”? Or, instead of asking Him to bless the missionary work in our ward or our investigators, why not ask Him how I can help it or them? And then sit and listen for the answer?
It occurs to me, I’ve known this for a long time in my head but it’s never become real to me. At first, I didn’t buy it when the Bible Dictionary said prayer was a form of work, but when I think about it this way, I can see what it’s saying.
What do you think about that? Does that make sense at all?
Also, how do we know which blessings are made conditional on our asking for them? Are all blessings or just certain ones? How do we know? I’d love to get a discussion going about this.