Thursday, July 31, 2008

Minutae

This post is 100% not meant to poke fun at someone's faith and their ability to pray as they see fit. I admire in a lot of people the ability to put their faith out there for the world to see, and hope that this post does not offend anyone in anyway, they are just my own personal feelings and would love feedback. If you are not LDS, I would especially love to hear from you, as I find incredible insight into how I should be growing my own faith more, based on your examples.

I've been mulling over whether to post my feelings on this subject or not, and have decided to get it out there and hopefully group my thoughts and make some sense of my feelings here (read: I'm very nervous about actually voicing these opinions outside of discussion with very close friends).

While blog surfing I came across a post by someone (they are not in my link of friends, just so you know, and won't be tempted to look through those searching for the exact quote) who will remain anonymous, and they were saying that before they went grocery shopping they asked God to help them find the best deals that they could (very rough paraphrase of the situation), and lo and behold they ended up saving a ton of money. My first thought, was 'Wonderful!'. However, I have been struggling with this concept of praying over things that seem so insignificant in the grand scheme of eternal progression.

I am well aware of the fact that we are to pray over all things, but does it really matter if we save $10 on our grocery bill? Does this seem blasphemous of me? It seems that as long as this person feels they received an answer to their prayers, and thus increase their faith, then it's a good thing. But thoughts like this make me nervous because it seems to me such a fragile thing to base your faith upon. That faith of this sort is so flimsy to begin with that, say for instance, they actually ended up spending $5 more than they had allotted, would their faith be adversely affected because their prayer over grocery shopping wasn't 'heard', or answered in the way they had planned?

While I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who cares about our eternal well being, and love being able to develop a close personal relationship with Him as His daughter by constant prayer, would it be taking the name of the Lord in vain (as we close in the Name of Jesus Christ, thus using that prayer as He would) to pray about the minutae of life? Or should the sacred name be used for more important things? And if so, what are the more important things? I whole-heartedly know of the power of prayer and never in my life would I consider not including my Savior and Father in my everyday life, that is not my point, my faith in prayer is not floundering, so please do not misunderstand my intentions.

We are told in the scriptures that a servant who has to be guided in all things is a slothful and unprophitable servant. So how much are we required to figure out on our own, and how much are we to depend upon miracles? The purpose of this life is to figure out how to return to live with Him some day, and gratefully, we have the Holy Ghost to help us in this endeavor, but if we were constantly guided we would never have to learn for ourselves, and thus never truly progress, or have to exercise faith, and faith is ultimate strength, we would never become strong.

I guess most of my struggle lies in finding the appropriate balance of reverence and love for our Heavenly Father (praying over the 'important things') with finding the more intimate relationship as a daughter would have with her father (praying over the 'minutae'). Since my basis for understanding of the relationship between parent and child is founded in an earthly relationship, and thus not a perfect one.

There you have it: a buffet of my thoughts this morning.

8 comments:

Amberly said...

I don't think praying over the "little things" diminishes the power of prayer, or it's great significance. If saving a few bucks when grocery shopping is a big deal to you, Heavenly Father knows that. I often ask that my mind be clear, that I can be aware of the good deals that surround me that will help bless my family. While prayer is sacred and reverenced, I have very honest conversations with my Father in Heaven, outlining exactly what i'm grateful for and what i'm in need of. He knows me and knows my intentions- I don't think being specific and having his hand in all aspects of life is demeaning the practice of praying. I sure hope all that made sense... we should talk about this sometime!

Kendra said...

I used to think it really strange when I heard a SIL praying for things such as that her babies would take good naps, and other seemingly inconsequential requests. But I think I have since learned that if we don't pray for specific blessings, it is harder to see the Lord's hand in our lives. The key is remembering that the Lord has the power to grant us whatever we request, but often has a better (or more important) plan for us than we have for ourselves, and not to have faith shaken when things don't turn out as I have outlined. I have been known to pray for the tender mercy of a close parking space when I am dragging three children into a store, but may not always get that blessing, if the Lord knows that I need exercise more than convenience, or to learn to be more understanding, etc...

I have really been trying to be more specific lately in requests and gratitude, and I think it helps my prayers to be more genuine and less repetitive ("thank thee for all my blessings, help us to have a good day, etc.")

Lindsee said...

I feel that if the person praying to save $ on groceries really needed the extra $, then more power to them (ex. poor university students living in Provo who have a tuition bill due next month, have only a small amount of $ to get them through a week...sounds all to fimiliar). However, I think it odd to blog about it...

I think that to pray for things that are of good intention and important to you is great and how it should be. If it is important to you, it's important to Him. Heavenly Father has given us so much already, we need to be aware of the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf and allow that to humble us, be submissive. Then we can pray with real intent and know that whatever we may be asking for is of importance.

On the other hand, Amberly has a good point about the honest conversations...

I don't know.:)

Becky said...

I had a Young Women leader who profoundly impacted the way I think about prayer and my relationship with my Heavenly Father...Amberly's comment reminded me of it. This leader told us how she would talk with God while doing the dishes, while going on a walk, while doing the laundry, whatever. She would just tell him about her day, tell him about the things she was struggling with (big and small) and ask for help.

Like Kendra noted I have prayed often that my children would go to sleep easily for me on nights that Jeff is gone and that if they are not going to that God would please strengthen me to be a good mom.

I guess my take on it boils down to a few things:

1) "All good things come from God"--tied closely to that is Elder Bednar's talk about the "tender mercies" of the Lord (from a scripture in 1 Nephi)...basically Elder Bednar says that there are no such thing as coincidences; that every time something good happens to us we can attribute it in some way to the Lord

2) "All things are spiritual"--having Jeff be bishop has made this principle even clearer to me. We can have the Spirit with us in ALL that we do...even grocery shopping or talking about finances or trying not to eat bad foods because we want to be healthier.

3) Faith is an action word so when I pray that Heavenly Father will keep me safe, I had better do my part by obeying the laws and not doing something really dumb. If I pray that He will help me find good deals, then it is my job to start hunting and cutting coupons.

Whew! Sorry this is sooo long! I think it's great that you are willing to post about something like this Alicia--it is good for us women to use each other as a sounding board. Hope everything I said makes sense...

Anne said...

I think you are on to something Alicia. I have had this conversation with my husband many times. He believes that all things of concern should be prayed over all the time and that the Lord considers all things asked for in faith. I often think that it is in Faith that we ask for understanding or desire, you know, things that we can control or exercise our agency as well as cognitive thought, not necessarily for the things we cannot have influence over , like a good sale or a mosquito to able to find it's way out of an infants room (my friend prayed for this very thing) BUT then I also struggle with the very fact that the Lord does ask us to counsel with him through prayer by seeking out the holy ghost and allowing him to communicate with us by asking with faith that whatever we speak to him about, direction will be given. It is like the different between signs and promptings, some would consider them the same but add the Holy Ghost and they are polar opposite. When I am conflicted between asking for what I want and asking for what the Lord would have me to do I think of a story I read about Brigham Young. He and some other men were in a boat and the boat came up on a sand bar. The others requested a prayer for help and Brigham said (roughly paraphrased) "I prayed for help this morning, now get out and push!" I believe that we must all do our part first and act in good faith that the Holy Ghost is with us (those who have been baptised) and when a wrong path or undesirable one (at the vey least) that we will be lead by promptings. Prayer can be a powerful gift and tool in our life but it can also be used as a substitute for action.
Question...what is a SIL? It was in Kendra's post.

Jeff and Ashleigh said...

I love reading your posts, Alicia. I definitely ditto Becky, too. When I first read your story about the person wanting to save money, my first thought was that maybe that person had a list of things they needed to get, but knew they didn't have enough money to get it all. In that case, saving money or finding deals on the groceries would be a very important thing for the person in order to keep their family cared for. I don't know if that actually was the situation, but it illustrates an example of when something seemingly trivial (a couple of cents on an item or two) could be something very important. On the other hand... if that person really had no need to save the money, or was asking to find the deals on food so they would have more money to buy that big screen HDTV, maybe it wasn't the most appropriate solicitation of the Lord's hand. Sometimes I find myself more casually "speaking" to the Lord throughout the day over the quiet, heartfelt prayer in kneeling because the situation doesn't permit. It's hard to find a balance of when is appropriate or not to pray, and I think it's probably different for each individual. The most important thing in my opinion, though, is a sincere desire to receive what the Lord truly has planned on the part of the person asking. If we ask with a sincere heart, leaving the outcome completely in the hands of the Lord, He will bless us with whatever it is that He knows we need, whether it's what we're asking for or not. And we need to be prepared for the opposite of what we're looking for sometimes, and be willing to accept it. Anyway... I don't know everything. And my faith and growth changes daily as I strive to learn what His plan is for me. But that's how I feel at least at this moment! Thanks for making me think this morning. It's refreshing...

Kendra said...

SIL=sister-in-law.

At least, I think. I don't pretend to be totally up on blogging/texting lingo, but the IL usually means in-law, like dh is dear husband, etc.

The John Family said...

Gosh I'm way to busy praying for help with my many faults and short comings to have any time to pray about getting a good deal. Not a bad idea though. :P Perhaps were I more perfect that would certainly have more time. J/K. LOL! I agree with Amberly. God knows us. I don't think it's being disrepectful if that is in your personality to pray that way. Off subject. Is Kendra someone in your ward? I checked out her blog and oh my goodness! She is crazy talented. I sent her blog to a few of my friends. Tell her I think she is awesome. I love reading your blog. I feel bad because I keep in touch so poorly so I love feeling up to date on what is happening in your life. Love ya, Mande