Listening To The Answer To Your Prayers

by MaudeW 19 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Introspection

    Well, whatever your understanding of God is, does it make sense that an infinite and almighty being is there to do your bidding by way of some special formula of prayer?

    Lets look at it for what it is. When you ask for something, you are already limiting your framework aren't you? Just imagine from our perspective a witness asking God how to be a better publisher in some way, better serve the organization. Well, if it isn't even God's organization in the first place, why would God even answer such a prayer?? The person praying may be very sincere, but if what's being asked is just off base in the first place, then it just doesn't make sense to answer. It's like someone asking you "which bone would you like broken in your body?" when you don't want any to be broken. We have to see our assumptions for what they are, assumptions.

    There is one other kind of prayer, the kind that doesn't ask for anything - your good'ol "thy will be done" prayer. One way of looking at it (and I do note that it is only a way to look at it) is simply acceptance of what life brings. I qualify this statement because frankly, it's very easy to write it off as an idea, whether you like it or not. But if you just relegate it to a thought then it just becomes dead, and in fact there can be no acceptance because it will only be used as a tool in rationalizing your world view if anything. The psychological content is not important in prayer, not important at all. After all, if you believe God is all knowing doesn't he know what's in your mind? Just take this example of the sincere JW: Which would he do better with, sincerity without the psychological programming, or the programming without the sincerity? I think the answer is obvious.

  • Gopher

    I just knew you'd come through on this thread, Introspection!! You always bring a helpful thought. Thanks!

  • Sherwood

    Notice below that Jehovah God answer prayers with "fear-inspiring things" to those whom he wants to.

    NWT Psalm 65:2-5
    2 O Hearer of prayer, even to you people of all flesh will come.

    4 Happy is the one you choose and cause to approach,
    5 With fear-inspiring things in righteousness you will answer us,

    Jesus praises God's wisdom in not answering prayers of the high-minded ones full of self-conceit and pride. The channel of prayers to God is established to be by means of Jesus Christ. Many Agnostics and Apostates (trinitarians) are to prideful to acknowledge this aspect in approaching the only true God, Jehovah, thus Jesus doesn't show them the Father, Jehovah.

    NWT Matthew 11:25-27
    25 At that time Jesus said in response: "I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes. 26 Yes, O Father, because to do thus came to be the way approved by you. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one fully knows the Son but the Father, neither does anyone fully know the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him."

    Jehovah God only talks 'directly' to "perfect people" thus spoke to Jesus directly, even though others have heard Him talk to his only-begotten son.

    NWT Hebrews 5:7
    7 In the days of his flesh [Christ] offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear.

    NWT John 12:27-28
    27 Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me out of this hour. Nevertheless, this is why I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name." Therefore a voice came out of heaven: "I both glorified [it] and will glorify [it] again."

    Jehovah God reaches out to any person who sincerely wants to find Him, in order to please Him

    NWT Acts 17:24-27
    24 The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, 25 neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all [persons] life and breath and all things. 26 And he made out of one [man] every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of [men], 27 for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.


    Edited by - Sherwood on 11 February 2003 22:45:45

  • crownboy

    The best advice I've heard about prayer is something I recently heard at a Unitarian-Universalist meeting; namely that prayer can serve as a way for you to sort through issues in your own mind by focusing and meditating on it. Usually, if we are praying for guidance, we already know what we want to do in a given situation, and we are really just looking for a little secondary assurance, or a little more time to weigh the issue. (Of course, if you are praying for miraclous stuff to happen, you should have figured out that doesn't work since age 7 ).

    Though I don't personally have a need for prayer, it's still pretty good advice, IMO.

  • peacefulpete

    There theraputic value of prayer lies in it's requiring the praying person to organize his thoughts nd put them into words. It is much the same as the avice to write down in a letter your feelings without ever meaning to send them. Or talking your problem out with a friend or health care professional. The "seeing" answers to prayers is a matter of selective perception. It has been studied and found that a devout persdon convinced of God's blessing will "reognise" God's hand in everyay matters that appear at the moment to be good. This, while ignoring the equal number of events or situations that affect them negatively On occassion when the negatives pile up it is not seen as proof of God's failing but as test of faith. Perhaps the person attributes the negative to the Devil. I was once camping with a Lutheran relative whose selective perception struck me even when I was yet practicing prayer. The camp grounds were full and we did not plan ahead and make a reservation. After 3 or 4 camprounds turned us away, we found a spot late into the night. My aunt declared that she was praying for a spot and God had answered her prayer! Well ok I thought, I know God did not answer her prayer because she was Lutheran and not a JW but why was her certainty that He had any different than my certainty God had answered my prayers in the past. When the people began having a drinking party and young ladies squatted and took a pee out in the open in the camp site next to ours as we were unpacking, I wondered did Auntie change her mind about the availablity of our site being the answer to her prayers? Nope. A couple of years later when the family remembered the trip she recalled how God had taken care of us when we needed a place to stop for the night. Selective perception: see and remember only that which affirms our conception of the world. Ignore or forget (filter out) that which threatens that conception. This normal tendency is illustrated when we loose at a game of card. Since a normal healthy person feels a measure of pride in their abilities, when we loose we quite naturally attribute that loss to poor cards. When we win it is attributed to our skill. When after playing a dozen hands of cards and loosing 6 we tend to when asked how we did remember loosing only 3-4. Some reading this may feel they do not do this. They do, uness aware of the tendency and consciously fight it.

    It is only when a person's faith is dealt a blow by tragic or impactful events emotionally equal to that faith that a person begins to doubt. Suddenly we feel God is no longer "answering" our prayers. In fact we are just now seeing the world with the rose colored glasses off. We no longer interpret good things as blessings and the bad as tests. These things are just life's ups and downs. Knowing this makes me more inclined to make camp site reservations.

    Edited by - peacefulpete on 12 February 2003 10:55:18

  • MaudeW

    Thanks everybody. You've given me a lot to think about.

  • Sara Annie
    Sara Annie

    This line of questioning reminds me of an old joke


    There once was a man who was known in his small town for his staunch faith in the Lord. Whenever there was trouble in his life, he clung to the idea that no matter what happened, God would save him. One day, it began to rain. It continued to rain for three days. The river swelled, flowing over it's banks. The small valley town the man lived in began to flood.

    The man sat on his front porch watching the water rise until it was two inches in the street. His neighbor pulled up in his truck and asked if he wanted a ride to higher ground. The man said "No thank you, God will save me." The neighbor left, shaking his head.

    Soon the water was flooding the first floor of the man's house. Two men in a boat rowed up to the second floor window the man was standing in and asked if he would like them to row him to higher ground. "No thank you," said the man, "God will save me." The men shook their heads, and left wishing him luck.

    In a matter of hours, the water had risen to the top of the house, and the man now sat on the peak of his roof. A helicopter flew overhead, hovered, and dropped a line. The man waved them off, yelling "No thank you, God will save me!". The helicopter pilot shook his head, and flew off toward higher ground. Not long after, the water rose, the man struggled to stay afloat, and finally drowned.

    Arriving in heaven, he stood before God and said "Lord, I lived my life according to your word, I put my faith in you alone, I was sure you would always answer my prayers. When the floods came, I was sure you would save me, but you did not. Why?"

    God looked down at him and replied "I sent you a truck, a rowboat and a helicopter...what more did you want?"

    I don't believe the answers to prayer are in the form of a booming voice or a burning bush. They are in the circumstances we find ourselves in, the new things we see, the people we meet, the things that happen (large and small) that allow us to be an active part of the solution to our problems. God helps us by allowing us to help ourselves through the events he puts in motion. The answers will come in ways that you are not expecting, and part of being receptive to the answer to a prayer is recognizing that the answer is not always what we want it to be. I believe that God answers every prayer, he just doesn't always say yes.

    The next time you pray for an answer, listen less for the voice that responds, and keep watch for the trucks, boats and helicopters.

  • peacefulpete

    Selective perception at work. For if God answered this man's prayer by inspiring the self sacrificing rescue workers to come to his aid, why did He not do the same for the old woman down the street who drowned because all the rescue workers were circling this man's place. If He had sent a flying chariot like he did for Elijah and this was video taped by the neighbors I might be inclined to think this was an answer to a prayer rather than simple human goodness and self sacrifice resulting in this man's life being spared. The human explanation does not require I ignore the old woman who drowned praying because the workers were too busy helping others.

  • Introspection
    There theraputic value of prayer lies in it's requiring the praying person to organize his thoughts nd put them into words. It is much the same as the avice to write down in a letter your feelings without ever meaning to send them. Or talking your problem out with a friend or health care professional.

    Pete, I would further distinguish this as the psychtherapeutic value, which I would point out is dependent on some kind of thought structure. After all, what is it that makes a person lose their faith but having lost a belief? In this sense it is very flimsy, because you'll be in the same predicament when another part of your world view is challenged.

    I do think sometimes this is a necessary first step, but ultimately I think it's important to realize that it's not about the thoughts in your head, or rather it's all just thoughts in your mind. From this perspective you can even laugh at the silly thoughts in your mind as a bad movie, which is of course pretty much all they are.

    My guess is people of faith will most likely feel their faith is based on more than thoughts. (if you do think it's just thoughts, good for you for seeing that) If you think it's not just ideas that you have, then you can simply give that up can't you? If in fact there is more to your spirituality than the beliefs, then give up the beliefs. A simple test really, just see what's left. What's there to be afraid of if it's not just the beliefs?

  • Sara Annie
    Sara Annie

    One of my favorite things about this message board is the ease at which you can predict typical responses to posts. Pro/Anti posts on any subject have an equal chance of having their validity challenged absolutely and the conviction is admirable even if the argument isn't. I like that.

    What I am saying is that the possiblity to help yourself out of various situations occurs every single day. Call it fate, call it luck, call it an act of God, doesn't much matter to me. But whatever your name for what eventually happens, it won't do you any good if you've got your eyes squeezed shut to the possibility that what you need is already before you. Pray if it makes you feel better, but don't expect an unseen, tenuous, spirit-like being to swoop down and save the day.

    Edited by - Sara Annie on 12 February 2003 16:55:13

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